In My Own Words
Thoughts on Education, Artistry, and Leadership

My blog includes my #BuildingBetterBrains project, articles I've been invited to contribute, and remarks from events at which I have been asked to speak, in addition to comments written specifically for my web audience.

Please send your comments and critiques; they are always appreciated.

Monmouth College Helpfulness by Daniel M. Reck, on Flickr

Andrew Kuebrich was among the first students I met when I began working at Monmouth College. He was the president of his chapter of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity, so he and I talked frequently. I appreciated his willingness to "call it like it is" as we talked about the state of the college's fraternity system overall, and his fraternity in particular.

Andrew would drop in my old, dark, cave of an office (which is now the home of the college's student programming board) and plop down on one of the too-low chairs which was just not designed for his tall frame. He'd kick his feet up on the coffee table and make himself comfortable. There was something about that office that seemed a little conspiratory, and Andrew liked to play into that.

"Let me tell you a secret, Daniel," he would say, his eyes darting back and fourth, over-conspicuously looking for a phantom eavesdropper.

"What's that, Andrew?" I would ask.

Study Munchie by Daniel M. Reck, on Flickr

"If low graduation and student transfer rates at City Colleges of Chicago don’t start improving, the system’s leaders could lose their jobs. That’s because the formal job responsibilities of the chancellor, presidents and even trustees include graduation rate goals," reports Paul Fain of Inside Higher Ed in his article, "Price of Success."

Having studied with the City Colleges of Chicago's previous chancellor, Dr. Wayne Watson, this story piqued my interest. Watson is now the president of Chicago State University, and has taught courses at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy.

In our class, he discussed the challenge of measuring community colleges' graduation rates, because so many of the students who come to city colleges are not seeking a degree, or they take longer to finish it than the Department of Education metric allows.

According to this article, the Department of Education "looks at full-time, first-time students over a period equal to 150 percent of the time it would take to earn a credential" and "only 35 percent of the 127,000 students who attend City Colleges count toward that graduation measure, because many have studied elsewhere or enroll only part-time."

I would be interested in knowing how many students enter CCC as a full-time, first-time with no intention of completing a degree; perhaps they just want to take one year of classes and transfer to a four-institution. Or maybe they are interested in a certificate, trade, or professional program. Would these students be counted as failures in the graduation tally? What about students who begin a full-time degree program and then drop to part-time because of financial, family, or employment reasons? If they still complete their degree, but take seven years, then are they are failures?

Star Student at Seton Hall Noted for Sideline Antics

After years of studies, senior Peter Dill has finally been recognized for his outstanding work at Seton Hall University.

In a 60-second lead-in to the ESPN Top 10 segment on January 4, anchor John Buccigross noted Dill's oustanding academic record had placed him on the "honor roll every semester."

Given the NCAA regularly runs commercials which say, "There are 380,000 NCAA student-athletes and most of them will go pro in something other than sports," [VIDEO] it seems natural that ESPN would highlight a student-athlete's studies and give him national media attention.

Unfortunately, that is wishful thinking. Buccigross' offhanded comment about Dill's scholastic accomplishment only appeared in the 12:56 p.m. ET broadcast (as captured by YouTube user kenexakauffman). Repeats of the segment, including the one ESPN posted to YouTube (above), omit the recognition. Instead, they only feature Dill's sideline antics as a walk-on basketball player for the Pirates.

Perry Mason prepares for kids crafts event at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, Nashville, by Daniel M. Reck, on Flickr

Remarks at the Greek Life Banquet and Awards
April 1, 2011 at 7:30 PM
The Stockdale Center at Monmouth College

Brothers and sisters, thank you! Your effort, your devotion, have made this the hands-down best year in Greek Life. Every year since I arrived in 2008, you have ratcheted yourselves up.   

You have confronted your challenges with confidence, and overcome them with intelligence. We’ve come a long way, and you own that success outright.

When our founders created our fraternities back in the nineteenth century, they did so because they felt there was a need on their campuses that wasn’t being met. They needed a family, right there on campus, to provide a network of support and to help build each sister and brother up so that they would be the best lady or gentleman they could possibly be.

Our ritual provides the framework of values to accomplish this. In the ritual of Sigma Nu Fraternity—my fraternity—we promise to be constant to our “Fraternal Profession.” But what does that mean? Fraternal Profession?