EDUCAUSE 2018

Here I am, the weekend before the Tuesday morning I’ll be flying out to Denver for EDUCAUSE 2018.  I’m getting ready–I made sure my spouse had my itineraries and conference information, I’m making plans with people, reviewing my schedule yet again, and generally getting in the frame of mind I need to be in to get the most out of the event.

This will be my 13th EDUCAUSE Annual Conference.   My first was in 2004, and I’ve been to every one since 2010.  I’m very fortunate in that I’ve cultivated a great network of people that I get to experience the conference with, and their perspectives continue to educate and amaze me.  I hope that I give something back to them as well.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with everyone, meeting new friends, learning great things (I’m particularly interested in diversity in the profession, data warehousing, furthering my professional growth, and the future of higher ed).  I also love Denver–I lived in Colorado for a year and a half when I was in grad school, and driving to Denver for shows or tourism was always a treat.  I love the crisp mountain air and the brilliant sunshine (although the weather forecast says that will be in short supply).

As always, most of my conference suggestions are evergreen and are in this blog (just search the EDUCAUSE tag).  Denver’s altitude and dry air means hydration is important, especially for those of us nearly at sea level.   Understand you’ll be going full tilt for 12-16 hours every day, and plan for sleep and exercise to balance that.  And don’t go too crazy with the food and drink (and, I suppose, other things.)  But definitely go to dinner with people, and linger at the bar as well.

If you don’t know me, say hi.  If you do, of course also say hi.  We’ll do lunch, or dinner, or second dinner, or just hang out late at the hotel bar.  Think of deep, profound questions to ask people you meet–they will be primed to give you deep, detailed answers, trust me.  Keep the fires alive after the conference too–you can always meet up later on, and decide to collaborate on other things.  (Related:  Come to our poster session.)  Also, I’ve never met someone–even the biggest “rock stars” of EDUCAUSE, who haven’t been happy to say hi and shake hands with anyone.  That’s why they’re there.

Also, I apologize in advance for my Twitter being full of #edu18 starting Tuesday morning.  If you really don’t care I would understand if you mute me for a bit.  But not only do I like sharing with others, it’s also how I keep my notes of the conference.

See some of you in Denver!

 

Book Club– “New York 2140”, Kim Stanley Robinson

A Friday off in the summer is allowing me to catch up on Bryan Alexander’s book club reading, the expansive, immersive “New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson.  This is the first novel of his I have read, which is clearly a cultural deficit I should attempt do rectify soon.

The book’s title tells you what the book is about, largely.  The New York of 2140 is dealing with the impacts of a 50 foot sea level rise due to climate change. New York is underwater to around 30th Street, and much of the story takes place in the Met Life and Flatiron buildings around Madison Square Park, which make the story especially compelling to me as my office is only a few blocks east of here on 25th street (and whose building would be partially underwater in the book, although my 9th floor office would be above the waterline.)  Perhaps when Bryan told me I “might like this one” his is what he meant.

A few impressionistic thoughts:

  • After reading “Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow, and thinking of my favorite book club perennial also-ran in voting, “2030” by Albert Brooks, we’re getting lots of scenario building and world building around the possible futures our present choices are creating.  It’s also hard for me to read 2140 and not think about the current US administration’s easing of climate legislation and rollback of environmental protection laws.  I worry that the events outlined in the book (and they are described with precise timelines) might be happening sooner than this book predicts; and also, although the Surges are catastrophic, Robinson outlines a viable world that exists after them (although the extent of devastation and displacement are not fully explored, since the story does not take place then) but a world where wealth inequality and the triumph of global capitalism are decisive and permanent.
  • I am an amateur enthusiast about the infrastructure and architecture of New York City and cities in general, so the discussion of the changes in the cityscape that the book describes are intensely interesting to me.  The book has a lot to say about present-day New York in its description of  the New York of 120 years in the future.
  • It’s also fascinating how Robinson describes both what has changed and what hasn’t changed.  The day-to-day of the denizens of future NYC is not very different than present-day, except perhaps with a lot more water.  Computing technology seems basically the same, and there’s some advancement in materials (carbon fiber and aerogels get mentioned) but these are still fundamentally New Yorkers, recognizable to us today as such.  I find it helpful to think about how 2018 New York would look to people at the turn of the 20th century–as far back from us know as we are from New York 2140.  New Yorkers would still be recognizable to us, the street grid is identical, and many of the buildings would still be there (especially north of the intertidal in the 30th-streets area).

I’m gonna get back to reading and hopefully comment more.  I just wanted to mark a few thoughts while I can.  This is an amazing book and certainly worthy of its Hugo nomination.

 

 

 

 

EDUCAUSE 2017–Quick Takes

In previous years I’ve done a complete blow-by-blow of the entire conference, and that’s really not useful anymore–many of the experiences are the same or similar from year to year, and honestly, I know and talk to a lot of people and to try and name them all would just be self-indulgent.  I’ll just go over some of my personal observations:

  • I was plagued by a few issues from home which sometimes distracted my focus but also simultaneously gave me clarity on the things I need to be doing to improve the situation on campus.  I have started to formulate a plan.  I know John O’Brien in his opening speech said that “your emails will still be there” when you get back, and that is certainly true, but the job may not be if you don’t address the issues.
  • As always I got to have some great conversations with my Frye classmates.  It was a great time to get a reading and just make sure we’re doing what we need to be and to work through challenges.
  • I was again blown away by the quality of the EDUCAUSE Award winners.  I know that’s funny to say since I helped pick them but to hear them talk just makes me even happier that we were able to select them.
  • I was excited about the opening keynote the most, but it ended up being a lot of “This is what a 1960s futurist thinks of the future” stuff, very optimistic without any sense of the issues that the future he describes would bring; and a few descriptions and terms that felt very outdated with our current sensibilities.  It was fun to watch the Twitter stream slowly start to become more skeptical of the predictions and context thereof as the speech progressed.
  • The second keynote also brought up some issues of big data, but it was interesting to hear how you can be persuasive with data and change people’s behavior.
  • Temple Grandin was an incredible whirlwind and her talk gave us a window into her mind.  She is a powerful example of why people on the spectrum are not “broken”, they’re just different, and helping them use their difference positively is a tremendous benefit to society.  It fit in well with the other thoughts of diversity, equity, and inclusion that I interacted with during the conference.
  • Much of my conference dealt with issues of “diversity, equity, and inclusion”.  I went to a lot of sessions about it, and thought about it a lot, especially in the context of the recent revelations from the entertainment world.   Also, as I am now working in a considerably more diverse environment than my previous institution, the ideas of how to keep the experience of my employees as inclusive of their differences as possible is foremost in my mind, and providing them the opportunities they need and deserve will continue to be a priority.
  • One thing (as I finish up this abandoned draft from a few months ago ;-)) that I’ve been thinking of is what it means to be good at things.  Defining success and whatnot.  I’m still working on that in some ways.  Stay tuned.
  • A shout-out to Tim Chester and his organizing the second annual (unofficial) EDUCAUSE Fun Run.  The obvious choice was up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, and we had about 20 people this time (in Anaheim in 2016 it was three of us!)

All in all, EDUCAUSE remains my premier professional development event, and I will continue to participate fully,  as an attendee, as a volunteer whenever my professional association needs me, and hopefully this year as a co-presenter with some great colleagues.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and hope to see many of you in Denver this fall.

 

Nostalgia

Feeling a little nostalgic as of late.  This is because of four things:

  1. I recently passed my one year anniversary at Baruch.  I didn’t really mark it at the time because I was on vacation.  But I’ve always thought it takes a calendar year to really experience and understand new things–especially in academia where the calendar gives us more structure than some other workplaces.  Facebook reminding me of my post on my last day working at Drew and my first day at Baruch also helped quite a bit, as well as LinkedIn reminding me (and several colleagues congratulating me there.)  One year to me is also when I have to stop calling myself “new”, with the commensurate set of expectations.
  2. Last night I went to a going away dinner for yet another of my work colleagues who have left Drew. There have been several who have left since the start of 2016, and the organization will need to rebuild.  I’m extremely happy for my colleagues who have left, and I am hopeful for those who remain, they are a great team and they will do well.  It was an interesting evening also because several other colleagues who left Drew were also there, and it was a group of people who hadn’t all been together in the same place in a long time, so that felt a bit nostalgic.
  3. I’m right now on a plane to Chicago, where my Frye class of 2006 is having a summit.  Frye was (still) the single most transformative event of my leadership journey, and I’m looking forward to getting together with many of my closest professional friends, and reflecting on the lessons Frye gave us.  It’s convenient that it happens right after my first year at a new job.
  4. It’s spring.  Rebirth and all that.

So I’m feeling a bit reflective and contemplative.  It’s a good time for me to take stock, and ready myself to continue to grow as an employee, professional, and leader.  I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished and yearning to do even more and do it better.  A good time to outfit my toolbox and practice my skills.

How do you refresh, reflect, and recharge?

On the Occasion of my Semianniversary

October 11, 2016 marked six months of working as AVP of IT and Deputy CIO at Baruch College.  Tl;dr:  It’s been the hardest I’ve ever worked, and overall it’s been incredibly rewarding.  And I’m just getting started.

Continue reading On the Occasion of my Semianniversary

What I Learned in the Job Search

As I come up on my six month anniversary at my new job (surely that is worth blogging about, stay tuned) I’ve decided to dust off this post.  Parts of it date from nearly a year ago, as I was basically using it as a place to write down some of the random thoughts that would occur to me during my explorations into the employment market.   (I would always test myself by clicking “Save Draft” instead of “Publish” because I like living on the edge.)  I’ve cleaned it up because I’ve been sharing parts of it with people I know who are on their career paths, and figure it could be of use to others. Of course, this is written by someone who is on the higher education IT leadership track, but it should have some relevance for anyone in the job hunt.

A disclaimer:  I’m not looking for a new job at the moment.  Anything written here is from the perspective of when I was looking for a new job, which was before I had a new job.  I like my new job, a fact about which I’ll elaborate on in a few weeks.

 

Continue reading What I Learned in the Job Search

The first month

I’ve now been an Assistant Vice President and Deputy CIO for just over a month. In some ways, it feels like no time has passed at all.  In other ways, it feels like it’s been forever. Continue reading The first month

When You Know It’s Time

I have just a few weeks left at Drew.  One of the things I keep realizing about this transition is that it’s something I’ve never done before:

 

 

But I had forgotten something when I tweeted this:  As a child, I moved three times before I graduated high school, and my parents moved an additional time right after my graduation, and another time 2 years later while I was in college.  As an adult I have moved to a new domicile 4 or 5 times as well. So I do have some experience with transitions, they’re just more personal than professional.

Every time I’ve moved,  there would always come a point in the move–usually when the movers had packed everything up and the house was filled with nothing but the clutter of the move–when I didn’t want to be there anymore.   There was something about that trigger that made my mind say “Yes, now, it’s time.”

I’m starting to feel that, but it’s not because I’ve physically packed up my office (I’m going to start that soon) but because I’m “packing up” my job. I’m making sure I’m giving things to other people to take on, deliberately not taking on most new things, watching as the organization makes the first steps into doing things without me.  Soon, my job itself will be nothing but a cluttered house, empty except for the pieces that are too unimportant to deal with.

And that is when I will be completely ready to go.

None of this means I won’t miss the place or the people.  Of course I will, and it will be very hard.  But I’m reminded that there’s something about the nature of transitions that readies you for the next step,  just in time for when you need it.

 

Teaching a Class

I’ve been in higher education for nearly 25 years now, and I’m finally doing something I’ve never done before.

Teaching a college course.

Continue reading Teaching a Class

My new bag

In my previous post about EDUCAUSE, I mentioned that I needed a new bag instead of my very heavy and unwieldy Samsonite leather laptop attache I’d been using, and that I was down to either a Tom Bihn bag and a Timbuk2 bag.

Well, I ended up getting a Timbuk2 Command Messenger TSA Laptop bag in black. Medium.

It’s really good.  I’m still finding pockets in it.  I just noticed a few days ago a zipper that led to a pocket near the bottom of the bag–would probably work well for a compact umbrella.  It’s got tons of organizer pockets but they somehow don’t get in the way either.  The main big compartment seems almost big enough to put a weekend’s worth of clothes in, for the right weekend.  The shoulder strap is super comfortable and wearing it messenger style works.

The laptop compartment is basically awesome.  It has a large part which can easily fit a 15″ laptop, and fits my 12.1″ ThinkPad Yoga very well.  The compartment also has another pocket for a tablet, which I use to put my Nexus 10 (and sometimes Nexus 7) into as well.  The whole thing unzips from the main case to lie flat for TSA purposes, which I got to check on our trip back from Oklahoma this Christmas (oddly, on the way down they didn’t have us take anything out of our bags or lie them flat–they didn’t have any bins at the TSA checkpoint and were just running things through intact.)  It’s filled with this cool foam that is more like webbing, lined with nylon mesh.  It is super cushy and super comfortable.  There’s also the Napoleon pocket which you can jam all the stuff from your pockets into when going through airport security, which is great because then you can just pull it all back out as well and it doesn’t get mixed in with your other stuff.

The bag is at least 3 pounds lighter than my old leather attache and is so much more comfortable to carry it’s not even funny (I think I messed up my knee carrying my old bag around EDUCAUSE and it’s just getting better.)

I’m sure a Tom Bihn would also have been a great choice.  My only complaint about the Timbuk2 is is’t not an elegant bag.  I mean , it looks good, but it’s decidedly geeky.  I almost got the Proof bag but I decided to save the money in the end.

At any rate, I’ve been using it for work and for air travel at this point and I keep being impressed with its capabilities, so I can recommend it.  I’ll have some more travel this year and I’ll check back in on its performance and capabilities then.