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Monday Musings #emchat #highered #admissions #advancement #leadership



Colleagues and friends,

Running a bit late this week because I spent last night shoveling snow and honoring my commitment to Jennie to watch another episode of “Victoria.” I thought I might muse after the episode, but since it centered around the potato famine, which killed one million people in Ireland, I wasn’t quite in the mode afterward!

This edition is a bit shorter than usual because I am fully engaged in a number of tasks that have deadlines, but there are still some things to share.


thought article I can’t get out of my mind

Many of you saw the opinion editorial I had published last week in Inside Higher Ed. I offered some thoughts about what it takes to recruit a vice president of enrollment. If you want to take a look at it, you can read the full text here.

But, the reason I want mention it today is because of the Chernow quote that concludes the piece:

Ron Chernow describes a letter Sherman sent to Grant when he was appointed lieutenant general of the Army: “I cannot congratulate you on your promotion; the responsibility is too great.”

I want to make it clear that I think this quote applies to higher ed leadership in general. The demands are different today than ten years ago and the pressures are greater than ever before. I’ve heard that the average tenure for a provost is four years and for a president seven years. I’ve never seen a figure for vp’s of advancement or enrollment, but I can’t imagine either positions enjoy longer tenures.

The cost of turnover and transition is enormous to an institution, but there seems to be internal and external impatience with leadership that I not altogether healthy for higher education, in my view.

I really admire those professionals who are able to buck the trend and settle in to lead. Leadership, and building follow-ship, takes time and patience, especially in higher education.

Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)

What really drives college costs? This post by EAB is worth reading as we seek to improve our own messaging about college costs and the hypothetical climbing wall or the LSU lazy river. While there is always more we can do to curb costs and eliminate inefficiency, the author concludes, “Instruction is the main expense for every institution type.” One would think that this is what the public would demand!!! The expense of instruction is certainly the driver at Augustana and we should celebrate our investment in students and their collective success.

Emotionally intelligent Teamwork I’ve found tremendous value in Korn Ferry’s weekly summaries. Last week’s include a piece on emotional intelligence that reinforces an approach that I really like. The article discusses the importance of creating cultural norms. It reminds me of what we have in the Office of Admissions at Augustana College. These norms are our emotional commitments we make to each other.

Our norms, which hang in almost every office, are:

We will…


  • Above all, serve students and their families by:
  • Being welcoming and inclusive
  • Offering every visiting student a memorable campus experience
  • Building real relationships with prospective students and families
  • Enrolling the best class possible by taking every aspect of recruitment personally


Foster an office culture of encouragement, support and success by:


  • Working collaborative with campus partners and across the higher ed landscape
  • Taking pride in what we do, who we are, and Augustana College
  • Continuing to seek knowledge and better ways to tell the Augustana story as we work toward meeting the strategic goals of the college.


Do you have something like this in your office? Have you thought about putting something like this together? How would you start?


Something for you (and me) to think about

There are two things that I keep around as reminders to keep me centered.

One is my screensaver, which is picture of Chimney Rock in Bayard, Nebraska. (see attachment). Because I look at my phone a lot (too much) this picture reminds me of my roots, growing up in western Nebraska, where I lived from 1970 until 1992. The panhandle of Nebraska will always by home for me. The community of Gering, Nebraska and the congregation at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church has had an enduring impact on who I am and who I’ve become. I find myself often thinking about the friends I know from Gering when I am trying to think carefully and critically about sensitive issues. I need this reminder on a daily basis and am very grateful for Nebraska.


The second thing that I have in my office is a framed copy of a letter from the Dean of Academic Advising at Gettysburg College (see attachment). The date on the letter is December 29, 1989 and it was sent to inform me that the Academic Standing Committee had removed me from academic probation. I am so very grateful that I ran across this letter a few years ago when I was cleaning out my parent’s home. The reminders of my own struggles in college and making a successful transition to college, have always informed and guided my work in college admissions and now in advancement. It’s always been my objective to see promise in prospective students and prospects.


What do you keep around to keep you centered?

Is there something you’d like me to muse upon?

If you are curious about a topic or would like some musings about something in particular, please let me know by emailing me at wkentbarnds@augustana.edu

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add anyone who might benefit (or have mild interest) to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday. Past issues of my musings can be found at my blog @bowtieadmission

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