January Term not so Quiet After all, and That's OK

Quiet . . . a cold January morning, 20 degrees below zero. Trudging through the snow to campus, everything seems different. It’s quiet, there are very few students milling around and I can finally find a close parking spot!

My “to do” lists keep getting longer and longer as I have all this time (the whole month of January) to get things done. As Carol Bruess, a fellow blogger for The Scroll, wrote last month, this is the time when faculty and staff have a chance to “streamline,” to use the quieter days to catch up and plan for the spring semester.

As we know, the month flies by faster than we can imagine, and the quiet is deceptive. Unfortunately, my “to do” list didn’t get any shorter, and my office still isn’t where I want it to be. PMA (Positive Mental Attitude): I still think I can get ahead!

The quiet is deceptive because it really isn’t quiet after all! Students, staff and faculty spend J Term doing a variety of things: studying abroad, VISION trips, a much-needed break, spring program planning, etc. Beyond the classroom and the office, we all have a story to tell about what we did during J Term.

Last Thursday, for example, was supposed to be a day of planning and program management, but with the buzz of students back on campus eager to share their stories, I set the planning aside. Personal attention is one of the university’s seven “Convictions,” and I want to share in students’ excitement. I want to learn about their trips to Spain, Mali, South Africa and Laos, hear about their successes in J Term classes and see how much that month of relaxation recharged and energized them for the spring semester.
I even have my own exciting story to tell. I got engaged over J Term, so I get to share in the excitement of telling my story as well!

One beautiful thing about this institution is its commitment to people, regardless of whether they are students, staff or faculty. Over the next few days, take time to ask a colleague or a student about their J Term and how they are doing. Listen to their stories and then share yours! You will find the stories to be incredible and the life lessons to be immeasurable, and you also will see that to give a student or colleague personal attention is priceless.

Welcome back, students! I am excited to hear your J Term story. Let’s make this semester our best yet.