David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
A Student Is On Line Four

10/11: "A student is on line four.  Tell them I'm in a meeting."

The scene in It's All Academic where Provost Carter has to deal with the irate husband of a student, and then eventually the sad student herself, was way too typical of many student phone calls that came to the provost's office.  In fact, the increasingly graphic use of swear words by Hector Viola pales in comparison to the choice words used by one student in telling me about his interactions with various lower-level administrators, and eventually me.  Ah, Deb and John, we were given some wonderful monikers that day, weren't we?

The sense of entitlement that has permeated today's students is frightening; it is often all the worse when parents and spouses are brought in.  I will admit that I was hardly the model undergraduate student, but when I screwed up, I never once asked my professor for leniency, let alone demand it.  Today, a student is likely to miss several weeks of class, then show up with helicopter mom to claim that he or she has been treated unfairly.

I simply don't miss those kinds of interactions with students, much preferring the warm, charming interactions that were more impromptu. One day I walked past graduating senior nursing students who were presenting poster board presentations of their capstone projects.  I stopped and talked with each one (there were 7 or 8) for fifteen or twenty minutes each, so glad to learn of their passion for their fields and to see their confidence/elation at graduating.  I heard later from a faculty member that these students couldn't stop talking about how the provost took time to talk to each one of them individually.  To me, it was a no-brainer.  I even felt a little embarrassed that it had been such a big deal to them.

On average, once one becomes an administrator, every wonderful experience with a student is offset by four or five horrible experiences with students.  It is unfortunate, but comes with the territory.

So, despite the fact that nursing seems to be a frequent target in my book, here's to that 2010 graduating class.  Thanks, ladies, for reminding me what was good about the job.