Dean Bloomberg to Students: 10 Tips For a Successful Year
September 5, 2017—As the new academic year begins today, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs welcomes more than 200 incoming students. Our students hail from 21 states and nearly 30 countries. Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg joined deans from other schools on the Washington Avenue Bridge this morning to welcome students on the first day of class (pictured at right).
Although Bloomberg is not new to the Humphrey School—she served as associate dean for four years prior to being appointed dean in June—this is her first academic year as dean. She offered students some words of wisdom in person, and elaborated on ways they could make the most of their Humphrey School experience in a letter distributed to the student body this morning. Following is the full text of her letter.
September 5, 2017
Dear Humphrey School students:
First, let me take this opportunity to extend to all of you a hearty welcome—or welcome back—to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs! Although I am not new to the Humphrey School, I am new to my role as your dean and I am very eager to launch the academic year in this capacity. I know we're going to have a fantastic year together.
Whether you are an incoming student or returning after a summer of working, interning, or traveling, you are joining an impressive cohort of students from all parts of the United States and from more than two dozen countries. Some of our newest Humphrey School students are recent college graduates while others are returning to a college campus for the first time in several years.
Collectively, you bring to our community a high level of geographic, political, racial, gender, religious, linguistic, and age diversity. You are a smart, talented, and civically engaged group of students who bring impressive experiences in the public, nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sectors. Together, you will build a unique and exceptional learning community.
Those who know me know that I rarely have a shortage of opinions or advice :-). Today, I offer you a little of both as we launch the year together. Here's my list of the top 10 things I hope you'll do this year:
1. Take advantage of all that the School has to offer beyond the classroom. While you are primarily here for the credit-bearing classes (because, after all, that is what will lead you to your degree), it’s a mistake to assume this is the only place where learning will occur. There are countless opportunities to engage with faculty, staff, and other students outside of classes. Join a student organization and attend public events/speaker series hosted here throughout the year. Participate in a lunchtime Humphrey community conversation (an email on this is forthcoming).
2. Pace yourself. Do stuff, but know your limits. Sleep is good. So are family and friends. Remember this.
3. Get to know students from other countries. I mean really get to know them. It is a tremendous asset to be in a learning community with people from all over the world only if we treat it like an asset. A great conversation about the lives of one’s peers from other countries can be both enriching and surprising.
4. Engage in healthy discussions with people who do not share your views. Allow yourself to be challenged. This may be difficult, but please do it. Reciprocal listening (you listen to me and I'll listen to you) does not have to signal assent or agreement. And, as Hubert Humphrey was fond of saying, "Democracy is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, debate, and dissent." This learning community is an ideal place to practice those skills.
5. Ask for help when you need it; offer help when you can. As I hope most of you have heard me say often by now: you all deserve to be here—we should know because we admitted you! Also, you are not perfect and there will be times when you need help. Those two statements are not mutually exclusive.
6. Get to know the neighborhood. We are so fortunate that the Humphrey School is situated in the culturally rich and vibrant Cedar-Riverside neighborhood with great food and music, thriving small businesses, and some really interesting gathering spaces. There is a wealth of information about Cedar-Riverside available online, or better yet: venture off campus for a stroll through the neighborhood to get to know it yourself.
7. Visit your professors—during office hours or scheduled appointments. Remember my point above about asking for help? Well, that for sure extends to your professors. They are here for you. Take good advantage of that.
8. Participate in a Dean's Forum. I may not have the opportunity to visit individually with each of you this coming year, but I want to hear from you and understand how things are going. I'll be hosting open forums with students throughout the year and I hope you'll all participate in one or more of them. The first Dean's Forum will take place September 29, from noon to 1:30 p.m.—and I'm buying lunch, so come for the food if nothing else.
9. Use the big red HELP button. On the Moodle site for every Humphrey School class you take, you’ll see a big red HELP button in the upper left corner of the home page. It leads to lots of helpful information of particular relevance to Humphrey School students—like how to reserve a conference room, good places to park, and how the printer system and IT support work at the School. Check it out.
10. Share responsibility for making this a truly exceptional School of Public Affairs. We are ranked among the nation’s top 10 schools of public affairs largely because of the students who build and animate our community. When things are going well, we need your engagement. If things aren’t going so well or should change, we really need your engagement.
Thank you ahead of time for bringing your unique talents and insights and contributions to this space we will share over the coming year.
Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs