Dean Bloomberg Welcomes Students for 'A Fantastic Year Together'
Welcome—or welcome back—to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs! This fall we have students returning from all parts of the globe having had some exceptional summer internship experiences, and new students coming to us with a truly impressive level of academic and professional experience.
This makes me doubly excited about the coming year because the curiosity, engagement and lived experiences of our student community create a thriving learning environment here. We're going to have a fantastic year together.
Whether you are a new student or returning after a summer of working, interning, or travelling, you are joining an impressive cohort of students arriving from all parts of the United States and from more than a dozen countries. Some of our newest Humphrey students are coming to the School as very recent college graduates and others are returning to a college campus for the first time in several years.
Together you bring to the Humphrey an exciting level of geographic, political, racial, gender, religious, linguistic and age diversity. Collectively, you bring experiences in the public, nonprofit, philanthropic and private sectors. You are a smart, talented and very civically engaged group of students. Together you will build a 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 top 10 list of 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, it would be 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, participate in a Humphrey School working committee, or attend public events/speaker series hosted here throughout the year (note that public events are always posted on our HHH website).
2. 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—but only if we treat it like an asset. A real conversation with ones' peers from other countries can have a substantial impact on your own ability to see important policy matters from another vantage point.
3. Engage in healthy discussions with people who do not share your views. Allow yourself to be challenged. This can be uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Reciprocal and respectful listening (you listen to me and I'll listen to you) does not have to signal assent or agreement. As Hubert Humphrey reminded us, "Democracy is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, debate and dissent." This learning community should be a good place to practice those skills.
4. 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. Venture off campus for a stroll through the neighborhood to get to know it yourself. Many of our terrific student organizations are planning activities in partnership with the neighborhood this year. Stay tuned for more information on this.
5. Pace yourself. Strive to be fully engaged in your education, but know your limits. Make time to reflect on your experiences. As John Dewey said, "We don’t learn from experiences; we learn from reflecting on our experiences." Also, sleep is good. So is time spent with family/friends.
6. 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.
7. Visit your professors—during office hours or scheduled appointments. You know that comment about asking for help? Well, that for sure extends to your professors. They are here for you and they hold office hours for a reason. Take good advantage of that.
8. Participate in a Dean's Forum. I may not have the opportunity to visit individually with all of you over the year, but still I want to hear how things are going for you as a student and learn how we can continually improve what we do as a School. Associate Dean Carissa Slotterback and I will 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 be on Wednesday, October 17 at noon, and lunch will be provided. I hope you’ll join us.
9. Share responsibility for making this a truly exceptional school of public affairs. We are ranked nationally as a top 10 school of public affairs largely because of the students who build and energize our community. When things are going really well, we need your engagement. If something isn't going so well or something needs to change, we really need your engagement. Thanks ahead of time for bringing your unique talents and contributions to this place we will share over the coming year.
10. Come to the Dean's reception Tuesday afternoon and meet someone new. See you there!