Welcome Message to Humphrey School Students: 'We Need Your Engagement'

Dean Bloomberg and Associate Dean Squires encourage students to be involved, especially during pandemic
September 8, 2020
Head shots of Laura Bloomberg and Catherine Squires
Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg (left) and Associate Dean Catherine Squires.

Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg and Associate Dean Catherine Squires welcome students to the new academic year, which begins today, with this message of encouragement and advice on how to get the most out of their Humphrey School experience.  

Greetings Humphrey School students:

Welcome to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. This fall we have students joining us from all parts of the United States and countries across the globe. Some of you are coming to the Humphrey School as very recent college graduates and others are returning to higher education after gaining several years of professional experience. 

You bring a truly impressive range of academic and professional experience. Together you bring to the Humphrey School an inspiring 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 civically engaged group of students. We are so glad you’re now a part of the Humphrey community! 

Given the richness of knowledge, views, and lived experiences encompassed in this incoming class, we offer you a little advice as we launch the academic year together:

• 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. Even in this highly remote environment, 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 the many public events/speaker series hosted here throughout the year.

• Get to know students from countries other than your own. We 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 one's peers from places far different from your own can have a substantial impact on your own ability to see important policy matters from multiple vantage points.

• Engage in enriching conversations with peers outside of your classes. Curiosity about what you are studying, reading, or learning about in your classes can spark enlightening discussions later. Make time for that. The learning community you build at the Humphrey School will be a good place to practice the skills of active listening, dialogue, debate, and dissent. 

• Pace yourself. Strive to be fully engaged in your education, but know your limits. Graduate school can be both exhilarating and exhausting. We learn most from experiences when we make time to reflect on them. Also, sleep is good. And exercise. So is time spent with family/friends—and time occasionally spent away from a computer screen :-).  Build for yourself an enriching, but not exhausting, Humphrey School experience. 

• Ask for help when you need it; offer help when you can. Every one of you is qualified to be here. You were admitted to the Humphrey School because we’re confident you have what it takes to be successful. You are not, however, perfect. You can’t possibly know everything. There will be times when you need help. There is no honor or value in ignoring the signs that you could use some assistance. Ask for help when you need it. At the same time, there will very likely be times when you can generously extend a helping hand to others. Offer it when you can. Based on years of experience, we know that both giving and receiving academic and social support will enrich your Humphrey School experience.

• 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. While office hours aren’t in a physical office right now, take good advantage of those virtual meeting opportunities.

• Participate in a Deans Forum. We may not have the opportunity to visit individually with all of you over the year, but we still 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. We will be hosting open Deans Forums with students throughout the year and encourage you to participate in one or more of them. The first Deans Forum will be on Friday, September 11 at noon.  

• 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.

Thank you for bringing your unique talents and contributions to this learning community we will create together over the coming year.

Laura Bloomberg, Dean
Catherine Squires, Associate Dean