Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Carnegie Mellon University

I visited Carnegie Mellon University this last week as a speaker in the University Lecture Series. In addition to delivering an evening lecture, I met with three different student groups, a mix of faculty and staff, and the House Fellows (full-time staff in the residence halls). Carnegie Mellon also just happens to be the institution where my youngest daughter received her bachelor's degree in 2006 and now serves as a 5th-year Scholar. Carnegie Mellon has been an incredible place for her. Therefore, it was a very special pleasure to give back a little bit by contributing to their campus conversation on leadership. Thanks to former Miami graduate student, Jon Kroll, for bringing me to Carnegie Mellon.

"My heart is in the work" is a quote used throughout Carnegie Mellon's campus. This is a quote from its founder, Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Carnegie was a poor Scottish imigrant who came to the U.S.A. as a young boy. Having experienced poverty, he was ambitious and took advantage of every opportunity to amass wealth, which he was very effective in doing. Adjusting for the value of the dollar, he is reported to be the richest man every to walk the earth. His motto was this amazing statement, "My heart is in the work." There simply couldn't be a better motto for an institution that wants to take leadership seriously. My "Deeper Leadership" proposal is based on the belief that the best of leadership begins with discovering the work worth doing, or in Andrew Carnegie's words, work in which his heart was completely invested. While not all of us will become fabulously wealthy, those of us who find and live our life's work will surely acquire riches in the fulfillment of our work. I believe that Carnegie Mellon is seriously committed to helping its students find conviction and purpose and that is why students engage deeply in their learning and it is why their students will be successful and will contribute much to the world around them.

Two of the more interesting encounters during the Carnegie Mellon visit were meetings with students from the Qatar Education City campus and with the House Fellows. There were about 8-10 Qatar students who were visiting Pittsburgh and attended a luncheon, my lecture, and then a dessert reception following the lecture. These students are wildly enthusiastic about being among the first to graduate next year from this brand new institution. And, they sensed both the opportunity and challenge of their education. They know that they will have great career opportunities and they want to represent Carnegie Mellon well as they begin to make a difference throughout the middle east. This is a powerful example of the transformative impact of higher education and it was great to see the emerging product. The other group I found very stimulating was the House Fellow group. I used Chapter 1 of Deeper Learning in Leadership with this group. Chapter 1 covers the emergence of faculty and student affairs roles in colleges and universities of the U.S.A. and then critiques how these roles and the complexity of our institutions either contribute to or distract from learning. This meeting (1.5 hours) was one of the easiest of my visit. I simply engaged them in conversation about their reactions to the chapter and I couldn't be happier about how well they seemed to take to the ideas I proposed. This is the first time I've used this chapter and I'm anxious to see how others respond as Deeper Learning in Leadership makes it into print this summer.

Next stop - Orlando. I have three presentations at ACPA this coming weekend. One is a brief presentation and colleagues' reactions to the Deeper Learning in Leadership ideas. Come back to see how it went...

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