Dear faculty, staff, and students,
There's been lots of good news these past few weeks.
increases across the board
fall-to-fall retention rate for first-time undergraduate students —
that is, students who are new to college who enrolled here last fall
and returned this fall semester — rose from 77.3% last year to
79.4% this year.
is the highest retention rate we have had in the last nine years and
represents the fifth straight year this number has increased. This is
the figure we report to the Federal government.
also increased among all new undergraduates (that is, transfer
students as well as new-to-college students) and among all
undergraduates taken together.
is an overall measure of the student experience, both in the
classroom and out. These numbers reflect the great work of everyone
who comes into contact with our students, from the Admissions Office
in the initial stages to the Student Life department to everyone in
the University — and especially the faculty.
to everyone who has contributed to this achievement. We intend to
continue doing everything we can to further increase these numbers.
helps form the new Iowa College Sustainability Alliance
Lonnie Gamble and Steve Langerud have inspired faculty at Grinnell
College and Luther College — two of Iowa’s leading private
colleges — to form the Iowa College Sustainability Alliance.
purpose of the Alliance is to organize exchanges and collaborative
projects among students and faculty at colleges across Iowa. They are
planning to start with a summer sustainability institute for students
— with the first one hosted at MUM next summer, and then rotating
among institutions. Other collaborations could include sharing guests
speakers. We are already planning an exchange with Grinnell when the
former Minister of Education for Bhutan visits here later this year.
Here's what Steve Langerud says about this:
What I have heard from faculty at other colleges while I have been on the road is this: MUM students are head and shoulders above students at other colleges in terms of their understanding of deep sustainability, their practical application of these principles, and, finally, their post graduate activities that bring these ideas to life as social and business entrepreneurs and activists.
When Lonnie mentioned that he would like to learn what they are doing in their curriculum, the faculty member said, "Your students should be teaching us what to teach!"
Clearly, in the area of sustainability, MUM is admired for its innovative curriculum and outcomes. From what I hear, we are the not just the leading edge, but the bleeding edge of this scholarly area. (I would argue for the development of a scholarly, peer reviewed journal housed at MUM!)
One student who I met and shared information about our study abroad programs went to a computer and looked up MUM. He came back to me and said, "I am so jealous of those students. I wish I had known about MUM when I was picking a college."
Six students from DePauw will join Lonnie on the Hawaii J-Term program. And many are interested in joining MUM students in Bhutan this summer. Another student plans to study at MUM next fall.
I have learned so much going out and sharing our programs. We should continue to push our faculty and students into public positions as thought leaders in deep sustainability and preparation for satisfying careers.
and thank you to Lonnie and Steve, on helping place MUM
in this leadership role in Iowa, and to David Fisher and everyone in the Sustainable Living department for creating such a high-quality learning experience for our students.
Check out Steve Langerud's new "Career Coach" blog
Steve has created a blog for students entitled "Career Coach: Strategies and Tactics for Career Success."
This is just one of many things Steve is doing, along with Jan Sickler, to strengthen our Career Center for students — and also for alumni. In a future blog post, I'll lay out all the exciting initiatives.
your phone – campus-wide protocol
like to clarify our protocol for handling phone calls. This may be
slightly different from what was sent out earlier.
– Always answer your phone when it rings in your office — Do
not let it go onto voicemail. We are here to serve the people who
need us, and this is one of the most important ways to do it. If
you’re in a meeting and cannot talk at length, take the call and
quietly tell the person when to call back or when you will return the
– Switch on voicemail when you leave your desk — People
expect to be able to leave a message if you are away from your phone.
We don’t want to frustrate people by having them place calls to
phones that just ring and ring. Keep your voicemail message short: "This is Hugh Jackman, please leave me a message," or "This is Katy Perry, please leave a message or call back later."
– If you need to be reached when you’re away from your office,
make sure people can reach you on your cell — Forward your
office phone to your cell phone as necessary.
– Return all calls promptly — We are a service organization —
and few things say “excellent customer service” than getting back
to people right away
are we doing? Comment from a member of the Fairfield community
must be doing pretty well with this. I received this unsolicited
comment from a Fairfield resident, who had worked to help plan an
event on campus:
would like to share with you a positive experience I had in the
run-up to the event, which is how delightful it was to work with
people (mostly over the phone) who I do not know, but who impressed
me as having an extraordinary combination of friendliness,
intelligence, competency, and professionalism along with overflowing
bliss. Just interacting with the MUM staff over the phone felt almost
like a number one experience in the Dome!
made me think how wonderful it would be if lots and lots of people
could have an experience similar to my own. The contrast between the
usual "customer service" interaction over the phone or in
person at almost every company or institution these days with my
uplifting experience with MUM staff was really striking. It seemed to
me that many non-meditators could become very receptive to learning
TM and/or attending MUM just by getting a chance to be "served"
by the wonderful staff that are so ably helping you accomplish
Maharishi's CBE goals.
you to everyone for making one of our “customers” so satisfied
that he took the time to write me this note.
master planning takes another step forward
Wallace Drive transformed into a beautiful pedestrian mall, perfectly
straight, paved with brick, lined with trees and flags. . . . Now
picture it extending across Highway 1, with a 12-story Maharishi
Tower of Invincibility at its western end. . . . Picture a broad set
of stairs leading up to the mall on the east, with a water feature
running down the middle. . . . Envision a beautiful outdoor
amphitheater sculpted into the hill in front of the Argiro Student
Center, with a water feature there as well — a place for outdoor
concerts and festivals and just enjoying the space. . . . Picture
bike and pedestrian walkways connecting all parts of campus.
are just a few of the features we will see on our campus as the
Campus Master Plan gets implemented in the years to come. The process
has been guided by a landscape architecture firm, Confluence,
based in Iowa City.
these are just broad brushstrokes. To actually implement the plan,
many small design decisions are necessary. Looking at architects’
drawings can take you only so far. Creating a pedestrian mall, for
example, will require dozens of finer-level decisions.
the best way to do this?
and visit other pedestrian malls — and outdoor amphitheaters, etc.
— and see how others have done it.
is what Dr.
Jeffrey Abramson, Chair of our Board of Trustees, proposed. Dr.
Abramson should know. He’s a partner in The Tower Companies, the
award-winning and sustainability-oriented Washington DC-based real
estate development and building firm.
Abramson proposed that a group of University leaders join him in
visiting some sites in Iowa (he even generously funded the expense of
this trip). Besides Dr. Abramson, the group
included Dr. Bevan Morris, Trustees Toby Lieb and Doug Greenfield,
Dr. David Streid, Michael and Rosemary Spivak, architect Jon Lipman,
and Kathy Brooks. They were joined by representatives from
looked at campus streets that had been converted to pedestrian malls.
They examined amphitheaters, walkways, bioswales, and water features.
In particular, they visited the amphitheater with water feature and
native plantings at the Leed-certified Aviva Campus in West Des
Moines; the pedestrian mall at Central College with overhanging
trees, a fire pit, and personal-sized spaces; the unique horse-tail
bio-swale at Drake University; and the terraced native gardens at the
Capitol Building in Des Moines.
was a preliminary step to the next phase of the Master Plan, which
will now focus on detailed planning for the central campus area.
you to Dr. Jeffrey Abramson, for inspiring, funding, and
participating in this trip. And thanks to Dr. Dave Streid, who
has poured so much time into our campus master planning process.
Click here to page through the beautiful booklet that lays out the master plan, with drawings of what the Wallace pedestrian mall and the outdoor amphitheater and other features will look like.
vision for our campus need not be some distant dream. Any day we
could wake up to the news that someone has decided to provide the
funds to make this vision a reality. Let’s do everything we can to
deserve that support of natural law.
of Pella to Des Moines Campus Landscaping Tour
September 25-26, 2013
pit, seating, Central College
Mall, Central College; former city street; variety of elements
projecting in and out on sides.
Bioswale, Aviva Campus
course, amphitheater, Aviva campus
course, amphitheater, Aviva campus
racks, multiple campuses, from Signage, Aviva campus
bioswales lining pedestrian walk & former road that slopes. Walk
is periodically interrupted with strip of pavers (bottom left in
photo). When rainwater sheeting down walk hits a paver strip it soaks
between the pavers where it is taken to the bioswales.
lined with over-arching trees both sides, Drake University
two bioswales a walk lined with large limestone blocks, Des Moines
lighting: light bulb shines up; the light hits horizontal reflector
and is reflected down onto the ground, with no visible bright point
of light or light pollution. Two examples, River Walk, Des Moines.
varieties of native plants, State Capitol Plaza, Des Moines
Don’t forget about the online suggestion box
If you have a suggestion for improving anything at the University — to save time or money or improve service — please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can win a $40 gift certificate at the Store or Golden Dome Market if your suggestion is chosen as the best that month.
Speaking of making things even better . . .
I want to make sure everyone knows about the free online Lean training course that we all now have full access to. I encourage everyone to spend an hour or two looking through this. It’s full of systematic tools for how to do less and accomplish more in any organization.
Lean has been a great success in the University so far, and we have only scratched the surface. We will be applying Lean tools to every area in the University. The more familiar we all are with this, the better.Also see mum.edu/lean
We will have a staff meeting where we walk everyone through the basics in this course.
* * * * * * *
For a "small" private college, there is such incredible dynamism in this place, almost hard to keep pace with — such amazing creativity, with so many opportunities coming our way. It's a great time to be here.
JAI GURU DEV