Monthly Archives: April 2012


While in the airport to take a flight to Charleston, Illinois, where my alma mater Eastern Illinois University (EIU) is located, I was reflecting on how my two return visits since graduating were beyond anything I could have imagined while a student. My first visit was to receive the Distinguished Alumna Award, and now I was returning to receive the Outstanding Alumna Award (read remarks) from the Graduate School and the Department of Student Development.

The first recognition was the same month and year I became executive director of NASPA, I believe. I remember as part of those remarks referencing how bittersweet the homecoming was. The bitter was reflecting on being a student at the university at a time when I felt neither welcome nor counted. I had the temerity to be there because the courts said I had a right to be there.

This time the visit had no bitter. Only sweet. Two African American graduate students took me on a tour of the campus, and everywhere I looked, there was racial diversity. All students looked as if they belonged at EIU. The progress made helped me think of all the benefits I have enjoyed as a graduate.

May we continue to progress as we serve a new diversity of students, that none might be hampered by barriers, but all might join me in seeing clearly the benefits of higher education…

The “Dependent” Generation?

Sitting in a private dining room at a table with 10-12 students who had been invited to lunch with me by the Dean of Students’ office, I might have thought I was in a reality show that had been heavily scripted because these students loved their school. Yet, I know that the comments were not scripted because of the sincerity of the students and the integrity of the academic community at this small private college in New England.

I thanked the students for spending time with me and, to get them to relax before beginning our discussion, I asked them what they would be doing if they were not meeting with me.  Some of the things they said they would be doing made us laugh, and we were soon ready to talk.  Each student told me their name, year in school, major area of study, and a little about their background. Then I asked them some questions.

As we moved into the conversation, I told them that over the years demographers, the press, and others have attempted to group a generation of students under various labels such as Gen X, Millennial, etc. because the students, as a group, shared some common characteristics.  I asked them what name would they use to describe their generation. There were some interesting suggestions, including “‘micro-organisms’ because of social media, we are always in each other’s face and space whether we choose to have it that way or not.” Another student suggested “dependent,” and all agreed and gave various examples of why “dependent” was the best term to describe their generation. By the way, none of these students saw themselves as “dependent.” All of their examples were from observations of other students.

Interestingly, what these students like best about their college is that it is “so supportive.” They loved their school and could not say enough about the many ways the college demonstrated its support. What became clear to me during these fascinating discussions was that the college’s brand connected with families who knew that their students were dependent and needed a lot of support.

I could give my opinion here, but I think it’s best that you form your own. What do you think?