Aug 192014

First day of school, 2014We have survived opening and a new school year is underway! There was lots of activity this summer as the Dean of Students Office saw a change in leadership, with Dr. Art Munin coming in from DePaul University. This came amid a flurry of other changes in the Division of Student Affairs that have kept us all hopping over the past several months.

It is my intent to update this blog a little more frequently this year. There is still more to come in terms of Title IX commentary, as the issue continues to hold the national spotlight. I was recently interviewed on our local NPR station, and NPR itself is in the midst of an in depth review of this topic. Some of the legislation coming down the pike is going to make for some interesting conversation in the months ahead. I will also be tackling some other topics of interest as time permits this fall.

The fall promises to be a busy semester. In addition to making progress on my dissertation, I will be heading to ATIXA’s Title IX training in Phoenix in September, and then will be presenting at the joint ATIXA/SCOPE joint national conference in Orlando in October. Additionally, Brian Van Brunt and I will be repeating an NCHERM webinar on adjudicating “drunk sex” cases this October, and I will be off to The College of Wooster in November to provide conduct board training and professional development seminars.

And yes, this pic above is from the first day of school earlier this week. Not only was everyone up and ready to go this year… they were actually early! It was an unexpected but welcome surprise. I hope everyone else’s semesters are off to a good start, and I’ll see you soon in the virtual world.

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May 102013

We have made it to the end of another academic year, and I will take a few minutes to pause and reflect before diving into the projects that have been unattended to as the result of a very busy spring. We have commencement ceremonies tonight and tomorrow, and I am very happy for the students that I have worked with who will be graduating this weekend.

I have finished my final class towards my doctorate degree, and am now in the process of writing my dissertation proposal, with the hopes of conducting my research in the fall before writing and defending the final product. My study is focusing on the self-efficacy of practitioners to manage conflict in the student conduct setting, with student conduct including adjudicatory processes, mediation, restorative justice practices, conflict coaching, and other forums of resolution. I have identified a host institution and am really looking forward to getting underway, with the hopes of being able to participate in my own commencement ceremony next May. 🙂

This summer is focused on getting the doctoral proposal submitted, as well as moving forward on some NCHERM projects. One thing I am very excited about is the upcoming new mediation curriculum, which I am hoping will be done by the end of the summer. We have been using some of the new material in training programs, and the revised curriculum is definitely an upgrade over the older Mastering Mediation materials. More information will follow about the completion of these materials, as well as when and where they will be available for campuses to purchase.

Continue reading »

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May 242012

I haven’t done much updating of late, as I have been busy with many different projects. More information will follow during the summer, but here’s a re-cap of what I’ve been up to.

Rick at Chamber of Commerce

Rick keynotes Chamber of Commerce educational conference

On May 17, I had the opportunity to keynote a McLean County Chamber of Conference EDUCate conference with the theme of “Who changed the game? The new rules of work.” I presented an hour long speech on conflict management in both the work place and at home to over 90 participants in attendance. I then facilitated an hour long follow-up breakout session on conflict management styles. Thanks to all thos who were in attendance for your participation and excellent questions. Many thanks to Brian Davis at the Chamber for his gracious invitation. Continue reading »

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Feb 142012

The week of February 1-7 proved to be quite an interesting one in my life, both personally and professionally. I started the week traveling to the annual conference of the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA), my first trip back to ASCA since they moved their conference location from Clearwater Beach, FL to St, Pete Beach, FL. The new location at the Tradewinds is a great choice, and the staff there demonstrated exceptional customer service and attention to detail throughout my visit. I began the conference by proposing to my partner Sandra (she accepted), so the week could have ended right there and I would have been happy.

But the week did not end there; it was only beginning. The conference focused heavily on issues surrounding Title IX, threat assessment, and conflict resolution. Perhaps the best session came right away in the conference when Brett Sokolow, Bernice Sandler, Wendy Murphy, and Nancy Hogshead-Makar presented a powerful session on Title IX and the Dear Colleague Letter. Sandler in particular was a treat to hear, given her history and deep involvement in Title IX. The follow up question and answer session was equally entertaining and enlightening.

The conference also saw the public introduction of NCHERM-CR, a professional practice group out of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM). As the “CR” designation suggests, this group focuses on conflict resolution strategies beyond the adjudication of student conduct, focusing on mediation, conflict coaching, and restorative justice. I am honored that Brett Sokolow has asked me to chair this group, which at present includes such talented professionals as Chris Loschiavo (University of Florida), David Karp (Skidmore College), and Matt Gregory (LSU). We are currently developing our program menu and considering our initial projects as we launch what we hope will be a transformational effort in the area of student conduct and conflict resolution. I feel a debt of gratitude to Brett Sokolow, who sees this opportunity to benefit our profession and to give life to a network of professionals, several of us of whom were struggling to advance the former Campus Mediation Project. We will be adding more professionals over time, as well as working with consultants on a project by project basis. I am very excited about the work that we have to do. I am also now beginning the re-write of my original mediation training materials, which I expect to complete by summer in advance of the 2012-2013 training calendar.

Continue reading »

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Jan 182012

I know I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from posting here, but it’s been very needed. The end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 have been very eventful, both in my personal and professional life. There is lots to share as I move forward this year, so keep checking back for regular updates.

The big personal news to date is that I have completed my comprehensive examinations (pending approval) and am now moving forward full-speed with my dissertation proposal, which I plan to defend in late spring. I have refined my research questions in the process of preparing for comps, and am now looking at a qualitative review of the preparedness of student affairs practitioners (most notably in student conduct and/or conflict resolution) to manage conflicts and to assist others in managing conflicts. It is based off a small pilot study I did back in 2004, and I am pretty excited about having a sense of clarity on my topic.

Work continues to go along well, and our Student Government Association continues to have a very productive and successful year. They have had many achievements this year, and have launched a new website to better connect with students. I am looking forward to seeing what this group can accomplish before they are done in April and a new group takes over.

In terms of conflict resolution work, I have decided that the Campus Mediation Project has finally run its course. While there is much work to be done in terms of promoting the development and implementation of more comprehensive conflict resolution systems on college campuses, the CMP is simply no longer the vehicle to be able to accomplish this. The movement is much bigger than mediation now, and needs to provide for a full spectrum of conflict resolution services. Additionally, the structure of CMP simply was not allowing me the opportunity to do as much as I would like.

However, there is an announcement coming in the next couple of weeks about my next project, which I am very excited about. More news will be posted on this site in early February involving campus conflict resolution efforts, so please stay tuned!



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Apr 252011

Long before I arrived at his presentation tonight, I knew that an evening with Edward James Olmos was going to be rewarding. After all, here is my favorite actor from one of my favorite shows (Battlestar Galactica) who is a social activist coming to our campus to speak about one of my favorite topics (social justice). No matter what my expectations however, they were far surpassed by the man who took the stage tonight and shared his gifts and talent. In all it turned out to be two hours of my life that could not have been better spent anywhere else.

Leaving the house lights on so that he could see each of us, Olmos began by talking about his own identity, or more aptly identities. Thanks to my education I have long viewed race as an imperfect social construct that creates more problems than it settles, but it took Olmos to really bring this to life for me and help me appreciate the destructive power of racial identity. Olmos reflected on his identity as a Chicano; half-Mexican and half-Spanish, born in the United States. He talked about the power of an identity that was five hundred years old, commenting that he would not be who he was without this mixture of cultures, and the strength that he draws from both. But before he could be a Chicano, European or a Mexican, he had to be indigenous to the Americas, a history of forty thousand years. And even before that, he had to be Asian for many thousands of years before those people crossed the Bering Strait into North America. And of course before that, he had his roots in Africa, as do we all.

The point is an obvious but powerful one; all of humanity comes from Africa, and the reason we are “different” from one another now is because we took different migratory routes off of our original continent. What Olmos wanted us to remember was that we have more in common than we have separating us, a fact too often forgotten. He drew upon Battlestar Galactica to see how one amazing science fiction series dared to challenge us by making us think about what it means to be human, particularly when we might identify more with the machine-race Cylons than we do with humanity. And it was that show’s grappling with issues of human rights, suicide bombers, terrorism, reconciliation, and right to life versus right to choose that ultimately resulted in the cast and creators of Battlestar being invited to the United Nations to discuss those very same issues in detail. Continue reading »

Mar 092011

March 9, 2011

It’s spring break week at ISU, which means the perfect time to catch up on some projects in the office. I will also be taking a couple of days to work on my dissertation proposal as my literature map continues to evolve.

There will be more information coming on the Campus Mediation Project as the services and their related proposals are in the process of being re-vamped. The new site will be linked off of this one, as opposed to maintaining a separate domain name. I am also hoping to post some additional resources and links to the site, but that won’t happen until I make more headway on the proposal. None the less, if there is something specific you are looking for, please let me know. I will either post it, or email it directly.

Feb 162011

February 16, 2011

Thanks to the wonderful Web Mistress for freshening this site up!

As far as personal updates, I am currently focusing on the draft of my dissertation proposal, with much thanks to Dr. Presley, who is serving as my writing coach while my advisor/chair is on sabbatical. I have been making great progress and uncovering some literature that I was previously not aware of. My topic has now shifted to focus on the conflict resolution skills of student affairs practitioners, most notably those responsible for managing student conduct and conflict resolution. I think it is going to turn out to be a fascinating experience, and it is one which I am really enjoying.

The updated version of the mediation materials (Mastering Mediation) is on hold until my dissertation is completed, so my expectation is that we will be looking at putting that together in 2012.

As for happenings at ISU, I had the wonderful experience of teaching a freshman LinC (Learning in Communities) class this past fall. Twenty-three students were in my section, and we explored transitioning to college and personal development, career exploration, and civic engagement. I had an outstanding Peer Instructor (Joline Pettit) who connected well with our students, and I am expecting some big things while these students are at ISU. Our Student Government Association continues to have an active and successful year, and the elections process is now starting for spring. Within the Dean of Students Office, our Cultural Competency Committee has had an outstanding year to date, offering staff training opportunities, implementing a personal competency planning tool, and is now engaged in an overall cultural competence assessment of our office.

Never a dull moment to be sure. More to come in a couple of weeks.