This is a story about coffee mugs. Not ordinary coffee mugs. These are brand new Student Affairs coffee mugs. The mugs feature the Student Affairs mission and the values that the Division members hold dear. This is good stuff and the development of the mission/vision/values was the first step in assembling the Student Affairs strategic plan. That five-year plan contains important elements, including goals and learning outcomes. The goals and outcomes are all systematically being assessed to determine what students learn as the results of our efforts to develop the co-curricular educational experience for our students.
Thanks for getting this far: There will be a payoff. Before the current VP arrived there was a different new mission that was about learning, helping students discover their identities, and helping them discover their places in the world. We brainstormed then about how to brand and communicate our mission, which was before we had our own Web page. One of the ideas was coffee mugs. Sometimes something gets into your head and it won't go away, like the new Miley Cyrus song or the Princess Leia costume in Star Wars. That's the same with me and the coffee mugs.
So, the odyssey began. Students should know that in any work environment employees must justify programs, proposals, purchases, and expenditures That is usually a good thing, to ensure that people are good stewards of their resources. The questions that the mugs and I faced were: How much will the mugs cost? Who will pay for the mugs? What is the point of the mugs? Are they for the staff to learn the values more closely? Are they for others who need to learn our mission? Will they promote the Student Affairs mission and values? Should we have t-shirts instead? Are the costs justified? Where will you get the mugs?
The mugs were approved under the condition they be paid for out of the Dean of Students' humble budget. In order to properly dispense the mugs to the Student Affairs staff I decided to host a Student Affairs "coffee" morning for staff members to come to Northrup 118 for some hot joe and their new mugs. So began odyssey two. I communicated this idea to the Residential Life staff, to which they were supposed to say: "Great idea for the give-away of the great mugs!" In reality their responses were: "I don't drink coffee, do I still have to come?" and, "if you have hot chocolate people might come," and "I only drink tea. Will you have tea?" Josh Brack announced that he would use his mug as a pen holder and not for a drink. The other thing students should know about work environments is that sometimes you just feel like giving up.
So the morning of the unveiling and the Student Affairs "Coffee/Hot Chocolate/Tea Reception" Vice President Felicia Lee responded to my query about her excitement-level by responding "You and those mugs. You are like a pit bull with those mugs." I think this was code for "you, my friend, might just get a bonus this year. The morning was going well. There was great vindication. Staffers were stopping by, enjoying their choices of beverages in the new mugs (which everyone pointed out should be rinsed first...) and then Reverend Nickle gleefully announced that the word "department," in the mission, was supposed to be "development." Though the values on the mugs include things like caring, respect, and integrity, the value of "ha-ha-ha, the stupid mugs aren't even right!" seemed to trump the others. My attempts to blame my senior secretary, the mug company, and Dr. Lee's current and former assistants never gained traction.
All subsequent visitors were asked to read the mission and none of THEM picked up on the mistake. Much like you may have missed the misspelling in the title of this post. If not for the Rev, these mugs would be on the hot ticket list today, rather than being pushed in the face of the Dean of Students by his wonderful colleagues. Amen Reverend.
This all evoked memories of the inaugural Sophomore College t-shirt I designed that read "Sophmore College," and the "Trinty Parent" newsletter. And I consider myself a detail guy. And so goes the story of the Student Affairs mugs... The story of serving, of supporting, and becoming global citizens. And maybe on the next go-around, of double and triple checking.