Presidential Perspectives
Presidential Perspectives: The State of Foreign Student/Scholar Advising

Ben FranklinProfessional Development

Suggestions from:
          Gary Althen (2006)
          John Greisberger (2006)
          Kay Thomas (2010)
          Jerry Wilcox (2006)
          Valerie Woolston (2006 & 2010)


Gary Althen

  • If you aren't physically and mentally healthy yourself, you cannot consistently do a good job. Taking care of yourself needs to get top priority.

  • Becoming a good international education practitioner is a long-term enterprise, because so much of one's effectiveness is based on one's network of constructive working relationships and deep understanding of one's institution's ways of working.

  • I read somewhere that "When your number one problem gets solved, your number two problem gets promoted." Keeping that in mind helps maintain one's patience and persistence.

  • The Oneidas allegedly had a "rule of six," which said that before one makes a judgment about something someone has done, one should entertain at least six possible interpretations of what they did. That practice keeps one mindful of the crucial fact that different people see things differently.

  • In Dinosaur Brains (New York: Random House, 1989), Albert Bernstein and Sydney Rozen offer some "corporate laws of gravity":
  1. There ain't no justice.

  2. Things never happen the way they are supposed to.

  3. People will not do what they should do.

  4. People will consider their own feelings and best interests before they consider yours.

  5. Wherever there are people, there will be politics.

  6. There never will be a time of smooth sailing.

  7. The federal government was not created to make your job easier or more efficient.

  8. All the information will never be in.

  1. Be proactive.

  2. Begin with the end in mind.

  3. Put first things first.

  4. Think win/win.

  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

  6. Synergize.

  7. Sharpen the saw.

John Greisberger

  • The most important thing that I do as director is shape the culture of the office by keeping the focus on a few strong values. I think these values provide useful guidance to foreign student/scholar advisors in general. They are:

  1. Belief in the importance of providing superior service.

  2. Belief in the importance of the details in our work.

  3. Belief in the importance of treating people as individuals.

  4. Belief in the importance of informality to enhance communication.

  5. Belief in the importance of innovation.

  6. Belief in the importance of a good sense of humor.
This notion of culture and values was a main theme of Tom Peters' book In Search of Excellence written in the early 1980s. He said CEOs need to shape the culture of an organization. They do this by clearly stating key values. This enables staff to act without always asking what they should do. They know to do things that support the values and conform to the culture. The values below are pretty standard, but through a staff retreat 20 years ago, my staff narrowed down a long list to these and they still work for us.
  • Leaders must operate at the far edge of the frontier - where the future is being made. They must have vision and the ability to create new things, or at least make old things seem new. (Warren Bennis)

  • But above all, try something. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

  • Eighty percent of success is showing up. (Woody Allen)

  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Kay Thomas

  • Hire a strong creative committed staff, train them well, empower them, and move aside. Be available for coaching, but definitely do NOT micromanage.

  • Be a vigilant observer of the present, read and listen for trends, mine data and make decisions based on how you see the future.

  • Tie your work to your university's strategic goals and plans, talk about what you do and what you contribute in their language, and find every opportunity to sit at the table where decisions are made.

  • Always keep a sense of humor. Remember, the glass is half full, not half empty.

Jerry Wilcox

  • Management advice from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert cartoons:

    Scott's rule no. 1: The 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of good management is hiring the right people. The other twenty percent is getting out of their way.

    Scott's rule no. 2: Workers often assume the boss's decisions are wrong. Explaining the thinking and data behind them can win over doubters.

    Scott's rule no. 3: Give employees their own turf. People won't do their best work if they expect the boss will always change it.

    Scott's rule no. 4: Keep employees focused on goals beyond their current job. They'll be happier and more tolerant of daily frustrations.

  • And from the Legendary Service participants workbook (Blanchard, Heil and Tate, 1989):

    96% of all unhappy customers never complain to the company about the rude or discourteous treatment they receive.

    Every unhappy customer's negative story will be shared with at least nine other people.


    Remember, exceptional customer service creates positive stories, and positive stories pay off.

Valerie Woolston

  • Here are 5 questions passed on to me by Jules Lapides, former President of the Council of Graduate Schools.  Before embarking on any project, I try to answer these questions.

  1. What are you doing?

  2. Why are you doing it?

  3. How well are you doing it?

  4. What difference does it make?

  5. Is what you are doing what you say you are doing?
  • From Ogden Nash, The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash (New York: Pocket Books, 1963):

    "Reflection on Ingenuity"
    Here's a good rule of thumb:
    Too clever is dumb.

  • And from Valerie:  Work hard but never forget to play hard.

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