I neglected to mention in yesterday’s post that I also serve on the on-call team, which is a multi-layered group of staff members who are trained to respond to crises of all sorts, from general wellness concerns to suicidal ideation. I mention this now because on Monday evening, after leaving the office at 7:00 PM to enjoy a restful evening with my husband and my dog, I received a call from the professional residential life staff member at 9:20 PM letting me know that a student had been hit by a car and injured very badly right by campus and it was unclear whether or not he would survive.* He had been brought to the emergency room at a hospital near campus. I dropped everything and ran to my office (which I can see from my apartment) to download all of the information I could find on the student. It is my job in a case like this, first and foremost, to call the parents in hopes that they will travel to campus. Miraculously, in this case, the student was still alive. After trying to reach the parents, I called the requisite people who need to know, including the head of the on-call team, and then updated the on-call team member who had informed me of the incident. He let me know that there were a lot of students in need of comforting in the residence halls, so I went to the ER to relieve him so that he could then address the needs of the students who witnessed the accident.
After an accident like this, the work of comforting friends and helping family members is extensive. One of the things I love about working at this college is exemplified by the response to this incident. Within a short period of time, the heads of housing, facilities, health services, psychological services, and many others are on the scene, comforting friends, providing refreshments, offering confidential sessions with psychologists, among other things. It is a community of people who care deeply about one another and try to anticipate one another’s needs.
Dozens of the injured student’s friends began to show up in the ER waiting room, so psychologists gathered there to offer support. When it became clear that there wouldn’t be any further information for hours, the students and university employees on the scene moved to a large room in the student center where food and drinks arrived and we could support students in whatever way they needed. Since this was final exam period, we worked with affected students on granting extensions and incompletes until 2:00 AM.
By the next morning, the student had been in surgery, the parents had been contacted and were on a flight to New York, we had secured a campus apartment for them, and we had lists of students who lived on the affected floors, lists of students in the extra-curricular groups in which our injured student is active, and lists of his instructors and the students in each of his classes. I had an emergency meeting with the advising staff to give them the most up-to-date information, and each of them proceeded to reach out to affected students offering help and comfort. We spent Tuesday for the most part on this follow-up.
On Wednesday morning, I held my leadership team meeting, as usual but postponed most of the content to talk about Monday’s incident and learn of any issues that had arisen. This team of managers is an absolute delight. They are smart, savvy, knowledgeable, experienced, caring, compassionate, dedicated, and never lose their senses of humor. I’m so fortunate to work with them.
The next thing on my agenda is a budget meeting, where I learn what the status of our annual budget and budget lines is. It doesn’t take long to get that update since our finance people are superb. I learn that we are on target with our spending in all categories.
Now I’ve set some time aside to complete the paperwork to hire a new director of the center. I complete some spreadsheets and call human resources to finalize the hiring date and salary. Now I can make the offer, which I do in short order. The applicant is so pleased. And so am I.
Next up is a meeting with a new football coach. Every adviser works with a particular athletics team. Three others and I are assigned to the football team since it numbers about 100 students. I know next to nothing about football, but the players have hearts of gold and I am very fond of each and every one of the players I have come to know. They have a tough road to hoe, given that they dedicate over 40 hours a week to their sport. Managing their schoolwork is challenging, so advisers try to stay in particularly close touch with them in the fall when they are traveling. It is also essential that each coach knows what advisers can do, what programs we can offer, and what kinds of information advisers need in order to serve each team well. Likewise, advisers must become familiar with the team practice schedules, travel needs, team culture, and the coaches’ preferences for contact and interaction with advisers. The coach and I discuss a number of these items, exchange contact information, and make a plan for follow up.
Only two more meetings to go today before I can attend to my emails and phone call. First is a brief check-in with the head of finance, HR, and IT where we talk about the explosion of requests for academic support in various subjects, staffing, and next year’s budget proposal. Next is a meeting with someone from our data group who is compiling data for us on academic probationary students.
It’s 5 PM and I’m finally back in my office. There are 254 emails and six phone messages waiting, so I begin the business of reviewing, prioritizing and responding. At 7:30 PM, I head home after learning that our injured student is in critical condition but doing better than anyone would have imagined.
* This is a fictional account