Friday, July 23, 2010

Students Who Will Succeed -- First and Lasting Impressions

Yesterday, I met with a group of my doctoral students at the Isenberg School of Management. I wanted to make sure that I gave them proper directions on their research while I was away at conferences in Europe.

As I came up to my office there was a student, who had recently defended his PhD dissertation successfully, and wanted to say good-bye to me. He greeted me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in appreciation (featured above). I was very touched that he would take the time to do this and to leave a "last" lasting impression. Now, as a "Dr." he will, in a few days, be starting his excellent position in statistical and economic consulting with a major consulting firm in Washington DC. Although I was not on his dissertation committee, as Area Coordinator of the Management Science track of our PhD program, I spend a lot of time helping to recruit doctoral students, who come from around the world, and in making sure that they are comfortable and succeed upon matriculation.

This latest successful PhD to graduate from our program is from Europe. He finished his PhD in 4 years, despite the untimely death of his original dissertation advisor last December. In his most recent email message to me, he said: Thank you for all your support throughout my doctoral studies. If not our phone interview and your invaluable guidance four years ago, I don't think I would be in the program at all. Thank you!

Wouldn't the world be a better place, if people took the time to say hello to their colleagues and co-workers, if bosses treated their employees with respect and kindness, and if we all supported one another and celebrated the successes of our students, staff, faculty, and even administrators?!

Manners go a long way and kind words can make any day, even a difficult one, truly special.

The above student will continue to succeed because of his thoughtfulness and courtesy.

Coincidentally, yesterday, I also received a message from a new doctoral student who will soon be traveling thousands of miles to begin her studies in our PhD program. In her message she wrote:

Cannot wait to see you now! My hometown ... is a very beautiful city. Have you heard of it before? Is there something (food, for example) you like very much in ... ? I can bring some for you. Also, if you cannot decide which one you like most, I will pick something very interesting by myself as special gift for you :). Thanks again for the help and concern from you ....

The circle of academic life is very special.

As a community, though, we need to regularly celebrate the achievements and milestones of all involved and, at the very least, to extend our congratulations to students who get into our programs, who make good progress, sometimes, under challenging circumstances, and who, ultimately, earn their degrees and get terrific jobs.