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Dean, Student Trade Places in Annual Role Reversal

Dean for a Day Courtney Ross and Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Jeff Braden
Dean for a Day Courtney Ross, left, and Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Jeff Braden pose for a photo after trading places for a day on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016.

Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Jeff Braden and student Courtney Ross swapped schedules this week as part of the college’s seventh annual Dean for a Day role reversal.  

On Tuesday, Braden assumed Ross’ duties as a senior communication and political science double major. In addition to attending her classes, Braden also filled in for Ross at a Kappa Alpha Theta fraternity meeting and worked a shift at the Boys and Girls Club, where Ross is an event and marketing intern.

“Once again, I’m reminded about how wonderful it is to be a student and how impressive our students and faculty are,” Braden said. “Their passion, curiosity, and knowledge is truly inspiring.”

On the flip side, Ross took on the dean’s responsibilities. During meetings with faculty and staff, she added insights on upcoming study abroad opportunities, departmental programming and a new TH!NK initiative designed to cultivate students’ higher-order skills in critical and creative thinking. Ross also met with development staff and the president of the college’s advisory board, Kathy Council.

“I cannot speak highly enough of the faculty and staff that run the college behind the scenes, so we students can focus on classes and extracurriculars,” Ross reflected. “I loved being able to experience this side of the college and NC State on a different level, and have a renewed appreciation for being a student. It was a wonderful experience, and I encourage other students to apply next year for this unique opportunity!”

Braden and Ross blogged about trading places throughout the experience. Take a look at what they had to say:

Dean for a Day 2016-Braden’s Blog

Monday, Jan. 26

Dean Jeff Braden
Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Jeff Braden comments during COM 250 (Communication and Technology), with professor Nick Taylor.

6 p.m. Kappa Alpha Theta’s Scholarship Committee Meeting

Before we get started, I see a composite photo of KAT members. I am amazed to see every member is a light skinned female. I ask about the absence of black faces in the membership; clearly, it’s a challenging subject. Greek life seems to be one of the few places in the academy where homogeneity of gender and ethnicity is still common. The members quickly point out that it’s not by policy; all the organizations are open to members of all ethnic backgrounds. Rather, it appears to be primarily a function of tradition. Greek chapters, especially those serving minorities, were founded at a time when there were formal restrictions on membership. Therefore, they developed traditions and identities to provide members a safe space, and generally continue to sustain them (e.g., some Greek organizations are composed mostly (or entirely) of African Americans, whereas others are mostly (or entirely) white). It is really determined by the goals and comfort of the pledges; it is certainly not a policy issue at this time in history. Still, I marvel how striking it is to see a homogeneous group. It makes me realize that was the way I grew up, but my experience over the last decade or more has made it so that such homogeneity is a rare (indeed, unique) thing.

The Scholarship Committee reads its goals: to improve and enhance the scholarship (grades) of all of its members.

I learn that a spreadsheet given to the chapter includes every individual member’s GPA and the aggregate GPA for all other Greek chapters on campus. Clearly KAT is interested in being competitive with their aggregate GPA without unduly pressuring individual members. They discuss ways to raise members’ academic performance, including giving participation points for accomplishments (e.g., an A on a major paper or test) and activities (e.g., showing up for a study hall a given number of times); and encouraging mentors and mentees to meet regularly around study.

Tuesday, Jan. 27

6:30 a.m.-Wake up

I set my alarm for 8:40 a.m. per Dean Ross’ instructions … But since I haven’t been able to sleep past 8 a.m. in decades, I’m not surprised my eyes open at 6:30. I am up, and head to the gym.

10:15-11:30 a.m.-PS 203: Intro to Nonprofits with Melanie Riester

I am surprised to be told that technology is not allowed in class. The instructor waives the rule for me, but tells me that she has banned technology because it distracts not only the student using it but others as well.

Today we’re talking about nonprofit theory and specifically non-economic theories. They include the theory of the commons, which assumes individuals come together over shared values, not for individualistic transaction/benefit. There’s also pluralism, that’s based on competing values. Another is mediating structures, which focuses on how organizations bridge the gap between individuals and megastructures such as the government and corporations.

Noon-1 p.m.-Boys and Girls Club in Raleigh

I meet and get a tour of the club where I serve as a marketing and communications intern with my supervisor, Tristyn Card.

She proudly shows me the music studio, salon, and food preparation facilities, as well as the more customary gym, recreational, and study spaces.

I work on a press release for Appetite for Art, a gala event and silent art auction that’s held every year to raise money for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County. It is interesting to write a press release, not least because I’ve never done so — although my wife does them all the time! Fortunately, I have an example from an earlier release, which I try to make my own through some editorial and stylistic changes.

Before I know it, I’m already late, and rush across town to get back to campus and my next class.

1:30-4:15 p.m.-COM 250: Communication and Technology with Nick Taylor

As a result of leaving the Boys and Girls Club late, I arrive in class just as Dr. Taylor is picking up quizzes he’s given the class on the day’s readings. I sure hope I haven’t gotten Courtney in trouble!

Last week’s class focused on symbols and signs (pictographs become hieroglyphs and cuneiforms become alphabets) and how increasing abstraction of sign systems increases the complexity of our societies. This week: Rise of the Machines! We discuss key aspects of the print revolution and ponder questions such as: “What does it mean to be a writer?” and “How does the medium of writing change writing practices, audiences and identities?”

4:30 p.m.-Dean’s office for debriefing

Dean Courtney Ross and I meet in her office to debrief from a day of trading places. We meet with Technician reporter Ashleigh Polisky, who is writing a story about our experience for the newspaper.

Dean for a Day 2016-Ross’ Blog

Dean for a Day Courtney Ross
Dean for a Day Courtney Ross talks with Blair Kelley, assistant dean for interdisciplinary studies and international affairs, during a meeting about an upcoming Jefferson Scholars study abroad trip.

Tuesday, Jan. 27

8 a.m.-Arrive on campus

I was very thankful for the Dean’s parking spot this morning right across from the office. This job definitely has some perks!

8:15 a.m.-Administrative meeting

I was surprised with Bruegger’s this morning! My staff and I enjoyed coffee and bagels before heading into our administrative team meeting. Everyone introduced themselves.They were so welcoming; I think I could get used to this!

9:47 a.m.-Jefferson Scholars program update

So far I’ve met with my administrative team to discuss pressing issues within the college, and with the staff that run the Jefferson Scholars program. Both meetings were incredibly informative. The scholars this year will be traveling to Vienna and Prague as part of their program, and they will definitely be busy.

10:34 a.m.-Meeting with Trace Reid, head of the Department of Political Science

My meeting with Dr. Reid went well! We discussed how enrollment in in-person summer classes has been on the decline, and came up with some solutions and alternatives that may boost summer enrollment. We also talked about the importance of getting to know your professors and ways to improve relations with students. I wish I had received this tip earlier in my college career. Definitely get to know your professors outside of the classroom setting; it will help during the semester but also in your future plans!

11 a.m.-Break/Catch up on emails

My first break of the day to catch up on the blog and emails! It’s amazing how fast they pile up when you’re in meetings …

11:14 a.m.-Reflecting on the day so far

I’m looking forward to lunch at the State Club with Kathy Council and Brandi Orbin! I’ve never been there so I’m excited to see the space. The first half of my day has been so exciting so far. It’s incredible to see this side of the college that as a student I had no prior knowledge of. It’s easy to forget that colleges are businesses too and have to be run by someone. As a student in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, it’s a relief to know that the staff does such a spectacular job that as students we can just focus on classes and extracurriculars. I’m really looking forward to the rest of my meetings today.

12:52 p.m.-Meeting with Kathy Council and Brandi Orbin

I had a wonderful lunch with Kathy Council, president of the Advisory Board and Brandi Orbin, associate director of development, at the State Club on Centennial Campus (which is now open to all faculty, staff, and students by the way — definitely check it out when you have some time!). We talked about what Brandi does involving development and what goes into raising funds for students to have the opportunity to participate in programs like study abroad, which are invaluable to rounding out a student’s college career. It was great to hear from two inspirational women whodo so much for the college.

2 p.m.-TH!NK initiative planning
I met with the faculty and staff involved in the TH!NK initiative for an hour to discuss the vertical integration of the initiative not only for freshman classes, but upper-level junior and senior classes as well. As a communication major in the interpersonal, organizational, and rhetorical communication concentration, a lot of the classes I’ve taken to meet my degree requirements have elements of the TH!NK initiative already present in the curriculum. Critical thinking is such an invaluable skill in today’s job market, and I hope to be able to come back as an alumna and see this program succeed.

2:45 p.m.-Meeting with Ken Zagacki, head of the Department of Communication

Dr.  Zagacki and I talked about the department as a whole, and really what his role is in the department. He also provided some very sound advice to a senior about to graduate on how to succeed in the workplace, and how to differentiate yourself among competitors based on your experiences. Cherish whatever time you have left at NC State; it’s cliche, but it really does fly by!

4:43 p.m.-Faculty Senate meeting

My last duty of the day as dean of the college of Humanities and Social Sciences was to attend the Faculty Senate meeting in D.H. Hill Library. A main point discussed was the results of the 2015 Faculty Satisfaction Survey. It was interesting to hear from faculty members in different disciplines and see how the Senate meeting was run!

5:21 p.m.-Debrief

Student Braden and I sat down with Ashleigh Polisky from the Technician to wrap up our days and reflect on what we enjoyed and what surprised us most.