Collective strength: what does it look like?

Drake Blue talked to a cross section of faculty and staff to find out how the concept of collective strength — the power of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends working together toward a shared goal — plays out in their own areas.

 

Collective StrengthQ&As with Drake faculty and staff

Margie Davidson
Director, Student Records and Academic Information

Deneen Dygert
Associate Director, Admission

Jerry Foxhoven
Executive Director of the Neal & Bea Smith Legal Clinic
Director, Middleton Children’s Rights Center
Associate Professor of Law

Linda Krypel
Professor of Pharmacy Practice

Kathleen Richardson
Associate Professor of Journalism
Director, School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Tom Root
Associate Professor of Finance

 

Margie Davidson
Director, Student Records and Academic Information

Q. What are some things your office does that are vital to the University’s mission?

A. Student Records is central to the functioning of the University. We coordinate scheduling of classes, conduct registration each semester, collect and record grades, and, most important, provide academic transcripts for our students and alumni. We are not flashy — we’re rarely in the public eye, not on the tip of everyone’s tongue when they think of a university. But without the infrastructure and services we provide to students, the University could not function.

Q. If Drake were to succeed in getting faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends fully engaged around building its future, what would that look like in your area?

A. In our area it means keeping on top of technology, helping the University maintain its academic integrity and providing prompt and friendly customer service.

Q. Beyond dollars, what does collective strength mean to you, and why is it an important part of Drake reaching its full potential?

A. Drake is a collection of people — for some of us, more like a family. When we pull together, whether to solve a student problem, implement some University policy or design programs like summer orientation, for instance, the outcome is always more than any one of us could accomplish on our own. That is part of our collective strength.

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Deneen Dygert
Associate Director, Admission

Q. What are some things your office does that are vital to the mission of the University?

A. The Office of Admission continues to experience impressive numbers of applicants and visitors to campus. We aim to provide quality, personal service to all prospective students as they evaluate their college hopes and dreams.

Q. If Drake were to succeed in getting faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends fully engaged around building its future, what would that look like in your area?

A. Actually the Office of Admission enjoys very collaborative, supportive relationships across campus. Recruitment is a University-wide effort. It is evident every day how various members of the Drake community make recruitment a priority. We continually aim to engage our alumni in meaningful ways. Through training programs, college fairs, admission receptions and the National Alumni Scholarship program, alumni are present in the conversation with prospective students and parents.

Q. Beyond dollars, what does collective strength mean to you, and why is it an important part of Drake reaching its full potential?

A. We have seen impressive applicant numbers in the past few years, but in my mind collective strength would mean an increase in applicant interest that would allow us to be even more selective in choosing the best students for Drake. To be — and be recognized as — one of the best universities in the nation would mean that an unprecedented number of students would seek Drake annually as their first-choice college. That prestige would require us to alter our admission practices to ensure that we were admitting the students who are the best fit for our University.

Q. Part of Drake’s collective strength is the day-to-day support provided by alumni and friends of the University. How does such support make your job a little bit easier?

A. To attract the nation’s best students, scholarship funds are essential. An increase in the scholarship amounts and programs would allow us to be more competitive.

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Jerry Foxhoven
Executive Director of the Neal & Bea Smith Legal Clinic
Director, Middleton Children’s Rights Center
Associate Professor of Law

Q. What are some good things coming out of your department or academic area that are vital to the mission of the University? What are your aspirations for the future?

A. We’ve started a new clinic here to serve immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence. There’s been a real need in our community for that — there are a lot of people who are not documented, who have been victims of domestic violence and are afraid to report the crime. The perpetrator tells the victim that if she calls police, she’s going to be the one to get in trouble. What these women don’t know is that by working for their own safety and pursuing their abuser, they can get permanent status.

We have collaborations with other agencies that we work with for access to the Latina community — Asista and LUNA (Latinas Unitas Por un Nuevo Amanecer). These agencies serve as our point of entry for working with these women and have Spanish-speaking counselors. They have been able to work to provide for these women’s needs, but haven’t been able to provide legal services. We can do that.

We started [The Domestic Violence Immigration Clinic] in October, and actually provide representation for all of our clients’ legal needs including divorce, landlord/tenant issues, credit and immigration. This really addresses an unmet need in the community and aligns with Drake’s mission — it’s a strong community partnership, addresses global citizenship and promotes collaborative learning.

It’s been a great opportunity for our students. They are able to work with social workers, translators and others during the course of helping people. They’ve really enjoyed it. The clinic expands not only what we can offer to the community but the experiences we can bring to our students.

Q. If Drake were to succeed in getting faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends fully engaged around building its future, what would that look like in your area?

We are [heading in that direction], I think. Drake is well recognized in the legal community as a source of real practicing lawyers and judges; out of our five federal judges, only one is not a Drake grad. As long as I can remember, the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court has always been a Drake grad. Our mission has not been to create academic lawyers, but train practicing lawyers and judges who work in the field of law. That’s our niche. We do it well, and we’re recognized for it.

Q. Part of Drake’s collective strength is the day-to-day support provided by alumni and friends of the University. How does such support make your job a little bit easier?

At our clinics, many times clients are referred to us by lawyers in the community — largely alumni. They may meet with someone who they aren’t able to help, and tell them that there’s a place where they can get services where they won’t be charged.

We really engage many of our alumni. They give lectures to students, and we have students watch them work or intern for them. We do a lot of that. We take our first-year students to tour the capitol and talk to a broad lineup of legislators who are alumni from Drake. Students have the opportunity to work with prosecutors, judges, legislators, lobbyists — we involve our alumni to a large degree with the development of the next generation of lawyers.

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Linda Krypel
Professor of Pharmacy Practice

Q. What are some things your office does that are vital to the mission of the University?

A. Aside from the usual contributions such as teaching First Year Seminars and serving on committees, I think we are vital to the University. We have a nationally recognized program in pharmacy and a unique, successful health sciences program that is in demand, thereby helping keep [Drake's] enrollment numbers stable when other universities are losing students.

Another area is student research experiences. Both pharmacy and health sciences students are becoming more involved with projects. Improving our research facilities will increase these opportunities for developing students’ critical scientific thought processes while advancing the quest for new knowledge that benefits society.

Our college has also established numerous multidisciplinary collaborations with other health professions [through such entities] as Des Moines University as well as with many health professionals, either through our clinical faculty practice sites at hospitals, clinics or pharmacies, or our extensive list of clerkship/capstone sites that all of our students experience. The outreach of our faculty in these settings also shows the community the service provided by Drake and our commitment to improved health care. Learning takes place as a two-way street. Our students have hands-on experiences that hone their skills, while the sites benefit by having students and the college expose them to the latest in the field. Additionally, our experiential office is continually reporting from clerkship preceptors how impressive the Drake College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences students are, which reflects well on the University.

Q. What are some of the College of Pharmacy’s aspirations for the future?

A. First would be getting the rest of the University and the general population to understand what well-trained pharmacists can do to improve a patient’s medication therapy management.  Pharmacists must be seen as vital to the medical home model to ensure patients have the best and most cost-effective care. Our entrepreneurial focus in the college stresses new ways to think about problems both locally and globally.

Other aspirations for the future include strengthening instructional partnerships within and beyond Drake to enrich health professions education. This includes strengthening our global opportunities, especially for the health sciences students.

Q. If Drake were to succeed in getting faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends fully engaged around building its future, what would that look like in your area?

A. This would result in a shared, clear vision or what we are trying to accomplish through [the University’s] strategic plan. This might include a national forum on the future of pharmacy practice that brings together stakeholders to talk about the tough issues facing the profession and its role as a player in the overall health care picture.

Another is our dream of establishing a clinical research center within the College of Pharmacy. This would involve a director, participating researchers, lists of projects available and a database of alumni with expertise and interest in specific health care areas. This would create a true Drake research network to increase scholarship by faculty, continue to develop our profession and benefit society.

Building our future also entails faculty being nearer to each other. We are [currently] divided among four buildings on campus. A collective positive energy is easier to sustain when colleagues and administrators have better access to each other.

Q. Beyond dollars, what does collective strength mean to you, and why is it an important part of Drake reaching its full potential?

A. A university, just as a society, is defined as a sum of its parts. If one part is allowed to fail, everyone suffers. This includes all parts of our campus from the buildings and grounds, athletics, library, schools and colleges, student services, finance, and so forth all the way up to the provost and president. It goes back to the idea of strength in numbers.

My colleagues and I agree that as faculty members, the support we receive from one another in conducting research, developing teaching pedagogy and receiving encouragement to pursue new endeavors has allowed us to continue to develop as academicians.

Q. Part of our collective strength is the day-to-day support provided by alumni and friends of the University. How does such support make your job a little bit easier?

A. Providing faculty development dollars has been so beneficial in my development as an academician. I have been able to attend conferences both in my field and in various pedagogies.   Additionally, being allowed to take a sabbatical, I was able to complete several publications and develop my knowledge and skills in an important pedagogy for health care students (team-based learning). I would not have been able to squeeze out enough time to pursue the writing and new pedagogy without the sabbatical.

The remodeling of Harvey Ingham 104 has greatly enhanced students’ ability to collaborate and learn using different methods of teaching besides simply lecture. It is now a pleasure to spend my teaching hours in that classroom and students are excited to have a beautiful, highly functional room in which to learn.

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Kathleen Richardson
Associate Professor of Journalism
Director, School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Q. What are some things your office does that are vital to the mission of the University?

A. The SJMC faculty and students are doing such smart, fun, boundary-stretching things in their classes. I am constantly in awe of their creative energy.

Just one example this year from one major: The magazines students’ senior capstone class has [traditionally] created a print publication — a lifestyle magazine aimed at young people in the Des Moines area. They’ve won national awards for their work for years. This fall’s seniors decided to expand their vision to create an online-only magazine that captures the youth scene in several Midwestern cities. They called their magazine Urban Plains. They were able to showcase not only their writing, editing and design talents but also use the technology skills they learned in their Drake classes to create this rich, multimedia environment that includes music and video. It’s very cool. I’ve shown it to friends who are professional journalists, and they say that our students are modeling what the future of journalism and mass media should and can be.

Q. If Drake were to succeed in getting faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends fully engaged around building its future, what would that look like in your area?

A. One of the signature characteristics of the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication is our sense of community among faculty, staff, students and alumni. We are truly a community of professionals and scholars committed to graduating students who are the ethical, excellent communicators of the future. We have a very devoted, engaged group of alumni and friends who help us with everything from making financial gifts to visiting classes and critiquing student work.

However, keeping up with a rapidly changing profession is challenging. We need all the help we can get to make sure our curriculum is current, our technology is cutting edge and our students are prepared to be successful in whatever the world will throw at them. We have pressing needs for updated facilities, technology support and help for student travel to contests and conferences.

Q. Beyond dollars, what does collective strength mean to you, and why is it an important part of Drake reaching its full potential?

A. Well, they say that it takes a village to raise a child, and that philosophy is especially embraced by the SJMC. We pride ourselves on the fact that our students meld their professional communications education with a strong base in the liberal arts. Many of our students also take classes in the College of Business and Public Administration as well. In addition, our alumni tell us that some of their most valuable experiences at Drake were their involvement with extracurricular activities: campus media, student government, etc. To be truly prepared to be a successful, reflective professional and an engaged citizen, our students must have a well-rounded education, and that means that all of us who work at Drake must be on the same page as we work toward those goals. And I think we are. We’re a great team.

Q. Any other thoughts on what being part of a collaborative system means to you?

A. I’ve had an interesting perspective of late on what we do here. In the SJMC, we’ve been going through our reaccreditation process — having to collect documentation about the successes of our students has convinced me even more of the value of a Drake education. At the same time, my youngest son is a high school senior who is looking at colleges. We live in the Drake neighborhood, and ideally I’d like him to go a little farther away for college. We’ve been in the curious position of trying to find a college that is “like Drake” but isn’t Drake. Finally, my husband, who is also an SJMC alum, said, “Isn’t this crazy? Why doesn’t he just go to Drake?” Honestly, I think we do a heck of a job here.

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Tom Root
Associate Professor of Finance

Q. What are some good things coming out of your department or academic area that are vital to the mission of the University? What are your aspirations for the future?

A. We’ve taken some significant steps in the area of global citizenship. Uganda is just one example. [Students in the course Sustainable Development in Uganda spend three weeks in the country over the summer.] The course brings students much more awareness of the world and our place in it — especially as our environment grows more global, with more interactions across boundaries. The Uganda visit allows Drake students to collaborate with students at an institution in Africa. They all have the same goals and aspirations, yet the economy in Uganda is totally different. It opens up this idea of communication across those boundaries and gives students a much broader perspective on everything.

We have other international opportunities, too. We took our MBA students on a tour of business in Europe last spring. Students traveled to London; Paris; Clermont-Ferrand, France; and Geneva, Switzerland. They visited the London Metal Exchange and got to experience live trading, talked to the United Nations in Geneva where they spent the day with an economist, traveled to London to learn about global strategy and responsibility, visited the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in France] for rounds of trade talks, and met with students at our sister institution in Clermont-Ferrand. They spent time seeing the city, dining together and networking. We talked about supply chains in Paris — we walked through the market at 4 a.m., when everything from fish to flowers is flown in, to see how the daily market functions.

Professional development is also very important. We offer seminars on different topics such as media relations, behavioral finance or the mortgage crisis. These are topics that aren’t easy to fit into the regular lesson plan but are important to bring insight on how the world works.

Our students also have meaningful personal lives. I’ve been impressed with how student groups, on their own, take on community projects. The Students in Free Enterprise has taken on many projects, such as helping bring financial literacy into the high schools. And I’ve seen our student groups take on more community involvement and, in doing so, take more ownership of their own learning experience.

That’s just a small snapshot of some of the things our students are experiencing.

Q. If Drake were to succeed in getting faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends fully engaged around building our future, what would that look like in your area?

A. I really think we’re making steps in that direction. I’d like to see students taking more ownership of their learning. I’ll go into a class and talk about interest rate theory, but it’s hard to get 19-year-old student who hasn’t had any experience with financial markets to see why it’s useful. Then that same student might have an internship that summer and return and say, “Hey, we used all of that stuff you taught us in class, and this is how it worked and this is how it relates to this other thing.” It’s really neat to see that learning integrated on a cocurricular level.

Full engagement means seeing them get excited, to see that bigger picture of the world and how their education fits into it. It means having students who are actively, dynamically engaged in helping paint some of the picture of what they see for themselves in the future. This is opposed to the old model of relying on the brilliance of the professor — thinking that if you just sit in the classroom and listen you’ll learn something. That’s just not something that’s going to work anymore.

We’re engaging with the community and partnering with local businesses. I’d like to do more of this and have some business partners in the classroom to talk about, say, interest rate theory and why it’s important, and then have the students work on a real-world exercise and give a problem-centered approach.

CBPA focuses on five areas of promise. That link to the real world is a big part of what we do and is a big part of how we’re approaching the goals of the Drake vision.

Q. Beyond dollars, what does collective strength mean to you, and why is it an important part of Drake reaching its full potential?

A. The CBPA mission and the Drake vision help give us an idea of where we want to go. When you talk about collaborative learning, it means all of us rowing the boat in the same direction. Collective strength means creating a very dynamic environment that’s respectful of different ideas but with a common goal of furthering the experience of our learners.

Q. Part of Drake’s collective strength is the day-to-day support provided by alumni and friends of the University. How does such support make your job a little bit easier?

A. The Pappajohn Entrepreneurship Center is a great example — it’s a fabulous addition to the college and lets us accomplish things we may not have been able to do otherwise. It’s other things, too, like the Bloomberg terminal we have in the college, the kind that’s used on Wall Street. One of our alumni was instrumental in planning that. These kinds of resources help bridge that gap between the world and academic goals to enrich the experience of students.

Some of the most valuable contributions are not financial. It’s things like people coming to talk to a class. I’ve got a person coming from Wells Fargo to talk to our students about financial regulation. He’s chief counsel for an organization and has spent time in Washington — giving students access to that kind of experience is huge.

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— Jill Brimeyer

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