Bruce Springsteen watches over Kathleen Richardson. Peering out from a framed poster above her desk in Meredith Hall, The Boss is surrounded by ticket stubs from his concerts that she has attended.
Richardson, director of Drake’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, was introduced to Springsteen’s music during her time as a Drake undergrad.
“I think I came to love Bruce Springsteen and the journalism school in tandem,” Richardson says.
For Richardson, The Boss represents more than popular music — his songs include the type of storytelling that she says is essential to journalism. She feels the connection so deeply, she says, that one of his songs, “Badlands,” should be the SJMC theme song.
“He writes about real people and real life experiences,” Richardson says, adding that the same stories appeal to journalists. “We embrace life in all its messiness, tragedies and joys. We hold up a mirror to this reality for our readers and our viewers.”
Richardson’s dedication to journalism seems to mesh with her passion for Springsteen, strengthening a life dedicated to her craft. For others at Drake, their extracurricular hobbies, commitments and obsessions can complement or balance their work lives. It’s these individuals and their myriad interests that make Drake a unique environment for fostering passion and contributing to extraordinary student growth.
“We all pulse in different ways, but we’re most effective between periods of rest and renewal and periods of high productivity,” says Venessa Macro, Drake’s director of human resources. “If you’re not balanced, you aren’t in that cycle.”
Work-life balance has been a popular topic for faculty and staff this year, thanks in part to both a campus-wide read of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working and a comprehensive survey initiated by President David Maxwell and Vice President of Business and Finance Vicky Payseur. Macro, who helped conduct and interpret the survey, says outside interests contribute to effectiveness on the job.
“When people are engaged and passionate about something while not at work, they can bring that passion and engagement to work because they’re fulfilled personally,” she says.
When the clock strikes 6 a.m., Ed Bell’s shoes hit the pavement. Bell, a pediatric pharmacist and professor of pharmacy practice, is an avid runner. Before work Bell will have tracked between six and eight miles, depending on the day. His running, he says, keeps him energized and disciplined during his days working with patients and Drake pharmacy students.
“Once I have a run, I’m ready to face the day,” he says. “If I have a good workout, I feel good all day, and I’m more productive.”
Bell’s experience with exercise is extensive: in addition to nine completed marathons, Bell runs up to a dozen shorter races each year totaling hundreds of miles.
“Running takes hard work, and I try to train hard all year long,” he says. “I tell myself that if I want to have results, I’ve got to put some effort into it.”
While Bell works for endurance, Nan Strutzenberg, development events coordinator for the office of alumni and development, puts in earplugs and shudders in her seat as monsters pass at more than 200 miles per hour.
A long-time racing fan, Strutzenberg’s face lights up as she describes the thundering tremor of the pack rushing past and the sensation of picking bits of tire from her skin.
Her passion for racing began as she listened to radio broadcasts of the Indy 500 with her dad while working on the family car. Later, when the race was televised, the whole family gathered to watch.
Today, both the Indy 500 and the Iowa Corn Indy 250 (held on the Iowa Speedway in Newton) are Strutzenberg family traditions.
“After my dad passed away, it’s how I still felt connected to him,” she says. “When they started doing the IndyCorn 250, we started going as a family. Everyone got hooked, and it’s the one time when we all get together.”
For many like Strutzenberg, family is the top priority. For her, Indy is a way to maintain the family connection and have a lot of fun.
“Do I love my job? Absolutely: I have the best job in the world,” she says. “But I also have the best family in the world.”
To talk about your passions and how they mesh with work, visit the Drake University Facebook page.