A Poem

So I haven’t blogged in like a year; don’t judge.

Yesterday was our first ever SAAHE Program Pinning Ceremony at Ball State. It was very cool. I was asked to give some words on behalf of the faculty. Decided not to wing it and wrote something to read verbatim: a poem. Here is it.

So here we are.

We’ve gathered from near; we’ve gathered from far.

And the main message I’d like to get through

Is we, the faculty, are very proud of all of you.

You’ve written tens or hundreds of thousands of words this year.

You’ve written professionally, passionately, and often times without fear.

You’ve spent time in meaningful ruminations.

And you’ve gazed into the skies of higher education while identifying possible constellations.

Some of you will take your most potently palpable scholarship to the next level.

And when you do you’ll cause others’ minds to slide off the bevel.

They’ll think in ways they haven’t thought before—not ever.

Because when you walk away from this program, you’re all at least a little bit more clever.

You’ve also given your share of presentations,

While mastering the oddly inane yet important art and science of proper APA citations.

Programs and planning and meetings and homework and deadlines and students who have been arrested.

Never before have your time management skills been so tested.

And perhaps never before this moment have you ever felt so weary and unrested.

But let us think fondly upon some of the memories of the year.

It feels like August was yesterday, and all those moments seem so near.

Vectors, stages, developmental atom-like figurines.

I think I think I know what Marcia Baxter-Magolda means.

The Student Personnel Point of View.

It was written twice; it was written through and through.


With which organizations will I stay?

How would it feel to be May Sarton and conjure up our muses?

I’m thinking after the org. chart presentation there might be bruises.

What is a vignette, and what does pedagogical mean anyway?

I never thought I could accomplish so much in just a single day!

You’ve done a lot throughout the course of your Ball State tenure.

You achieved great things, you worked with students, and you had to endure.


But it’s that mid-April time of year.

And commencement is drawing very near.

To commence means to begin.

And right now that meaning is much to my shagrin.

Because before you begin, I want you to live and be and sit in this and these coming moments in time.

I need you to recognize the power of your accomplishments, these relationships—as they are genuinely sublime.

I want you to know that we are the faculty, but in so many ways, you are the teachers. You teach us.

When you walk into our classes, it is you who are often times driving the bus.

You need to know how much we enjoy working with you.

You breathe life into us. Through you, we imagine our practice, our craft, and our influence anew.

Simply, you matter very deeply to us; you are the bringers of motivation.

Let’s be candid though, sometimes it comes with a little consternation.

We, your faculty, are scholars, writers, practitioners, administrators, and thinkers.

We’re curious, thoughtful, impassioned—and Tinto, Astin, Ellis, hooks, Lareau, Bolman, Deal, and Zamani Gallaher fill our minds with tinkers.

There’s something you ought to consider, as I think it’s true.

There’s a budding scholar inside each and every one of you.

I believe there are things that only each one of us can do.

So what exactly does that mean for you?

Practice without theory is without clout.

Theory without action is not at all what we’re about.

Find the most potent bursts of intersections between the two—make that your professional praxis.

Soon you’ll be spinning your work with students around some kind of axis.

So make it a good one, and remember what you’ve learned.

Build your axis everyday, and even when you’re burned

Use the heat to forge forward even stronger.

And I will wrap it up shortly now, I shouldn’t speak any longer.


But let me end with one story, it will help me summarize.

Many times with questions, people look into my eyes.

They ask me, often, what is it that I teach.

The answer is hard, and I always start with well…but the answer seems out of reach.

I teach classes about college, it’s really quite meta.

All the while knowing I could be explaining it better.

Then I move toward my old stand by.

I explain my privilege; my eyes never lie.

I work with graduate students—you and you and you.

It’s a joy everyday, and that is so true.

We work with the best, and you are the proof.

I am so happy for all of you today, I feel like a room without a roof.


Your faculty work with people who will literally change the world.

When I think about the weight of that statement, my mind becomes swirled.

We acknowledge and celebrate your academic achievements today.

And here’s the last thing I’ll say.

No one can take your Master’s degree away.

Cheers and congratulations to you all. Today is YOUR day.


Thank you.


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