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Craig's Blog
September 2015

Dear faculty and staff:

I would like to share some good news. But first you’ll need a little background.

As some of you know, some years ago the Higher Learning Commission created a new accreditation track called the Open Pathway. In this track, which is by invitation only, institutions choose a “Quality Project” that they plan, implement, and assess during the final 4-5 years of the 10-year accreditation cycle. Institutions are encouraged to choose a quality-improvement process, in any area of the institution they wish, that will significantly improve the quality of students’ experience. The HLC then reviews the results of this project as part of the 10-year comprehensive visit.

We were invited to join the Open Pathway track, which is designed for more mature institutions, and we accepted. Over the course of last year we discussed a number of possibilities for our Quality Project. After participating in the HLC annual conference last March, I recommended that we focus on assessment for our Quality Project. I also recommended that we enroll in the HLC’s Assessment Academy, a 4-year program the HLC created about six years ago to help colleges and universities strengthen their academic assessment processes. Everyone agreed, and we applied to the Assessment Academy this past summer.

The good news is . . .

. . . that our application was accepted. 

Moreover, Jane Schmidt-Wilk (Dean of Teaching and Learning) and Chris Jones (Dean of Academic Programs) and I participated in the Academy’s first event, a day-long orientation entitled “Information and Planning Workshop,” held on September 2 in downtown Chicago.

Ten other colleges and universities applied to this fall’s Assessment Academy and sent representatives to this workshop. These other schools include Southwest Minnesota State University, Adler Graduate School (Minnesota), Kettering College (Ohio), Hocking College (Ohio), two tribal colleges, and a variety of others. From the “it’s a small world department," one of the participants was born in Fairfield and his father had taught at Parsons College and served for a year as interim president in the 1950s. (A PhD in geology who taught at Iowa State, he is currently the director of institutional research at the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development in Santa Fe . . . reflecting the diversity in higher education that America is famous for).

What is assessment?
“Assessment” is short-hand for an evidence-based process of continuous improvement of student learning. 

HLC has put forth a list of “Criteria for Accreditation" that all colleges and universities must meet for continuing accreditation. But the core expectation is a commitment to continuously improving student learning, reflected in processes and policies that pervade the curriculum at every level — reflected, in other words, in a “culture of assessment.”

The basic components of the process are these:

  • determine the knowledge and skills we want students to gain (the “student learning outcomes”)
  • determine the objective measures we will use to assess whether students have gained the knowledge and skills
  • design a curriculum and take students through it
  • measure the extent to which students have mastered the learning outcomes
  • based on the findings from this process, improve the curriculum
  • repeat this process

While this seems simple and straightforward enough, there are many challenges involved in doing it well. Our participation in the assessment academy will help us learn to do it well and to place student learning at the center of the whole process. In fact, we plan to promote many of the initiatives we have already been developing within the context of this broad project — e.g, the Senior Project Program, creative and critical thinking across the curriculum, academic efficiency, and articulating our learning outcomes. 

What is the Assessment Academy?
HLC launched the Assessment Academy in 2006, and since then more than 100 colleges and universities have completed it, and a large number of institutions are currently participating (HLC admits two cohorts each year, fall and spring). Here is how the HLC describes it:

The Assessment Academy is tailored for institutions interested in developing an ongoing commitment to assessing and improving student learning. The Assessment Academy offers each institution personalized guidance in gathering the necessary information and data to survey student learning outcomes, determining goals that should be set for their institution regarding those outcomes, and developing and implementing strategies to achieve those goals.

The Assessment Academy provides institutions with new ideas and techniques for influencing institutional culture, improving the assessment of student learning, and increasing institutional capacity to complete those assessments. Institutions develop a process to regularly test and document effective practices in assessing and improving student learning.

Who guides us?
Two experts in assessment, assigned by HLC, will guide us during this four-year program, a “Mentor” and a “Senior Scholar.” The Mentor works with about four schools at once. The Senior Scholar oversees the work of several Mentors and also works directly with the schools as needed.

These two experts, both of them women, led the Information and Planning Workshop last week. They were very impressive. Both have had many years of experience in higher education teaching and administration, with special focus on assessment, and have worked with many schools. They know the challenges, they understand the pitfalls, and they know what works and what doesn’t work. They take obvious joy in their work and are fun to be with. Their guidance will be invaluable. 

In addition, we will be expected to work with other schools in our Fall 2015 cohort, sharing experiences and best practices.

HLC maintains an online archive of all the reports from all the colleges and universities who have gone through the Assessment Academy or are currently participating in it, which we soon will have access to. This is a treasure of knowledge and experience that we can benefit from.

What’s next?
The next Assessment Academy event will be the “Assessment Academy Roundtable,” a three-day event in October (14–16) in Chicago (actually, the western suburbs this time), during which we will be guided in preparing the specific assessment project we will work on over the next four years.

For this we have assembled an assessment project team. We assembled the final team based on our desire to create a balance of experience, gender, expertise, and content background among those who have a high interest and available time. The final team includes:

  • Craig Pearson
  • Jane Schmidt-Wilk
  • Chris Jones
  • Paula Armstrong
  • Sue Brown
  • Amine Kouider
  • Isabelle Matzkin
  • Michael Zijlstra

 Going forward, we will need to submit progress reports every six months, in addition to several other meetings with our other cohort members during the 4-year period and interactions with our Mentor.

We are impressed that HLC, in addition to its monitoring function, has created such a well-thought-through program for assisting schools in creating a self-sustaining culture of assessment. The timing is also perfect for us. The four-year program will bring us right to the close of our 10-year accreditation cycle. The final report we submit to the Assessment Academy will automatically be submitted as part of the process of accreditation at that time, and our 10-year comprehensive visit will come in the spring of 2020.

If anyone has any questions about this, please let me know.

Thank you to all of you,


Latest News from December 2014


Leadership changes across the University

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

We have made many changes in the University leadership in the last couple of months. Many of you know about some of these, but not all of you know about all of them.

As I put this together, it struck me again, for about the millionth time, how fortunate we are to have the people we have — and to live and work in a place that attracts such extraordinary people. 

The changes are numerous enough that I thought a table of contents would be helpful:

BRAD MYLETT — New Director of Major Gifts

After serving the last five years as Dean of Admissions, Brad has now moved to the University Development office to work as Director of Major Gifts.

Brad has had a long career at MUM — nearly 40 years — with an amazing breadth of service.

He arrived here in 1976, working on staff in Physical Plant. Then he became a student, graduating in 1982 with a BA in western philosophy. He worked as assistant to President Morris for 8 years, as Chief Administrative Officer for a year, as Director of Admissions for 9 years (an earlier stint), as Director of Special Projects for 3 years, and more.

He has also instructed over 700 people in the Transcendental Meditation technique, served as the Transcendental Meditation Center chair in Seattle and Longview, Washington, has lectured and taught the Transcendental Meditation Program and Science of Creative Intelligence in over 10 countries, including Russia, China, Ukraine, India, and the Philippines. He helped organize the Taste of Utopia Assembly in 1983-84 and the Group for a Government Assembly in 1992.

Brad’s passion for the University is unsurpassed, and his ability to connect with people and inspire them is legendary. These qualities make him the perfect addition to our fundraising engine, especially for building our endowment.

GWEN STOWE — New Dean of Admissions

Gwen began working at MUM in January 2013 as a US Admissions counselor, after graduating from Middlebury College in Vermont. “I immediately felt at home in the department,” she says.

Five months later, she became Director of US Admissions, a position she held until this transition. She is working with Aster Hesse as a fellow Dean of Admissions.

“It feels like a natural transition for me to take on this new leadership role as dean,” Gwen says. “I’m honored by this opportunity to serve the university in a greater capacity, and look forward to working with my fellow dean Aster to achieve progress in many areas for the Admissions Department.”

Gwen is the daughter of Dr. Robert Stowe and Rosalind Stowe, both Governors of the Age of Enlightenment. Robert is the executive director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Gwen is also the granddaughter of Dr. Harvey Brooks, the noted physicist, Harvard Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and advisor to three US Presidents. And she is the niece of Raja Kingsley Brooks.

ASTER HESSE — New Dean of Admissions

Aster was an undergraduate student at MUM in the 1990s and studied as an Associate of Arts student in the Music department. She graduated with a BA in 2000 and worked in Accounts Payable and Dome Security.

Before returning to MUM in 2009 to start her MA in the Maharishi Vedic Science internship program, she worked for Maharishi Open University in Boone, North Carolina; helped to run the Mother Divine academy in Heibloem, Holland; and completed Maharishi Teacher Training in Bulgaria with a large group of people working for MERU in Vlodrop at that time.

“I've enjoyed working in Admissions for five years now,” Aster says. “It's been wonderful working with Brad and everybody in the department. It's so satisfying to meet all the new students when they arrive on campus twice a year. After graduating with my MA last year I am ready to take on more responsibility. It's really exciting to start this new position and work towards continued growth for our university.”

Aster is a member of the illustrious Hesse family.

JAMES & LINDA BEDINGER — Outgoing Directors of Campus Safety and Security

President Morris once called James Bedinger a gift from God. James, working closely with his wife Linda, has been our Campus Safety and Security Director for as long as most of us can remember.

James served in the US Army in Germany, training under Col. Gerard Shirer (Pentagon Security) and worked security details for Queen Elizabeth’s entourage, the Kennedy-Shriver family, and ambassadors and other dignitaries. He later worked as security supervisor at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He also attended Longy School of Music of Bard College, in Cambridge, where he studied violin.

He came to MUM in 1978, making him one of our longest-serving staff members. He began in the Housing Office, worked for several years as a PBX (telephone) operator, and trained as an EEG technician to measure brain-wave coherence for faculty, students, and staff for the Maharishi Educational Index project.

Then he moved to Physical Plant, where he worked as Fire Safety Director for three years. For the next 11 years he served as assistant director of Physical Plant, and the next 10 years as the director, continuing to oversee Campus Safety and Security.

He established a security department and a complete safety program for the University, following OSHA, EPA, and Civil Defense standards. He served as Facilities Management director, helped build the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome, and prepared for the demolition of 46 buildings on campus.

He has supervised safety and security for visiting dignitaries and guests on campus and in Maharishi Vedic City as well as security for large groups at four campuses in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

James has served as an officer of the Fairfield Area Safety Council, officer of the Hawkeye State Fire Prevention Association, and as a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators.

A teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program, James traveled to the Philippines in 1984, where he taught the TM technique to inmates in Filipino prisons.

James is pictured above demonstrating that campus safety and security begins from the field of the transcendent.

Linda Bedinger
Before coming to MUM Linda worked as an executive secretary in social services and law offices in Pennsylvania and Maine. She began the Transcendental Meditation technique in Portland, Maine, and worked as assistant to Susan Gore and George Ellis for the Vermont TM Prison Project, traveling to six prisons in Vermont with the team. Linda attended the CIC flying block in 1983–84 at the Taste of Utopia Assembly in Fairfield.

Then she moved to Fairfield, briefly working as a legal secretary before joining MUM staff in 1986. She started as the Campus Security receptionist and became Co-Director of Campus Safety in 2005, where she has worked ever since.

Like James, she is a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program. 

ALWIN HESSE — New Dean of Men

Alwin had extensive experience in Holland before coming to Maharishi University of Management.

Together with his brother Manyu and sister Aster, Alwin was a part of the Dutch faculty team for Maharishi Open University (MOU) in the 1990s, doing everything except standing in front of the camera.

Alwin also worked for the Mother Divine program in Heibloem, Holland, and then in Vlodrop with Girish Momaya, one of Maharishi's secretaries.  

Alwin, Aster, and Manyu completed Teacher Training in Bulgaria. He and Manyu taught full-time in Amsterdam with Bernard Markus, and then worked in the Ukraine for 6 months, where he met his future wife, Amellia. 

When MOU moved to Heavenly Mountain in North Carolina, moved with it and added video technician to his skills.

Alwin returned to Fairfield in 2010 and began the intern program, enrolling in the MA in Maharishi Vedic Science and working for Admissions before becoming Dean of Men.

CHRIS TAFT — New Co-Director of Campus Safety and Security

Chris is exactly the person you would want to have with you if you find yourself in a tough spot: he is the owner of multiple US national Tae Kwon Do championships. He started studying martial arts in his teens and continued into his early 20s, competing in martial arts tournaments at a professional level, becoming a Tae Kwon Do master, a national champion, and a National Team member training for the Olympics.

Chris grew up in northern Michigan. When he was 10, he began working with his father on construction projects during summer vacations. “I've spent the majority of my time with my dad on construction sites,” Chris says. “My dad is a master craftsman with no equals.”

It was Chris’s father who first learned the Transcendental Meditation technique in the family and then inspired the rest of the family to learn. His father later became a Sidha. “In my life I have gained so many lessons by just being with him, watching him work, feeling his steadiness and trustworthiness,” Chris says. “He's a rock, and the rock is shaped like a heart as big as the unified field.”

Chris's Transcendental Meditation practice inspired a change from the martial arts career he envisioned. In 2006 he moved to Fairfield to participate full time in the Invincible America Assembly, and in 2009 he became a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program.

He knows the MUM student body and community well, having worked at MUM for five years, three as the Director of US admissions and most recently as Associate Dean of Students. He just completed his master’s in Maharishi Vedic Science. He and his wife Alexandria have two sons, Joshua and Narayan.

The Campus Safety and Security Office has two responsibilities: Overseeing the campus security personnel, and overseeing all other aspects of campus safety — which includes ensuring that we are always in compliance with fire safety and building code regulations. Chris’s construction experience with his father will serve him well here.

"Taking on the responsibility of Director of Campus Safety and Security is very rewarding for me,” Chris says. “I feel like this is my dharma. It's very natural for me to have a role of protector.”

BEATA NACSA — New Co-Director of Campus Safety and Security

A native of Hungary and currently an MBA intern student, Beata comes to us with extensive academic training. She holds a PhD in law from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, a masters in human ecology from University of Eötvös Loránd University, and a law degree from University of Miskolc in Hungary. She was a professor of labor law in Hungary, worked as a judge, and is an extensively published researcher.

Beata learned the Transcendental Meditation technique in San Diego in 1995 and the TM-Sidhi program in Budapest in 1997.

With all of this, she wanted to come to Maharishi University of Management to further her education.

“Enrolling at MUM gave me the opportunity to become familiar with Consciousness-Based education as well as the faculty and staff at MUM,” she says. “I was so delighted by the spirit of MUM and the meditating community that I decided to seek employment at the University.”

In her new position, Beata finds she’s able to utilize skills she gained as a labor and employment lawyer. “During my more than twenty years in my professional career,” she says, “I acted as a barrister, a judge of a labor court, a tenured university professor in Hungary’s leading law school, and an expert working for international organizations such as the International Labor Office and the European Union. Though I had a varied and successful professional life in Hungary, during the past few years I found it less and less fulfilling. Seeking for 'more' brought me to Fairfield.”

“As a co-director of safety and security I am dedicated to preventing and eliminating risks and cultivating good communication with MUM departments and the different authorities,” she says. “I feel lucky to be able to work together with Chris Taft, and we complement each other in many different ways. I am convinced that together we will be able to provide a great service to the MUM community in the areas of security and safety.

Beata has a daughter at Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment.

ELLEN JONES — Outgoing Chief Lean Officer

Ellen has just stepped down from her position as Chief Lean Officer and is retiring from the University so that she can devote more time to her family and to personal development.

Ellen has served the University in many capacities over many years now, always brilliantly. Prior to becoming Chief Lean Officer, she worked in Institutional Advancement, where she was responsible for major gifts fundraising, and prior to that as Dean of Student Life, responsible for all aspects of student experience outside the classroom.

In earlier service to the University, she served as Professor of Law and Government, Dean of the College of Natural Law (our branch campus in Washington DC), Associate General Counsel, Dean of External Studies, Director of the Grants Office, and Equal Opportunity Officer.

Ellen is truly an ideal administrator, and we are all so grateful to have had the good fortune of her service to the University, together with her friendship and colleagueship and her example of enlightened, dynamic, blissful service to Maharishi.

“It has been my great honor and privilege to work with such extraordinary, competent, and devoted people,” Ellen says. “Thank you for the opportunity! I wish you all every success going forward. I hope you find that I have adequately held up my little stick, and that I continue to do so in other ways as we continue on together.”

Tom Brooks will be taking over the leadership of our campus-wide Lean enterprise, with support from Dr. Craig Pearson, Diana Rivera, Linlin Shi, and faculty members Andy Bargerstock and Tom Palladino.

LINLIN SHI & BEI LIU — Executive Director and Associate Executive Director of China Programs and Development

Shi (pictured left) and Liu (pictured below) are taking on expanded responsibility in the University, beyond the great work they are already doing. They are going to be helping with our efforts to recruit more students from China, supporting the great work that Professor Yunxiang Zhu has been doing for some years now.

Shi, the winner of two national awards in the field of Lean management, is a professor of management and accounting in the business department. She has more than 15 years of management experience and a strong network of long-standing relationships with various businesses and educational institutions in China that will enable MUM to widen its reach in that country. She has great strengths in the areas of leadership, teamwork, professional ethics, and strategic planning.

Liu has been an asset in our Distance Education department, where he has helped develop and expand our online courses and degree programs globally.

In their new capacities, Shi has the additional title of Executive Director of China Programs and Development, and Liu has the title of Associate Executive Director of China Programs and Development.

Beyond their initial focus of expanding our student recruitment from China, they will help promote cultural exchanges, cooperation, investments, partner relationships, and all other opportunities for Maharishi University of Management in China.

Shi and Liu have contributed so much to the University already, and they are always thinking about what more they can do. I’m grateful that they have stepped up to take on this additional responsibility. I have no doubt they will be successful.

DIANA KRYSTOFIAK — New Director of Field Experiences

For the past five years Diana has been helping Sustainable Living students find internships and develop careers.

Now she will be doing the same thing for all our undergraduate students.

Diana is our new Director of Field Experiences, and is part of the new Career Center team that includes Steve Langerud, Sheila Swanson, and Jan Sickler, working closely with Josh Wilson and Jada Foster in the Alumni Office.

Internships provide students with invaluable "high-impact" learning experiences and increase their chances of getting the job they want when they graduate. We intend that all our students will do internships at some point in their undergraduate careers, and Diana will spearhead this effort.

Diana brings extensive experience to this new role. In the Sustainable Living department, she also helped with academic advising and the Senior Project program, helped develop the various academic tracks, and helped attract leading faculty from around the world to speak and teach here.

Before that she spent three years as a faculty member at Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, working with K-12 teachers to integrate sustainability into the curriculum and teaching the school’s first course on sustainable living. She also managed the greenhouse, began a K-12 gardening program, and secured a grant for a rainwater catchment system.

She is a founding board member of Fairfield’s Sustainable Living Coalition and organized the two Bioneers Conferences held in Fairfield, in 2003 and 2004. She was the chair of Fairfield’s Sierra Club/Leopold Group, helped manage the Fairfield Farmers Market, and helped place people in jobs in Fairfield.

In other words, Diana knows a great deal about learning by doing and about community service — exactly what internships are all about.

Diana graduated from MUM in 1978 with a BA in education and is a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program.

SHEILA SWANSON — Director of the new Career Clinic

Sheila has been with the University since January 2010, as Director of the Student Success Center in the Student Life department, providing academic support to students, with special attention to students with learning disabilities. Currently the Associate Dean of the Student Life, Sheila has also served as Director of Residential Life and Coordinator of New Student Orientation.

As director of the newly created Career Clinic, she will lead the team that includes the Director of Field Experience (Diana Krystofiak), Director of Career Services, and the directors of the Alumni Office (Jada Foster and Josh Wilson), to support students during their time at MUM and beyond.

Sheila moved to Fairfield in 1981 with her husband, Dr. Gerald Swanson, to join the MIU community and raise their family in light of Maharishi's teaching and to participate in group practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi programs. In earlier service to the University, she taught the Core Course on Great Civilizations for several years, and she also taught American history and Geography at Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment.

Posted by on 12/12/2014 6:10:00 PMComments 0
Latest News from July 2014    

Summertime news 

Dear alumni and friends,

One might think that during the summer break, with many students away, things would be much quieter on campus.

Not so.

Here is what has been happening since graduation at the end of May:

Experience the Self Course

The third annual Experience the Self course took place from June 1–9. 30 people attended, from 16 states, with 8 learning Transcendental Meditation as part of the course. Many are inspired to learn the TM-Sidhi program and have signed up for Advanced Techniques. A number are interested in becoming students and some have applied. Here is a comment from a participant.

I'm writing first to thank you for putting together such a great program for us earlier this month. I really loved it, and got a lot out of it, and I know my friend Jennifer did too. The speakers and classes were excellent, and the tours too. I'm so enthused that I'm signing up for my 4th Advanced Technique for several months from now!

The Experience the Self course was conceived, organized, and led by Adrienne Shoenfeld, with help from members of the Enlightened Leadership program.

Visitors Weekend

Our most recent Visitors Weekend, July 4–7, brought 44 visitors from around the country.

Faculty Training Course

A dozen faculty — one representative from each academic department — are taking a month-long course entitled "Creating and Packaging an Ideal Faculty Development Program for Consciousness-Based Education: Applying Maharishi's Principles of Curriculum and Instruction to Accelerate the Development of Enlightenment in Students and Faculty,” designed by Dr. Susie Dillbeck in collaboration with our academic deans.

The faculty deeply appreciate this course. It has enriched their understanding of what Maharishi intended for Consciousness-Based education. The faculty participants will serve as the departmental experts in this knowledge, sharing it with their department and ensuring that all courses employ this knowledge most effectively.

Total Knowledge Course with Raja Peter Warburton

More than 300 people recently completed a week-long course led by Dr. Peter Warburton, Raja of Invincible Great Britain. The course began Monday evening, June 30, and continued through Monday afternoon, June 7, with meetings every afternoon and evening. Participants were encouraged to round in the mornings. Participants included Rajas, Trustees, most of our Executive Council, faculty, students, Invincible America Assembly participants, and community members.

As you probably know, Raja Peter began working closely with Maharishi immediately after completing his TTC in 1971, teaching numerous Teacher Training Courses, serving as Maharishi’s press officer, and working on countless projects, including many historic publications, under Maharishi’s direction. In 2006 and 2007 Maharishi tutored Raja Peter personally to bring out the specific exposition of complete knowledge that we had the privilege of enjoying.

Raja Peter showed tapes of Maharishi, took us through a number of charts illustrating the dynamics of consciousness (including charts we hadn’t seen), and told story after story of his experiences with Maharishi over more than 40 years. Raja Peter had visited here before, but there had never been an opportunity for the community to spend time with him like this.

It was a feast of knowledge. Everyone loved it. Adding to the fulfillment was the fact that Raja Peter’s birthday took place during the course. There is strong demand for him to return to offer the course again, and then to offer parts 2 and 3.

Governors Workshop

The annual 3-day Governors Workshop, July 9–11, just finished at the end of last week. More than 200 Governors from around the country came here to share best practices, with even more watching the event via live streaming. Many have stayed on to round.

Brad Mylett spoke to the group, reviewing recent University highlights, including Jim Carrey’s commencement address and student achievements. He encouraged all the Governors to promote the University in their cities. Brad’s message was encapsulated in this communication that a recent Visitors Weekend participant wrote to Mario Orsatti:

Salutations Mario!

I have just returned from the visitor's weekend at MUM and I would like to start off by saying thank you. You have been so truly supportive and I am so thankful for everything. I don't think I could adequately express how grateful I am because I could go on forever. If the MUM book had not been on the table during all of those group meditations, or you never told me about this amazing place, I never would have found it.

After visiting I've never been so sure about belonging anywhere. Especially on the drive to the airport after the weekend I couldn't help but feel I was going in the wrong direction.

I love how MUM is able to present often abstract concepts in very concrete quantitative ways.

MUM is the school of my dreams — a perfect balance of love and real-world applicability!

I was completely astounded at how well MUM provides ideal living conditions: food, water, outdoor space etc. It is all of the highest quality that made my stay perfect.

MUM has left me feeling very cleansed this weekend. I'm going home with so much more faith in America now that I know such a wonderful place exists.

Many different cultures, religions and races are represented, but everyone is accepted equally because its about each individual's own journey.

The feeling in the golden dome was amazing, the kindness here is all pervasive, it’s like heaven.

I was especially impressed with the Golden Dome.

The relationship between the teachers and students impressed me the most. This relationship is much closer than what I've experienced a other universities.

The environment MUM provides is amazing. I feel like it really helps creativity flourish.

I had an amazing weekend. I met a lot of awesome people. Everyone made me feel welcome.

I have never been anywhere that has so many people open to Knowledge. The environment here is amazing.

My consciousness has never been so open and aware than in this supportive environment. I have finally found somewhere I can belong and fit in. I was very lucky to find this place.

One of the Governors in the audience wrote Brad afterward: "Your presentation was well organized, hit the high notes, and was hilarious. When you were done the Governor sitting next to me said, 'That was a fantastic presentation.’"

Coming Up — The Waves Conference

From July 31 to August 3, we will be hosting the 11th international conference of the World Association for Vedic Studies. These annual meetings bring together scholars from around the country and around the world.

Typically they are held in major cities — Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, Houston. But conference organizers visited our campus earlier this year and decided to hold it here. This came about because a number of our faculty have given presentations at this conference in earlier years, including Raja Hagelin and Dr. Robert Schneider.

Close to 100 people will be traveling here for the event. Of the approximately 120 presentations, 40 will be our faculty and graduate students, so conference participants will be saturated in Maharishi Vedic Science and Technology. On the opening evening, there will be three plenary talks, given by Dr. Girish Momaya, Dr. Neil Paterson, and me. Raja Hagelin will give a plenary address on another evening.

Ongoing courses

And it’s not as if regular classes stop during the summer. Click here to see the many classes going on at the moment, in Compro and business.

The Enlightened Leadership Program — visit to the Netherlands

MUM Student Andrew Rushing speaks at the National Directors Conference in Meru, Holland.ELI members meet with Raja Kingsley Brooks.

Another significant event has been taking place this summer. Though not on campus, it has involved members of our Enlightened Leadership Program, now known as Enlightened Leadership International (ELI) due to the large number of young leaders participating in the program internationally.

10 ELI members traveled to the Netherlands, where they were joined by 30 ELI participants from 18 countries.

They have been participating in the National Directors Conference, where ELI was presented globally to Maharaja, the Rajas, and other leaders. One by one they introduced themselves and spoke. Adrienne says that afterward people came up after and said it was so powerful, it brought tears to their eyes. There was a great deal of discussion about Maharishi University of Management, and many ELI members want to come to the University as soon as possible.

The group met for 1 1/2 hours with Maharaja in Maharishi’s house. Many told Maharaja that this was the the most transformative experience they have ever had, and now they want to be full time for Maharishi. Afterward Maharaja said: “Now I know why you call them the next generation — because they are already mature leaders and ready to step into roles.”

They have had private meetings with other leaders, including Dr. Morris, Raja Konhaus, Raja Kingsley and Leslie, Raja Paul Potter, Dr. Ashley and Jane Deans, and Raja Luis (a pizza party).

Our MUM ELI members, together with ELI members from Germany, Belgium, and the Czech Republic, will visit Belgium to speak to the young meditators there about Maharishi University of Management, Consciousness-Based education, and Enlightened Leadership International. They will also do a teleconference with all the Transcendental Meditation centers in Germany.

Our Enlightened Leadership members will give a presentation to the whole community in the next few weeks.


"11 Coolest Small Cities It’s Time to Road Trip To"

This was the title of a feature that recently appeared in the online news site Buzzfeed. Fairfield is listed second, after Asheville and ahead of many better-known cities.

As always, we thank you for your leadership and support of Maharishi’s great university.

Jai Guru Dev


Latest News from April 2014    

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

I’d like to let everyone know about a number changes in leadership we’ve had in the last couple of months. I am excited about these moves, and I think we’re going to see some great things from these people in their new positions.

David Todt – new Chief Administrative Officer

David is taking the reins as CAO from Dr. David Streid, who is taking a leave of absence from the University (see below). His background prepares him perfectly for this new role.

David graduated from the University in 1982 with a degree in business, completing TTC as part of his degree. After that, he was involved in a number of business ventures in several different industries.

He started working for the University at the end of 1985. He worked as Assistant to the President and later, in the 1990s, as Treasurer. He spent three years working with Dr. Morris and other international Movement leaders on international projects.

Between 1998 and 2010, he oversaw all the new construction on campus, starting with the Dreier Building, which opened in 2000, and ending most recently with the Argiro Student Center.

He then became Vice-President of Expansion, responsible for leading our strategic planning effort as well as helping with the Endowment Campaign.

“Having played a key role in developing the University’s strategic plan and being very excited about our growth opportunities, I’m thrilled now to be part of the leadership in organizing the resources and guiding the expansion that we envisioned in the strategic plan. We are growing and expanding, and our future looks fantastic. I’m really happy and honored to be a part of it."

Ellen Jones – new Chief Lean and Sustainability Officer

We created this new position to support Ellen’s passion for making the University as streamlined, high-performing, employee satisfying, and customer satisfying as possible.

Ellen became a faculty member in 1979, teaching law and government courses and serving as Associate General Counsel. She assumed various leadership roles — including Dean of External Studies and Co-Dean of MIU College of Natural Law (MUM’s branch campus in Washington, DC) together with her husband, Chris, before taking a multi-year leave to raise their two sons, Jeremy and Benjamin.

Ellen returned to MUM in 2009 as Dean of Student Life, responsible for overseeing the student experience outside the classroom. She also became a member of the Executive Council at that time.

Last year Ellen began working on the Endowment Campaign, reconnecting donors with the University.

She is very enthusiastic about her new position:

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on faculty and staff, as well as our students, trustees, and benefactors, to identify ways to make the University more efficient, financially self-sufficient, and excellent in every way.”

Tom Brooks – Vice-President of Expansion

Tom is back, and he has taken over for David Todt as VP of Expansion. His special focus: expanding the academic programs with high growth prospects — particularly new master’s degree programs such as the David Lynch MA in Film, and the MA in Sustainable Living that we hope to begin this fall. He is also the Executive Council member overseeing our distance education initiatives.

Tom has done so many things at the University. He worked as project manager for Physical Plant, helped oversee construction for the Taste of Utopia Assembly, helped supervise the construction of the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment building, served as deputy chair of the 7000 Council, served as assistant to Dr. Morris at MERU in Holland, co-founded MUM Organic Farms, and served two tenures as the University’s Chief Administrative Officer and later as Chief Operating Officer. He took two leaves from the University, first to supervise the renovation of the Movement’s 70 Broad Street building in Manhattan, and then to serve as Chief Operating Officer at the Maharishi Vedic Pandit Campus.

Tom will also work with Ellen Jones as a member of the Lean Steering Committee and Campus Sustainability Committee.

Tom says:

“Being back at Maharishi University of Management is like a dream come true. The ideal routine and the Golden Domes and so many wonderful friends make each day a blissful experience. I see so many positive changes that have taken place in the two years I have been away, and now I get a chance to help grow the University even more toward the vision we all share. Jai Guru Dev”

Mary King – new Registrar

Mary is taking over as Registrar for Tom Rowe, who will remain in the Enrollment Center doing more strategic work (see below).

Mary has also served the University in a number of important capacities. In the 1970s, while pursuing her Masters in Educational Administration, she was the Personnel Director and later the Assistant Registrar. In the 1980s she worked with the faculty to help create our MBA program. For several years in the 1990s she was the assistant director of Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in the Radiance community in Austin, Texas. From 2008 to 2011 she was an administrator in Student Life, where, among other duties, she served as the First-Year Program academic coordinator. Since 2011 she has worked in the Enrollment Center, as the transcripts officer and graduation director. She helped oversee the transition of academic advising from the Enrollment Center to the various academic departments, including training faculty to be academic advisors. Mary received an MA in Education from the University in 1989.

Mary says:

“I'm excited about the opportunity to further improve the Enrollment Center's customer service, help increase student retention, and support our staff. I'm also looking forward to working with the faculty to realize the goals Maharishi established for this University — a Consciousness-Based university.”

Tom Rowe – Enrollment Center

Tom will remain in the Enrollment Center but in a more strategic role. He will also focus on bringing the Enrollment Center services more fully online to better serve both Fairfield and distance education students. He will also assist Mary King with administrative duties and reporting functions. 

Tom Rowe arrived in Fairfield in 1980 to help create coherence, as the men's Dome was still being built. He worked in several early Sidha businesses before joining the University in 1986. Tom first served as Financial Aid Award Officer when Student Services were still in Verrill Hall and Registrations were still in the Fieldhouse. 

Tom earned a staff scholarship to attend TTC in 1989 and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in California and Kansas City for three years with his wife Dorothy before returning to MUM in 1993 to serve as Director of Financial Aid. After ten years Tom moved across to the Enrollment Center to serve as Registrar for the last ten years. 

Tom says:

"I have enjoyed serving our students and faculty so much over all these years. There is such a profound joy in working for this University and seeing the development of consciousness day by day among all those who are lucky enough to be here together in this special place."

Yali Jiang – Director of Student Accounts

Yali first came to us in 2010. She was an intern student in the MBA program and worked as the office manager of the Art Department for a year and a half. She spent another year and a half as Assistant Director of Student Activities, then moved to the Enrollment Center, where she worked as the Assistant Director of student accounts for about six months. Then, last October, she became our Director of Student Accounts.

Yali was already an outstanding student when she arrived. She had earned a BA in business administration from Capital University of Economics and Business in China, where she earned the Excellent Student Award in 2008 — and in 2010 received the Outstanding Student of the Year Award from our Management Department. She holds an MBA in sustainable business and a Lean Accounting Certificate from MUM.

About working at MUM, Yali says:

"It’s a place that I can explore my potential and talents and give back to humanity."

Dan Wasielewski – Enrollment Center – Financial Aid Office

We’re also so happy to have Dan back at the University, working in the Financial Aid office as a Financial Aid Award Officer.

Dan first came to MIU way back in October 1975 and worked in a variety of departments and leadership positions: Student Accounts, Associate Controller, Administrative Assistant, Student Financial Aid Director, Food Services Director, Student Affairs Council, Human Resources Director. In 1987 he earned his MBA degree from MUM.

In 1995 he took on the job of managing hotels and other Movement properties in cities around the US — Hartford, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Lancaster, and Antrim (New Hampshire). He also spent time in Vlodrop, Boone, and several other countries on various Movement projects.

For the last four years Dan worked at the Maharishi Vedic Pandit campus in Maharishi Vedic City.

Dan has been working full-time for the Movement since 1975. He says:

“The fastest path of evolution always leads to MUM.”

Dr. David Streid

As I mentioned, Dave is taking a leave from the University. He has been at Maharishi University of Management as a student, faculty member, and administrator, in addition to teaching the Transcendental Meditation program in the field for many years and being on Purusha for a number of years as well.

He came here first as an undergraduate student in the 1970s, earning a degree in mathematics and going on to earn a PhD in mathematics from the University of Illinois. He returned as a faculty member in the mathematics department and then was named Chief Administrative Officer in 2004.

Along with all the responsibilities of this position, he was a major force in building the Argiro Student Center, helping design and equip the kitchen. He also led the way with our campus master planning process and oversaw all the campus renovation projects of the last few years.

He has been a quiet, powerful force in the University for years. We wish him all the best during his leave.


Latest News from March 2014    

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

It has been awhile since my last blog posting, so the inside stories have accumulated and there is a lot of news to share. I'll try to do these in shorter, more frequent doses.

In this post I want to tell you about:

  • the great new Compro entry
  • the renovations we're doing in Verrill Hall for our growing Compro enrollment
  • our new health insurance coverage
  • the status of the Campus Clinic
  • our spring standard student enrollment and some marketing initiatives
  • the latest achievement from business professors Andy Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi
  • the Board of Trustees meeting that took place on March 1
  • the 749 windows we have replaced (with a $20,000 grant from Alliant Energy)
  • comments from the visitors to our most recent Visitors Weekend
  • where Iowa ranks in a listing of the happiest states in America 

100 new Compro students arrive on campus

This past month, as most of you know, we enrolled 100 Compro students, the largest entry since 2008.

These students come from 26 countries, including 23 from Ethiopia, 13 from Nepal, 8 from Bangladesh, 7 each from Egypt and the Philippines, and 6 each from China and Mongolia — and perhaps our first-ever student from the Gambia.

This is on top of the 97 students we enrolled in October (the second largest since 2008) and the 45 students we expect in June — for a total of 242 this year, a huge boon to our enrollment and our budget. We had the highest percentage of visa accepts from Nepal and Ethiopia in a decade, 20 more than the target.

The Compro students are now taking the 33-lesson Science of Creative Intelligence course. The faculty tell us that the students are enjoying this course a great deal and having good experiences with their Transcendental Meditation practice, and the Student Government says that these students seem to be more engaged with campus life and activities than any previous Compro class.

Dr. Greg Guthrie and Elaine Guthrie left just a few days ago on a recruiting tour of China and Nepal.

Congratulations to Greg and Elaine and to Dr. Keith Levi, Craig Shaw, Peter Vonderheide, and the whole Compro team.

Renovation for new Compro students

We are renovating the south end of Verrill Hall to create a classroom environment for our expanding Compro enrollment.

We are creating two new large classrooms, which can accommodate 35–40 students each, as well as upgrading an existing classroom. We’re also creating several new offices, as well as upgrading the bathrooms and significantly improving two hallways.

The whole area will be virtually new from top to bottom, with new HVAC, ceiling, lighting, walls, and flooring, plus new furniture for the classrooms. The total investment in this project is about $150,000.

In the fall we’ll convert an old laboratory in Verrill Hall back to its original function for our expanding Physiology and Health department.


Unlimited health insurance coverage for all full-time employees

Starting in January, health insurance coverage for our full-time faculty and staff rose to infinity, in keeping with the regulations of the Affordable Care Act. This requires an additional $240,000 investment from the University. Now no full-time employee is at risk of being wiped out financially due to some health situation, and those who had been “buying up” to higher levels of insurance coverage no longer have this expense.


Admissions and marketing

We fell short on our US undergraduate enrollment goals, especially compared to our bumper crop last year — 44 new standard (non-Compro) students this spring, compared to 69 last spring and an average of 55 from 2009–2012.

At the same time, the trend in US graduate students in our other programs has remained strong over the last two semesters. We also saw an increase in the Accounting Professionals program enrollment — 15 new students this spring compared to 7 last year.

We have a number of exciting marketing initiatives either in planning or underway. Foremost among these is that we’re redesigning the University website. Actually, we are creating two new designs:

  • The MUM Marketing Department is creating a new design similar to the new international sites (uk.tm.org), with improved architecture. We will A/B test this site against our existing site. A/B testing means that we have both sites up at the same time, and half the visitors to mum.edu are presented with one of the sites, half with the other, and we monitor the results — how long people stay on the site, how they engage with it, whether they send in a prospective student inquiry.

  • Alek Lisefski, MUM graduate and talented web designer, is also designing a new University website. This site will include structural changes that will flatten the site architecture to affect user retention and conversion. Alek’s site will also employ “responsive design,” meaning the site will adapt to all mobile platforms. We will A/B test Alek’s site against the winner of the International TM.org model and our existing site.

We’re also strongly considering contracting with a public relations firm called Stamats to help us boost public perception of the University. Stamats is based in Iowa but works with colleges and universities around the country.

I will tell you about the other initiatives in my next blog post in a week or two.


Integrated campus wellness clinic now open

Our campus clinic opened in January in the Maharishi Peace Palace for women on the west side of Highway 1. Its focus is prevention and wellness.

Dr. Jim Davis is the medical director, assisted by a Maharishi Ayur-Veda expert Vaidya from Nepal. Our campus nurse, Deidre Lentz, is working there, and undergraduate students in Physiology and Health being trained as Maharishi Ayur-Veda consultants will assist with wellness consultations.

We are waiting for Dr. Davis to get his final approval from the state — which should come any day now — to begin his practice.

The clinic’s primary goal will be to provide integrative wellness for students, faculty, and staff, including Maharishi Ayur-Veda assessments and recommendations. Dr. Davis, an osteopathic physician, has 23 years of experience as a practitioner of Maharishi Ayur-Veda. Most recently he has been in private practice in Austin.


Congratulations to Dr. Andy Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi

Last week Dr. Andrew Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi, business department faculty members, were notified that a paper they had coauthored had been named Best Case Study for the 2014 Carl Menconi Ethics Competition by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

The article will be published in the July issue of Strategic Finance, a monthly IMA journal focusing on professional practices in management accounting and finance.

The Menconi Case Competition aims to develop teaching cases around ethical issues affecting management accountants and finance professionals.

This continues a pattern of recognition from the IMA for the accounting faculty and PhD students at MUM:

  • Last October, Lin Lin was named IMA’s Lean Accounting Student of the Year for her work in teaching and writing case studies while pursuing her PhD at MUM.

  • In 2011, Manjunath Rao was named Lean Accounting Student of the Year and shortly, thereafter, he received a research grant from the IMA for his PhD dissertation research completed in 2013.

  • In 2009, Dr. Bargerstock was named Excellence in Lean Accounting Professor at the Lean Accounting Summit. 


Board of Trustees meeting March 1

The Board of Trustees held its second meeting of the year last Saturday, March 1. Main agenda points:

  • Compro — They met with the Compro leaders to congratulate them on their great success

  • Admissions and Marketing — They met with the Admissions leaders — Brad Mylett, Paul Stokstad, Paul Schaefer, Aster Hesse, Alwin Hesse, Gwendolyn Stowe, plus David Sinton, our website analytics consultant — to review the spring enrollment and prospects for the fall.

  • Fundraising — They reviewed the status of our endowment campaign and the Annual Fund, with endowment campaign chair Mayor Ed Malloy, along with David Todt and Ellen Jones. The Annual Fund is running just ahead of where it was at this point last year, and this year so far we have 890 donors, compared to 745 at this time last year.

  • David Lynch MA in Film — They met with Stuart Tanner, Gurdy Leete, Noah Buntain to review the progress of this new initiative. The students are now working on their final projects.

  • MA in Maharishi Ayur-Veda and Integrative Medicine — They met with Dr. Keith Wallace, Dr. Paul Morehead, and Dr. Robert Schneider to review this new program, an online program with tracks for medical doctors and health professionals. We plan to launch this in August.

  • May Board of Trustees meeting — Usually this meeting runs for the 3-4 days prior to graduation. This year, Board members are invited to come a week early and spend the first five days rounding on the Invincible America Assembly as well as visiting classes during the first part of that last week. The idea is for Trustees to gain a fuller taste of the rich experience here.


Fall-to-spring retention dips slightly

You may recall that last fall, our fall-to-fall student retention rate for new first-year students (the figure we report to the Federal government) rose to nearly 80%, which may be an all-time high. 

Our fall-to-spring retention rate (last fall to now) dipped slightly this year, compared to the last three years. For all new undergraduates it was 82.4%, compared to 89.4% last year, 90% the year before, and 85.1% the year before that. For all undergraduates the figure was 87.2%, compared to 91.3%, 88.6%, and 86.4% for the three prior years.

Although these are not significant changes, we always try determine the reason for students not returning, including calling them where necessary. Three of the non-returning students never completed a course. Altogether nine did not return for academic reasons (poor GPA, lack of motivation, learning challenges, etc.). Seven transferred to other schools, in some cases to pursue disciplines not offered here. Six had health issues, five had family issues, four needed or wanted to work, three were suspended, three wanted to travel, and one ran out funds. For seven students the reasons remain unknown.


749 windows replaced – with a $20,000 rebate

As part of the 2-year frat renovation project, we have replaced 749 windows in 11 buildings with Energy Star windows — and we received a $20,000 rebate from Alliant Energy, our energy provider.

In addition to this rebate, we expect these windows to save us $13,000 per year in energy costs through increased energy efficiency.

The detailed application for the Alliant rebate took several months to complete. Congratulations to Dr. Dave Streid and our Aramark team.


Comments from visitors to our last Visitors Weekend

  • I love how MUM is able to present often abstract concepts in very concrete quantitative ways.
  • MUM is the school of my dreams — a perfect balance of love and real-world applicability!
  • I was completely astounded at how well MUM provides ideal living conditions: food, water, outdoor space etc. It is all of the highest quality that made my stay perfect.
  • MUM has left me feeling very cleansed this weekend. I'm going home with so much more faith in America now that I know such a wonderful place exists.
  • Many different cultures, religions and races are represented, but everyone is accepted equally because its about each individual's own journey.
  • The feeling in the golden dome was amazing, the kindness here is all pervasive, it’s like heaven.
  • I was especially impressed with the Golden Dome.
  • The relationship between the teachers and students impressed me the most. This relationship is much closer than what I've experienced a other universities.
  • The environment MUM provides is amazing. I feel like it really helps creativity flourish.
  • I had an amazing weekend. I met a lot of awesome people. Everyone made me feel welcome. 
  • I have never been anywhere that has so many people open to Knowledge. The environment here is amazing.
  • My consciousness has never been so open and aware than in this supportive environment. I have finally found somewhere I can belong and fit in. I was very lucky to find this place. 


Iowa among the 10 happiest states in America

The annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks Iowa number 10 in its listing of “The Happiest States in America” and four other states around Iowa in the top 10.

More than 176,000 people from all 50 states were interviewed last year for the index, which measures Americans' physical and emotional health. Well-being effectively reflects health, employment, education, and the local environment.

The highest-ranking states are not particularly wealthy. But this is counterbalanced by the fact that residents are healthier and more likely to learn new things every day.

Iowa ranked #10. Three other top 10 states border on Iowa — Minnesota (#4), Nebraska (#3), and South Dakota (#2) — while #1 is nearby North Dakota. (Hawaii ranked #8.)

So, quality of life-wise, Iowa is right up there with Hawaii — good to keep in mind in the winter.

Thank you all for your good work day after day after day.

Jai Guru Dev


Iowa among the 10 happiest states in America

The annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks Iowa ranks Iowa number 10 in its listing of “The 

October news    

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

There's been lots of good news these past few weeks.

Retention increases across the board

Our fall-to-fall retention rate for first-time undergraduate students — that is, students who are new to college who enrolled here last fall and returned this fall semester — rose from 77.3% last year to 79.4% this year. 

This is the highest retention rate we have had in the last nine years and represents the fifth straight year this number has increased. This is the figure we report to the Federal government.

Retention also increased among all new undergraduates (that is, transfer students as well as new-to-college students) and among all undergraduates taken together.

Retention is an overall measure of the student experience, both in the classroom and out. These numbers reflect the great work of everyone who comes into contact with our students, from the Admissions Office in the initial stages to the Student Life department to everyone in the University — and especially the faculty.

Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this achievement. We intend to continue doing everything we can to further increase these numbers.

MUM helps form the new Iowa College Sustainability Alliance

Professor Lonnie Gamble and Steve Langerud have inspired faculty at Grinnell College and Luther College — two of Iowa’s leading private colleges — to form the Iowa College Sustainability Alliance.

The purpose of the Alliance is to organize exchanges and collaborative projects among students and faculty at colleges across Iowa. They are planning to start with a summer sustainability institute for students — with the first one hosted at MUM next summer, and then rotating among institutions. Other collaborations could include sharing guests speakers. We are already planning an exchange with Grinnell when the former Minister of Education for Bhutan visits here later this year.

Here's what Steve Langerud says about this:

What I have heard from faculty at other colleges while I have been on the road is this: MUM students are head and shoulders above students at other colleges in terms of their understanding of deep sustainability, their practical application of these principles, and, finally, their post graduate activities that bring these ideas to life as social and business entrepreneurs and activists.

When Lonnie mentioned that he would like to learn what they are doing in their curriculum, the faculty member said, "Your students should be teaching us what to teach!"

Clearly, in the area of sustainability, MUM is admired for its innovative curriculum and outcomes. From what I hear, we are the not just the leading edge, but the bleeding edge of this scholarly area.  (I would argue for the development of a scholarly, peer reviewed journal housed at MUM!)

One student who I met and shared information about our study abroad programs went to a computer and looked up MUM. He came back to me and said, "I am so jealous of those students. I wish I had known about MUM when I was picking a college."

Six students from DePauw will join Lonnie on the Hawaii J-Term program. And many are interested in joining MUM students in Bhutan this summer. Another student plans to study at MUM next fall.

I have learned so much going out and sharing our programs. We should continue to push our faculty and students into public positions as thought leaders in deep sustainability and preparation for satisfying careers.  

Congratulations and thank you to Lonnie and Steve, on helping place MUM in this leadership role in Iowa, and to David Fisher and everyone in the Sustainable Living department for creating such a high-quality learning experience for our students.

Check out Steve Langerud's new "Career Coach" blog
Steve has created a blog for students entitled "Career Coach: Strategies and Tactics for Career Success." 

This is just one of many things Steve is doing, along with Jan Sickler, to strengthen our Career Center for students — and also for alumni. In a future blog post, I'll lay out all the exciting initiatives.

Answering your phone – campus-wide protocol

I’d like to clarify our protocol for handling phone calls. This may be slightly different from what was sent out earlier.

1 – Always answer your phone when it rings in your office — Do not let it go onto voicemail. We are here to serve the people who need us, and this is one of the most important ways to do it. If you’re in a meeting and cannot talk at length, take the call and quietly tell the person when to call back or when you will return the call.

2 – Switch on voicemail when you leave your desk — People expect to be able to leave a message if you are away from your phone. We don’t want to frustrate people by having them place calls to phones that just ring and ring. Keep your voicemail message short: "This is Hugh Jackman, please leave me a message," or "This is Katy Perry, please leave a message or call back later."

3 – If you need to be reached when you’re away from your office, make sure people can reach you on your cell — Forward your office phone to your cell phone as necessary.

4 – Return all calls promptly — We are a service organization — and few things say “excellent customer service” than getting back to people right away

How are we doing? Comment from a member of the Fairfield community

We must be doing pretty well with this. I received this unsolicited comment from a Fairfield resident, who had worked to help plan an event on campus:

I would like to share with you a positive experience I had in the run-up to the event, which is how delightful it was to work with people (mostly over the phone) who I do not know, but who impressed me as having an extraordinary combination of friendliness, intelligence, competency, and professionalism along with overflowing bliss. Just interacting with the MUM staff over the phone felt almost like a number one experience in the Dome!

It made me think how wonderful it would be if lots and lots of people could have an experience similar to my own. The contrast between the usual "customer service" interaction over the phone or in person at almost every company or institution these days with my uplifting experience with MUM staff was really striking. It seemed to me that many non-meditators could become very receptive to learning TM and/or attending MUM just by getting a chance to be "served" by the wonderful staff that are so ably helping you accomplish Maharishi's CBE goals.

Thank you to everyone for making one of our “customers” so satisfied that he took the time to write me this note.

Campus master planning takes another step forward

Picture Wallace Drive transformed into a beautiful pedestrian mall, perfectly straight, paved with brick, lined with trees and flags. . . . Now picture it extending across Highway 1, with a 12-story Maharishi Tower of Invincibility at its western end. . . . Picture a broad set of stairs leading up to the mall on the east, with a water feature running down the middle. . . . Envision a beautiful outdoor amphitheater sculpted into the hill in front of the Argiro Student Center, with a water feature there as well — a place for outdoor concerts and festivals and just enjoying the space. . . . Picture bike and pedestrian walkways connecting all parts of campus.

These are just a few of the features we will see on our campus as the Campus Master Plan gets implemented in the years to come. The process has been guided by a landscape architecture firm, Confluence, based in Iowa City.

But these are just broad brushstrokes. To actually implement the plan, many small design decisions are necessary. Looking at architects’ drawings can take you only so far. Creating a pedestrian mall, for example, will require dozens of finer-level decisions.

What’s the best way to do this?

Go and visit other pedestrian malls — and outdoor amphitheaters, etc. — and see how others have done it.

This is what Dr. Jeffrey Abramson, Chair of our Board of Trustees, proposed. Dr. Abramson should know. He’s a partner in The Tower Companies, the award-winning and sustainability-oriented Washington DC-based real estate development and building firm. 

Dr. Abramson proposed that a group of University leaders join him in visiting some sites in Iowa (he even generously funded the expense of this trip). Besides Dr. Abramson, the group included Dr. Bevan Morris, Trustees Toby Lieb and Doug Greenfield, Dr. David Streid, Michael and Rosemary Spivak, architect Jon Lipman, and Kathy Brooks. They were joined by representatives from Confluence.

They looked at campus streets that had been converted to pedestrian malls. They examined amphitheaters, walkways, bioswales, and water features. In particular, they visited the amphitheater with water feature and native plantings at the Leed-certified Aviva Campus in West Des Moines; the pedestrian mall at Central College with overhanging trees, a fire pit, and personal-sized spaces; the unique horse-tail bio-swale at Drake University; and the terraced native gardens at the Capitol Building in Des Moines. 

This was a preliminary step to the next phase of the Master Plan, which will now focus on detailed planning for the central campus area.

Thank you to Dr. Jeffrey Abramson, for inspiring, funding, and participating in this trip. And thanks to Dr. Dave Streid, who has poured so much time into our campus master planning process.

Click here to page through the beautiful booklet that lays out the master plan, with drawings of what the Wallace pedestrian mall and the outdoor amphitheater and 
other features will look like.

This vision for our campus need not be some distant dream. Any day we could wake up to the news that someone has decided to provide the funds to make this vision a reality. Let’s do everything we can to deserve that support of natural law.

Highlights of Pella to Des Moines Campus Landscaping Tour

September 25-26, 2013

Fire pit, seating, Central College

Pedestrian Mall, Central College; former city street; variety of elements projecting in and out on sides.

Amphitheater, Grinnell College

Bioswale, Aviva Campus

Water course, amphitheater, Aviva campus

Water course, amphitheater, Aviva campus

Bike racks, multiple campuses, from Signage, Aviva campus

Landscapeforms, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Horsetail bioswales lining pedestrian walk & former road that slopes. Walk is periodically interrupted with strip of pavers (bottom left in photo). When rainwater sheeting down walk hits a paver strip it soaks between the pavers where it is taken to the bioswales.

Allee—walk lined with over-arching trees both sides, Drake University

Separating two bioswales a walk lined with large limestone blocks, Des Moines University

Campus lighting: light bulb shines up; the light hits horizontal reflector and is reflected down onto the ground, with no visible bright point of light or light pollution. Two examples, River Walk, Des Moines.

Hybrid varieties of native plants, State Capitol Plaza, Des Moines

Don’t forget about the online suggestion box

If you have a suggestion for improving anything at the University — to save time or money or improve service — please send it to suggestions@mum.edu. You can win a $40 gift certificate at the Store or Golden Dome Market if your suggestion is chosen as the best that month.

Speaking of making things even better . . . 

I want to make sure everyone knows about the free online Lean training course that we all now have full access to. I encourage everyone to spend an hour or two looking through this. It’s full of systematic tools for how to do less and accomplish more in any organization.

Lean has been a great success in the University so far, and we have only scratched the surface. We will be applying Lean tools to every area in the University. The more familiar we all are with this, the better.Also see mum.edu/lean

We will have a staff meeting where we walk everyone through the basics in this course.

* * * * * * *

For a "small" private college, there is such incredible dynamism in this place, almost hard to keep pace with — such amazing creativity, with so many opportunities coming our way. It's a great time to be here.







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