Welcome back to a new year, Convocation, and Dyson College…

Welcome back to campus to all returning students, faculty and staff.  Welcome as well to the new students coming to our campuses for the first time!  The start of the school year always fills me with the urge to do better than last year, to assess what did and didn’t work and to keep improving.  But most of all, the new school year cries out for doing something new, challenging and hopefully rewarding.  Hence, this blog.

Dyson College has grown substantially in the last decade and touching base with everyone on an individual basis has become harder.  Blogging is a way to share ideas about Dyson quickly and to get feedback from you as well.  I look forward to starting a conversation with the diverse and dispersed Dyson community.  I would like to share with you the work that is going on in the College and at Pace: the initiatives we are pursuing, the activities and accomplishments of Dyson’s students, faculty and staff, and the ideas and issues we are discussing. 

I also welcome your suggestions.  If there are topics related to Pace, Dyson College, or some aspect of Higher Education that you would find interesting, please let me know at dysondean@pace.edu.

To welcome our new students, Pace opened the 2010-11 school year with a wonderful Convocation on the Pleasantville campus, gathering together students and faculty from both the New York and Pleasantville campuses.  Our invited speaker was Temple Grandin, Ph.D., a highly successful and renowned professional with a deep understanding of animal science and autism, who is herself autistic.  If you missed her talk, or would like to hear it again, you can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goUIkvTN88I.

As part of the celebration with Dr. Grandin, she graciously signed copies of her books, including the one I bought: Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism.  This book is remarkable because it simultaneously illustrates the essential humanity we all share while exploring the differences that make us unique.  Sometimes these differences work to our advantage and sometimes to our detriment…and often some of both.  These themes are echoed in our common reading, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a novel by Mark Haddon (http://www.pace.edu/pace/current-students/common-reading/this-years-selection/). 

In order to reach their goals, both Dr. Grandin and Christopher John Francis Boone have to confront the ways they interact with the world, focus on the positive and struggle to make sense of how others think. Thus, in real life and in fiction, we get to witness profoundly transformative experiences.

This type of transformative experience, the “Aha! moment,” is also what a college education is about: learning about ourselves and each other, finding ways to communicate and overcome our limitations, and celebrating all the different ways we can each contribute to the common good. 

Dr. Grandin and Christopher also share another important characteristic for success: persistence!  They do not let obstacles or setbacks stand in their way.  They constantly try to make sense of the world and learn the skills they need to move forward.  They rely on themselves, but they seek out others who can help them succeed.  They each move at their own speed, aware that others may do things differently, but never give  up on themselves.

As such, they are excellent role models for getting everything you want and need out of your Pace experience:  Take advantage of your time here to learn about yourself; figure out your strengths and weaknesses, whether they are academic or personal; and reach out to the Pace support systems (advisors, faculty, staff, counselors and peers) whenever you need help to guide you past a setback and get you back on track.  Set your own path and then follow it to your goal!

With best wishes for a wonderful new academic year,