President's Corner

What I'm Up To Paul LeBlanc

reading
I'm reading:

Alan Bennett’s lovely novella An Uncommon Reader is a what-if tale, wondering what it would mean if Queen Elizabeth II suddenly became a reader. Because of a lucked upon book mobile on palace grounds, she becomes just that, much to the consternation of her staff and with all kinds of delicious consequences, including curiosity, imagination, self-awareness, and growing disregard for pomp. With an ill-framed suggestion, reading becomes writing and provides a surprise ending. For all of us who love books, this is a finely wrought and delightful love poem to the power of books for readers and writers alike. Imagine if all our leaders were readers (sigh).

watching
I'm watching:

I’m a huge fan of many things – The National, Boston sports teams, BMW motorcycles, Pho – but there is a stage of life, typically adolescence, when fandom changes the universe, provides a lens to finally understand the world and, more importantly, yourself, in profound ways. My wife Pat would say Joni Mitchell did that for her. Gurinder Chadha’s wonderful film Blinded By The Light captures the power of discovery when Javed, the son of struggling Pakistani immigrants in a dead end place during a dead end time (the Thatcher period, from which Britain has never recovered: see Brexit), hears Springsteen and is forever changed. The movie, sometimes musical, sometimes comedy, and often bubbling with energy, has more heft than it might seem at first. There is pain in a father struggling to retain his dignity while he fails to provide, the father and son tension in so many immigrant families (I lived some of that), and what it means to be an outsider in the only culture you actually have ever known.

listening
I'm listening to:

I was never really an Amy Winehouse fan and I don’t listen to much jazz or blue-eyed soul. Recently, eight years after she died at only 27, I heard her single Tears Dry On Their Own and I was hooked (the song was on someone’s “ten things I’d want on a deserted island” list). Since then, I’ve been playing her almost every day. I started the documentary about her, Amy, and stopped. I didn’t much like her. Or, more accurately, I didn’t much like the signals of her own eventual destruction that were evident early on. I think it was D. H. Lawrence that once said “Trust the art, not the artist.” Sometimes it is better not to know too much and just relish the sheer artistry of the work. Winehouse’s Back to Black, which was named one of the best albums of 2007, is as fresh and painful and amazing 13 years later.

tweeting
I'm tweeting at @snhuprez:

A President's Reflections

2019: An Extraordinary Year for SNHU

Posted on January 9, 2020

2019 was an extraordinary year for Southern New Hampshire University. Throughout the year, we celebrated more than 21,000 graduates, gained new friends and colleagues in Tucson, and supported more than 40 organizations across New Hampshire. As the year comes to a close and the SNHU community continues to grow, I wanted to share some of […]

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Pop Picks

Pop Picks – January 2, 2020

Posted on January 2, 2020

What I’m listening to:  I was never really an Amy Winehouse fan and I don’t listen to much jazz or blue-eyed soul. Recently, eight years after she died at only 27, I heard her single Tears Dry On Their Own and I was hooked (the song was on someone’s “ten things I’d want on a deserted island” list). […]

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Pop Picks

Pop Picks – November 25, 2019

Posted on November 25, 2019

My pop picks are usually a combination of three things: what I am listening to, reading, and watching. But last week I happily combined all three. That is, I went to NYC last week and saw two shows. The first was Cyrano, starring Game of Thrones superstar Peter Dinklage in the title role, with Jasmine Cephas Jones as Roxanne. She […]

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A President's Reflections

In Praise of Mistakes and Humility

Posted on November 18, 2019

Universities are “expert cultures,” where status accrues with each successive degree and being really smart is valued most. In such a culture, mistakes are often treated as failures of intelligence or capacity and asking for help or admitting struggle is seen as weakness. The irony here is that universities, of all organizations, mostly squander the […]

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A President's Reflections

The Power of Hope

Posted on November 1, 2019

I recently spent three days at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, one of the world’s largest with nearly 200,000 displaced people, with my colleagues in the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship. Our Global Education Movement (GEM) works to bring full Southern New Hampshire University degree programs to refugee learners in the camp, so our team knows the […]

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Pop Picks

Pop Picks – October 31, 2019

Posted on October 31, 2019

October 31, 2019 What I’m listening to:  It drove his critics crazy that Obama was the coolest president we ever had and his summer 2019 playlist on Spotify simply confirms that reality. It has been on repeat for me. From Drake to Lizzo (God I love her) to Steely Dan to Raphael Saadiq to Sinatra […]

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A President's Reflections

Stepping Up Our Game: Climate Change Urgency Heats Up

Posted on September 4, 2019

SNHU MFA graduate Elizabeth Rush is a Pulitzer finalist for her book Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore. It’s a carefully observed survey of America’s vulnerable coasts and the looming (already here) impact of climate change and sea levels on our coastal eco-systems and, disproportionally, on our most vulnerable communities. It also reads as […]

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Pop Picks

Pop Picks — August 30, 2019

Posted on August 30, 2019

August 30, 2019 What I’m listening to:  I usually go to music here, but the New York Times new 1619 podcast is just terrific, as is the whole project, which observes the sale of the first enslaved human beings on our shores 400 years ago. The first episode, “The Fight for a True Democracy” is a remarkable overview (in […]

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Pop Picks

Pop Picks — July 1, 2019

Posted on July 1, 2019

July 1, 2019 What I’m listening to:  The National remains my favorite band and probably 50% of my listening time is a National album or playlist. Their new album I Am Easy To Find feels like a turning point record for the band, going from the moody, outsider introspection and doubt of lead singer Matt Berninger to […]

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A President's Reflections

When Our Students Teach Us So Much – A Report From Our Recent Africa Trip

Posted on June 12, 2019

I’ve just returned from almost three weeks of travel in Africa, covering four countries — Rwanda, South Africa, Malawi, and Namibia. I’ll share my reflections on the first three countries, which were site visits to the camps where we bring SNHU degrees to displaced people. I’ll follow up with a second blog post on our time […]

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