President's Corner

What I'm Up To Paul LeBlanc

reading
I'm reading:

I went back to an old favorite, Richard Russo’s Straight Man. If you work in academia, this is a must-read and while written 22 years ago, it still rings true and current. The “hero” of the novel is William Henry Devereaux Jr., the chair of the English Department in a second-tier public university in small-town Pennsylvania. The book is laugh aloud funny (the opening chapter and story about old Red puts me in hysterics every time I read it) and like the best comedy, it taps into the complexity and pains of life in very substantial ways. Devereaux is insufferable in most ways and yet we root for him, mostly because A) he is so damn funny and B) is self-deprecating. But there is also a big heartedness in Russo’s writing and a recognition that everyone is the protagonist of their own story, and life’s essential dramas play out fully in the most modest of places and for the most ordinary of people.

watching
I'm watching:

I can’t pretend to have an abiding interest in cheerleading, but I devoured the six-episode Netflix series Cheer, about the cheerleading squad at Navarro College, a small two-year college in rural Texas that is a cheerleading powerhouse, winning the National Championship 14 times under the direction of Coach Monica Aldama, the Bill Belichick of cheering. I have a new respect and admiration for the athleticism and demands of cheering (and wonder about the cavalier handling of injuries), but the series is about so much more. It’s about team, about love, about grit and perseverance, bravery, trust, about kids and growing up and loss, and...well, it’s about almost everything and it will make you laugh and cry and exult. It is just terrific.

listening
I'm listening to:

Spending 21 hours on airplanes (Singapore to Tokyo to Boston) provides lots of time for listening and in an airport shop I picked up a Rolling Stones magazine that listed the top ten albums of the last ten years. I’ve been systematically working through them, starting with Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I just don’t know enough about hip hop and rap to offer any intelligent analysis of the music, and I have always thought of Kanye as kind of crazy (that may still be true), but the music is layered and extravagant and genre-bending. The lyrics seem fascinating and self-reflective, especially around fame and excess and Kanye’s specialty, self-promoting aggrandizement. Too many people I know remain stuck in the music of their youth and while I love those songs too, it feels important to listen to today’s music and what it has to tell us about life and lives far different than our own. And in a case like Twisted Fantasy, it’s just great music and that’s its own justification.

 

tweeting
I'm tweeting at @snhuprez:

A President's Reflections

Smart, Curious, and Civil – Let’s Give It A Try

Posted on February 3, 2020

The political season has gone from warm to red hot as we move into the presidential primaries and then the general election. As always, New Hampshire is ground zero for much of the nation’s political drama, at least in the first act, though we share that space with the Iowa caucuses and the impeachment trial […]

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Pop Picks

Pop Picks – February 3, 2020

Posted on February 3, 2020

What I’m listening to:  Spending 21 hours on airplanes (Singapore to Tokyo to Boston) provides lots of time for listening and in an airport shop I picked up a Rolling Stones magazine that listed the top ten albums of the last ten years. I’ve been systematically working through them, starting with Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I […]

Read More »
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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