President's Corner

What I'm Up To Paul LeBlanc

I'm reading:

Just read Clay Christensen’s new book, The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty. This was an advance copy, so soon available. Clay is an old friend and a huge influence on how we have grown SNHU and our approach to innovation. This book is so compelling, because we know attempts at development have so often been a failure and it is often puzzling to understand why some countries with desperate poverty and huge challenges somehow come to thrive (think S. Korea, Singapore, 19th C. America), while others languish. Clay offers a fresh way of thinking about development through the lens of his research on innovation and it is compelling. I bet this book gets a lot of attention, as most of his work does. I also suspect that many in the development community will hate it, as it calls into question the approach and enormous investments we have made in an attempt to lift countries out of poverty. A provocative read and, as always, Clay is a good storyteller.

I'm watching:

Just watched Leave No Trace and should have guessed that it was directed by Debra Granik. She did Winter’s Bone, the extraordinary movie that launched Jennifer Lawrence’s career. Similarly, this movie features an amazing young actor, Thomasin McKenzie, and visits lives lived on the margins. In this case, a veteran suffering PTSD, and his 13-year-old daughter. The movie is patient, is visually lush, and justly earned 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (I have a rule to never watch anything under 82%). Everything in this film is under control and beautifully understated (aside from the visuals) – confident acting, confident directing, and so humane. I love the lack of flashbacks, the lack of sensationalism – the movie trusts the viewer, rare in this age of bombast. A lovely film.

I'm listening to:

My listening choices usually refer to music, but this time I’m going with Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast on genius and the song Hallelujah. It tells the story of Leonard Cohen’s much-covered song Hallelujah and uses it as a lens on kinds of genius and creativity. Along the way, he brings in Picasso and Cézanne, Elvis Costello, and more. Gladwell is a good storyteller and if you love pop music, as I do, and Hallelujah, as I do (and you should), you’ll enjoy this podcast. We tend to celebrate the genius who seems inspired in the moment, creating new work like lightning strikes, but this podcast has me appreciating incremental creativity in a new way. It’s compelling and fun at the same time.

I'm tweeting at @snhuprez:

Pop Picks

Cathartic analysis of the Patriots’ defeat

Posted on January 21, 2013

The Patriots performance was so dismal yesterday that I have to summarize my analysis as a cathartic act so I can let it go.  I do this wholly for my own state of mind and if you have no interest in the Pats please stop here.  Why did they lose? 1.  Injuries. The winners hate […]

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People and Places

On the Importance of Writers to the World

Posted on January 8, 2013

Our daughter Emma just finshed her MFA program here at SNHU and was one of two student speakers at this weekend’s graduation. For any of us who love literaure or harbor secret or not so secret hopes of being a writer, I think her talk will resonate.  So with her prmission I’ve shared it below. […]

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Pop Picks

A wonderful novel: On Maggie’s Watch

Posted on January 6, 2013

I have a very warm place in my heart for stories that find drama, magic, loss, and redemption in everyday life.  Life as most of us live it.  I’d include movies like Tender Mercies and Win Win, the poetry of Alan Feldman, and now the novel On Maggie’s Watch by Ann Garvin, a faculty member […]

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People and Places

The Special Places

Posted on December 29, 2012

A good friend of ours recently wrote a blog post about how a place he once loved to visit had become ruined by successive waves of development (  This is an extended version of a response I wrote to him. Pat and the girls and I have talked about this phenomenon: the way a place is […]

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A President's Reflections


Posted on December 18, 2012

The mass killing of schoolchildren and their teachers in Newtown, CT last week has left our country (and much of the world) reeling.  Even the NRA, usually so vocal in the wake of any shooting, has remained silent in the face of the unspeakable.  I am usually happy to weigh in on just about any topic, […]

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A President's Reflections

How government can support competency based learning

Posted on December 8, 2012

SNHU is one of a handful of institutions pushing forward with new competency-based education (CBE) models of education, joining long-standing pioneers like Excelsior College, Charter Oak State College, and Western Governor’s University and newer players like Northern Arizona University in finding ways to speed the way to degrees for the millions of Americans who have […]

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A President's Reflections


Posted on November 23, 2012

We had 42 for dinner and 52 for dessert at our Thanksgiving Day gathering.  Ages ran from 2 to 94 (my mother).  Guests were from as far away as China and Russia and Italy and from troubled places like Syria. We loved this editorial from the NY Times and read it aloud as our “grace” […]

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Current Issues

Days of around Xmas

Posted on November 19, 2012

With every holiday there are questions about what days should be on or off.  Here’s one related to Christmas: Can you explain the process   that is used in selecting the Holiday Schedule?  I think you would agree   that most people are very busy Christmas day and it would be beneficial to  have Dec 26 […]

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People and Places

Boston Scavenger Hunt

Posted on November 15, 2012

I am leading a three day management and professional development retreat in Boston.  After hours inside and in workshops, it seemed like a good idea to come up with a way for people to get outside, get some exercise, and also do some team building. So I divided the group of eight into four two-person […]

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A President's Reflections

A Day Off On Veterans Day?

Posted on November 12, 2012

Every year we wrestle with the question of how to honor our veterans.  We know that for many and maybe most people, simply giving a day off means sleeping in and shopping and other activities and little about paying respect.  That’s not true for all and certainly not those who sincerely wish we cancelled classes […]

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