Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Talk of the town...

The "alleged" sexual assault, rape and sodomy on a NC Central student that took place by Duke Lacrosse students has this town talking. It is in all the papers and even hit my local daily read, Inside Higher Ed, today. We even talked about this incident in one of my J-School classes last night. People are upset that this could happen and the J-School folks are especially upset that the Duke officials have not handled the crisis communication better, though they apparently now have FAQs on the situation.

My husband and I took a marriage bible study class two years ago at our church and one of the sessions was on why some men have trouble treating women with respect. We watched a video tape of a pastor who now teaches men how to respect women, including other pastors. He said in this video that men are socialized from a very young age to treat women as objects and to not think of them as people worthy of respect. We saw the session where he talks to women and the men watched the portion where he talks to men. It was very powerful to think that we as a society might be raising our boys and young men to think so little of the women they will marry and work with. No wonder there is a glass ceiling and there are failing marriages.

My son has been interested in learning how to play lacrosse, but now I am not so sure that is a good idea. I think we'll find a sport that encourages self-respect as well as respect for others.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Age and end time for the PhD...

A study mentioned in Inside Higher Ed reports that the mean time for students to complete a PhD from completing a bachelor's degree is 10.1 years. Supposedly, this is a slight improvement. The average age someone receives a PhD is 33.3 years, also down from a previous report.

While I agree that the time it takes to receive the degree is far too long, I don't see much wrong with graduating older students. In my pedagogy class last year, our instructor, who is now the interim Dean of our J-School, Tom Bowers, said that schools in general do look for older students when they are filling new positions. That did not sit well with the younger students in my co-hort, but it made me feel better about my life choices. Maybe academia in general should get over the notion that only young people can enter PhD programs--I can tell you from personal experience that I've seen the benefits to some of us old folks getting one, too.

About program length, my program is 3-years and assumes that you already come with your master's degree, so the total time from bachelor's to PhD is 5 years. This seems speedy compared to the sciences, and there are times I'd like to catch my breath, but it is one of the reasons I was drawn to the program. I'm not here to waste time--I'm here for a purpose--to get my PhD. I know what I want to do and getting the degree is just the beginning of my life in academia, not the end. Heck, by the time I graduate, if I plan to retire at 70, I'll still have a good 25-26 years left to teach.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Isolation is not just in academia...

The articles from Inside Higher Ed often get me thinking, and today is no different. This one discusses the problem of isolation in academia and asks whether or not we bring this upon ourselves, by virtue of our career choice.

After living in Ann Arbor, MI, State College, PA, East Lansing, MI, Winston-Salem, NC and now Chapel Hill/Durham, NC, I can now confidently say that isolation is not just in academia. My husband has always been an academic, but I have not. We have always been church members and our children have always been involved with their schools. What we have found is that people are very wrapped up in their own lives, and in the south, it is complicated by the fact that we are "yankees". When we first moved to the south, it was made very clear to me that I was different. They already had their circle of friends--couldn't I just go and find my own?!

We struggle with this today. My children love their school, but we sit in the car pool line and don't know any of the other parents who sit next to us. My husband is the brave one who gets out and walks around, hoping to strike up a conversation with the other moms who are waiting to pick up their children. I've actually tried to do this at school functions, but the parents are too busy talking to their old friends to be interested in meeting a new person.

Maybe it is just that comfort in the old feeds isolation. In our next life, we are looking for just the opposite.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Is an MBA losing its luster?

An article in Ad Age describes a study that finds that consumer products companies with MBAs underperform vs. companies without MBAs.

I wonder if this study is getting talked about in B-Schools today. I fell in love with marketing in business school, but once I started working, consulting, teaching and even sitting on non-profit boards, I realized that there was something missing in my education, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Don't get me wrong, I had amazing marketing professors at Michigan, but I wanted to know even more. I met with a former student yesterday whom I had for a marketing elective at Wake Forest University, and she also mentioned that she felt that she was missing something in her basic marketing education.

When I looked at PhD programs, I knew that I needed to get a different perspective, which is what prompted me to look at UNC. I used Bob Lauterborn's integrated marketing communications approach in my own teaching--the 4Cs instead of the 4Ps, and knew I had to learn more about this aspect of marketing communications.

New media and younger consumers' use of media is transforming the way they respond to marketing communications. These changes should impact the way we create and use marketing communications. Let's see if it does.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Next stop, an Advertising Conference...

I'm going to the American Academy of Advertising conference at the end of the month in Reno, Nevada. I'm presenting a paper on the leadership lessons of J. Walter Thompson from 1936-1938 based on research I did last spring break at the archives at Duke library. I am presenting the only advertising history paper, so it should be interesting.

The Dean of our J-school, Tom Bowers, nominated me to write about a grad student's perspective on school and academic life for the conference newsletter, so I thought I'd share what I wrote.

The greatest challenge for me as a graduate student has been going back to school as an older student. My first career after Business School was in corporate sales and marketing, and my second career was as an adjunct instructor of marketing at Penn State and Wake Forest University. Once I realized that my true love was academia, my husband, who is a professor at Wake Forest, encouraged me to get a Ph.D. I interviewed UNC first, to make sure that I would not be too old for their program, and was immediately reassured that age did not matter. During that visit, I met Dr. Lois Boynton, who has been a wonderful mentor to me and is now my dissertation chair. Having a family while in school is also a challenge and is one that I have been documenting on a blog I started last year, I started this blog as a way to learn about new media by actually doing it. On my blog, you’ll also read about the most amazing experiences I have had at UNC, which have made these challenges seem insignificant by comparison. I’ve learned to become a much better teacher because of the pedagogy class taught by Tom Bowers, and I’ve learned about integrated marketing communication from Bob Lauterborn, one of the reasons I chose to attend UNC. Most of all, I have had the opportunity to develop my research and presentation skills by participating in conferences like the AAA.

Spring break is over...

Spring break is over and UNC is out of the NCAA tournament. What a way to return to school. Franklin Street sure was quiet today. Cold, too. I thought spring in NC was supposed to be warm.

This is the final stretch of my last semester of classes. Just a few weeks to go and then I start writing my dissertation. My idea is percolating--just needs refinement. I'm almost there. Time flies.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why don't we make it easy for women to return to school?

I met a woman today at an event for our local chapter of the American Marketing Association, held at SAS. When she found out that I was in school, she mused aloud that it was something she had thought of, but had so many questions about what she would get her advanced degree in and how she would juggle it with her new baby and her career.

It made me wonder why universities make it so hard for people like her to find out more about their programs. She had been actively seeking information, yet didn't know much about what was available to her. There are so many good schools in our area, yet, I was the one telling her about all of them, even though I'm a UNC student. I'm sure she is not the only one thinking about this. There must be someplace for prospective students to get this type of information. I'm going to track it down.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More than one path to success...

Many of my PhD colleagues who are either not married or have not had children, yet, ask me how they are going to "do it all?" They look at our role models in academia, some of whom are divorced or who have opted not to have children, and they wonder if they, too, will have to sacrifice marriage or children to "have it all."

In my old age, I can finally tell them (from some experience with this) that we don't have to accept the defined career paths, as prescribed by others. We can blaze our own trails. If that means we want marriage, children and a career, then we can "have it all."

An editorial in the New York Times today, addresses this issue, saying that educated women are "getting a bum rap" from the press, and I agree. Just because we don't follow an accepted, prescribed or "normal" career path that men follow, does not mean we are not contributing to society in meaningful ways or that we are not able to raise our children and have careers, as well. It just means that we choose differently. We don't need high power status every day of our lives--we need the balance that comes from knowing we have a role in our children's lives and we have a career that fulfills us. We are not "opting out"--we are redefining what it means to be successful.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

No excuse to miss class...

There is an article today in Inside Higher Ed about the "Dead Grandmother" excuse that students give for having to miss class or an exam. I, too, saw many grandmothers die during my adjunct years, wondering if I should feel sad for the student or for myself for believing such a story.

As a doctoral student, I'm sad to say that the excuses don't change much. In one of our first semester courses, the syllabus says that to miss even one class is to flunk the class. As an older student with children, I was quite aware that I might be the one who would have to miss a class due to illness or some other problem--due to my children, so I made darn sure that I never missed one class. Interestingly enough, my other colleagues started slacking off and started to miss class--sleeping in, visiting boyfriends, and even coughs or colds. I don't remember if there were any dead grandmothers, but there were plenty of other excuses that I was grateful I never had to use.

Monday, March 13, 2006

PR Conference was terrific...

I just got back from the 9th Annual International Public Relations Research Conference in Miami where I presented my paper on "Help or Hype" during Hurricane Katrina. There were so many interesting topics and so many interesting people from all over the world.

It was great experience to present in front of professors and practitioners and it was fun to hear what other topics people are working on. I even got to tour the beautiful campus at the University of Miami, where the weather was gorgeous. I'm not sure I could concentrate enough on my work if I could sit in the library and look out the window at palm trees. They even opened up a Starbucks on campus right next to the library. My sister, a new PhD student in the School of Education, said that the library even allows Starbucks in the library--shhhh.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Finding a new church is a new trick, too...

We have been to umpteen new churches since moving to Chapel Hill and Durham from Winston-Salem. When we lived in Chapel Hill last year, we attended Christ United Methodist Church in Southern Village, the neighborhood we were living in. Their choir director, Mr. Roger, was just wonderful with our children.

Since moving to Durham, we wanted to find a church closer to our home, but it is hard. We had the most wonderful church in Winston-Salem, Reynolda Presbyterian, and it is hard to find its duplicate, cousin, or even distant relative.

I have been proud of my children for trying out new Sunday School classes and sitting through new church services. Each one is different, and it is hard to find the right combination of joy, music, welcome as well as the feeling of God's presence.

All of this church hopping has made me realize that this is a new trick that people go through all of the time. Whenever you move to a new place, you have to find a new church. It is hard. I'll remember this when I finally find a church home and am the one welcoming new people.

The Winston-Salem Journal is blogging!

I wandered over to our old hometown paper, the Winston-Salem Journal, recently to look up an article a friend had mentioned, and I wondered if they were blogging, yet.

I'm proud to say that that they are blogging! Way to go, Winston-Salem Journal!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Balancing work with family...

In the NY Times today, there is a quote from a mother who is staying home now after working, to take care of her young children. She sums it up well when she says,

"Most of us thought we would work and have kids, at least that was what we were brought up thinking we would do — no problem," Ms. Watson-Short said. "But really we were kind of duped. None of us realized how hard it is."

This article touches on the struggle I have been dealing with for quite awhile. How do you balance both wanting to work and wanting to raise your children and do both well? I got my MBA before having children, and have been working since I was in high school, so work is an important part of who I am. But, once I had those two incredible children, I realized that my illusion of childcare was not realistic if I was to be an important part of their formative years. I didn't want someone else to care for them when they were sick, or give them the hugs they needed one, or read them their favorite stories.

At the time my children were young, I opted to teach part-time at the college-level, giving up my corporate career. I had been the youngest account manager to call on Pepsi. It was a hard fall for me, but the rewards of being with my children pushed me to find another path. I just knew that there had to be another way than the established and/or accepted path that had been set out by "corporate america".

Several years later, here I am--going back to school to get my PhD. I am one of the older students in my class and the only woman in my class with children, but it works for me. I do my homework as my children do theirs. It is a detour in our family's life from what we all had expected, but it will be worth it in the end. I have shown my children that if the path before them is not the one they want, they can blaze their own trail.

From ma'am to sweetie...

I think I'm up to about 4 ma'ams so far this year. I've been keeping track because it makes me feel old when the young UNC students on campus look at me and say, "here you go, ma'am" or "thank you, ma'am."

The guy who works at Bruegger's Bagels on Franklin Street made my day yesterday--he called me sweetie. Now, some women might get all upset about this, but he was younger than me. As he handed me my bagel he said, "have a nice day, sweetie."

It was all very--sweet.