Celebrating my male role models!

For those who follow this blog and my social media channels (kgbphd on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WeChat), you may notice that I love to celebrate women leaders, both students and executives. I have many reasons for this pattern, both personal and professional. The short version is that I am at my best when surrounded by strong women, starting back when I was a child looking up to my Mom.

Recently I have been reflecting on masculinity, my own and what we see in society, and even written and presented about toxic masculinity. It has occurred to me, and many others, that certain forms of masculinity contribute to misguided and harmful uses of power including but absolutely not limited to sexual assault.

While there is much progress that we must make, it also occurred to me that in addition to the amazing women in my life, I have outstanding male mentors and role models whom I should celebrate. Here are a few of them:

  • My father, Bob, who taught me how to commit to family, work, and community, and demonstrated that you don’t have to be either an academic or a practitioner! He did both, and did them well!
  • My high school lacrosse coach, Gary, who showed me how to lead with a gentle and caring voice.
  • My brother Jim, and my partner in crime for Mt Kilimanjaro, Jay, who embody courage to make tough choices about work and life.
  • My high school friends and fraternity brothers, among them Tom, Scott, Dave, Keith, Tish, Stollman, and many others, who helped me understand friendship and support in its varied forms.
  • My health coach, TJ, for challenging me to think holistically about health.
  • My retired colleague and mentor, Tom Rocklin, for proving that kindness and strategic action can and should go hand-in-hand.

Thanks to all the women in my life who lift me up and challenge me to be better, and to these men (and others) who teach me how to navigate this world in courageous ways that celebrate and lift up everyone.

Reflecting on these people has helped me feel better about the world. Who are your mentors and role models? What have they taught you?

Apply to be a Tippie Senator

Every fall the governing undergraduate body, Tippie Senate, picks 2-3 representatives to join their team. While the other Senators are elected, the representatives to be selected this semester help diversity our group to include first year students, and with a recent change in our process, students just admitted to Tippie.

If you are a student who fits into one of these categories, and you are interested in being part of Senate, please consider applying. I’m glad to tell you more, and you can do research on Senate by looking at our Tippie website and Facebook pages.

The application is a simple on-line form. The application closes at 6:00pm on September 16th. You will be notified of the next steps by September 20th.

It’s time to talk about toxic masculinity

I had intended to write about academic success this morning. For example, I wanted to say that students would benefit from attending every class, reading each syllabus carefully, marking important dates and times (including office hours), and seeking support before you need it. These are powerful tactics that will help you do well this semester.

But my mind keeps circling back to Mollie Tibbetts. As we grieve, I worry about politicizing or messaging in a way that does not respect her and her family. In this case, Mollie’s family has indicated that they want us to reach out, make connections within the Hawkeye family, and have important conversations. One of those conversations should be about how men treat women.

I’d like to speak directly to the men of Tippie. The vast majority of you are good souls who understand the importance of kindness and respect. There are others among us who may not understand how threatening it can be when you catcall, follow a woman you don’t know, or approach a woman aggressively to start a conversation. If you do these things, you are being an insensitive jerk. Stop.

And more direct to Mollie’s situation, if you consider yourself deserving a woman’s attention and get angry when she says no or pushes you away, you should completely rethink your relationship with the world. The attention of a woman, or any person for that matter, is earned with respect and kindness, not aggression. If you get angry when you don’t get the response you want, you are being an insensitive jerk. Stop.

I want to challenge our community to hold each other to high standards of respect. If you see someone being an insensitive jerk, say something. And what you say should model respect, so try something as simple as, “Hey, be nice!” or “Please show some respect!”

The Hawkeye family, and the Tippie family within it, is supportive and caring. But there are moments when some of us don’t live up to that ideal. Let’s recommit to being our best selves for Mollie, and for all of us. We deserve a community where everyone is treated with respect, all the time.

It’s Fall 2018 — and a great time to be a Hawkeye!

Whether you just finished an internship (and hopefully signed a full-time offer like returning senior Chase), won a big competition and have yet to start packing (like Anna), got back from an amazing travel experience (and are doing your laundry like Jade), hit the road to travel back to Iowa City (drive safe!), or are in the middle of OnIowa! as a new first year student, WELCOME to another great year at the University of Iowa.

Fall semesters are amazing. Catching up with old friends and meeting new ones is exciting, as is feeling cool weather return and having a fresh start to classes and activities. There is so much to do!

In my usual fashion, now that I have returned to blogging after a summer off, I want to ask a question and offer a little advice. My question is this — what is your favorite thing about fall semester here in Iowa City? And my advice deals with the question — how can we prioritize among all the opportunities here on campus?

Prioritizing begins with getting in touch with what matters most to you! Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What goals and activities are central to my personal values, identity, and well-being? Is it doing well in school, supporting friends, keeping up with your family, mastering new skills, or something else? You can only pick a couple as your “central” goals.
  2. How can I schedule something connected to that goal every single day, regardless of my other obligations?
  3. Who will help me hold myself accountable to staying on track? How will that work?

So, for example, if I decide that doing well in school is critical (because its my first semester and I want to start strong), then I will make sure to put in my calendar every single class, test, office hours for professors, and a few tutoring sessions. And for each class I will set-up a “study buddy,” as well as tell my best friend my plans for doing well. I’ll ask my best friend to chat with me every Sunday about my class schedule for the week. I’d enter that into my calendar too!

In my life, a current priority is physical fitness as I prepare to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro later this year. So every day I do some form of exercise, even if its only 10 minutes of stretching or 20 minutes of walking. Today is was an 8-mil hike.  On a recent travel day, my exercise was a fast walk for 3 miles up and down Terminal B of the Denver airport. It wasn’t my most exciting workout, but I felt proud that I fit it in.

So what you are most looking forward to this semester, how are you going to prioritize what’s important so you can feel proud of what you accomplish? Let me know, and let me or you academic advisor or professors know if we can help in any way.

Survey for all undergrads

We often do marketing surveys, like the one recently for Pat’s Diner, but this survey is totally different and ONLY done every OTHER year. This online survey asks about the student experience, and it is distributed to all Iowa students, and to students at other big research schools. We use the data to help decide how to improve the student experience.

If you are a current undergraduate, please click and answer! Your responses will be anonymous but the overall results will be seen and considered by many of us here on campus. Thank you!


Welcome back!

Its hard to call this “spring semester” when it was 0 degrees this morning, but it is indeed, technically, spring semester. And before you know it, it will be May and some of you will be graduating, others headings off for internships or study abroad. It all happens so quickly.

For that reason, I encourage you to be thoughtful about how you use your time over the next 2-3 weeks. In these next few weeks you will set patterns that become habits that will determine how well you do this semester. Make smart and healthy choices about getting to class, finishing work on time, eating healthy, sleeping well, and getting exercise, and AMAZING things will happen for you. And make sure to connect with friends and professors and advisers who will help you. Have you looked at your degree audit recently or met with an adviser or tutor? Make plans to do that now, so you can verify that you are on the right track.

Welcome back, and happy first week of classes. Let’s see what amazing things we can accomplish together!

End of semester tips

I can’t believe it is the last day of class! Fall semester is winding down. To all students, I hope classes went well and you are feeling on top of things as you finish projects and papers and study for exams.

Upper-level students have this down to a science, but it is worth repeating for others. Here are a few tips at the end of the semester:

  1. Sleep.  You need multiple hours of sleep to form memories and be able to think clearly. Plan  your study (and project) time realistically to include significant periods of sleep (at least 3-hour blocks, preferably longer).

2. Eat and drink. With this cold, the heat is on constantly and is very drying. Make sure to drink lots of water, and eat healthy protein and fats. These will give you longer-lasting energy than any carbohydrate. You should not try to get by on a diet of XXTRA Flaming Hot Crunchy Cheetos and Mt. Dew.

3. Move. Walk briskly between classes and hit the gym for even 20 minutes if you can. Blood flow helps improve the clarify of your thinking and reduces stress.

4. Seek guidance. If you have questions or are feeling stressed, ask for help! There are hundreds of people on this campus standing by ready to help. Contact me if you aren’t sure WHO you should contact.


Best wishes for finals and for a fantastic winter holiday. May the season bring you all the joy you could wish for and more!

All students: Please answer this survey!

The university is conducted a campus-wide safety survey focused on sexual misconduct. The information gathered from this survey will be used to inform the UI Anti-Violence Plan (https://osmrc.uiowa.edu/anti-violence-coalition/anti-violence-plan) and support our ongoing efforts to address sexual misconduct on campus and in our community.

The university conducted the first Speak Out Iowa survey in 2015, and we hope to get your opinion and experiences included in this year’s data. To learn more about the survey please visit the website https://speakout.uiowa.edu/.

Recognize a great faculty member!

The President and Provost Teaching Award is highest level of achievement in teaching given at the University of Iowa. It is distinct from the Tippie Collegiate Teaching Award, and has a separate nomination process that occurs each fall.

I encourage you to nominate outstanding faculty with sustained records of teaching excellence and commitment to student learning. The Council on Teaching suggests that nominees possess the following qualities: “previously been recognized for excellence in teaching; are committed to spending time with students in and out of class; contribute to career success; are involved in curriculum development or enhancement; and create and use teaching materials suitable for a variety of learning styles.” A full list of criteria can be found at: http://apps.biz.uiowa.edu/faculty-staff/teachingaward/criteria.pdf.

The nomination process is quite easy – just a quick click on the link below and then write a few lines about why the faculty member is great. The Dean’s Office, in consultation with the DEOs, will sort through the nominations to select those that we feel are most meritorious to move forward. Please nominate through this website no later than November 1: https://apps.biz.uiowa.edu/faculty-staff/TeachingAward. Nominees will be informed, and faculty always appreciate it when a student thinks of them to write even a short nomination. Thank you!