A Five Year Plan

Quinquennial, adj. and n.: Continuing for, or covering a period of, five years; holding office for five years.

After five years as an assistant and now associate mathematics professor at Victoria College and being our Quality Enhancement Plan director (which is a five year plan all to itself), I’ve recently been reflecting on things one can do inside of five years. Pardon me, I really shouldn’t say ‘one,’ rather, what we can do inside of five years. Let me tell you a story about us. Afterwards, I really hope you’ll share some stories about us, too.

A few years back, a family member of mine had some major medical treatments that included surgery. Thanks to accumulated leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), I was able to fly off to be there, to sit at a hospital bedside and double check prescription dosages, to drive to and from follow ups and treatments, to doll out medications and change up bandages. I was of course very thankful to Victoria College, my department chair, dean, vice president, and human resources department for taking on my lectures, my work, and the paperwork for all of this. As I recall, I sent one email and signed a paper or two and I was traveling away on my mission. Throughout a very long two weeks – two weeks – I never worried if my job was waiting for me. I didn’t worry about if I’d have food on the table. My paycheque stayed the same.

I remember that I left on that journey on a Thursday afternoon. I remember because I taught my last class Thursday, and a student stopped me to ask some questions. Mathematics was challenging for that student, and I commented how I was glad this student was asking questions because that is the way to learn. My student knew I was going to be gone for a bit and took the time to wish me well on my journey. (I hadn’t told my students why I’d be gone. I was old fashioned that way I suppose). Then my student shared a story with me. This student had a child, who was often ill. After the most recent emergency room visit, my student had lost their job because of too many call-ins. (Well, one of their jobs was lost, as it took two part time jobs to keep a roof and food in ready supply). Plus, this student went to school here at VC!

I wanted more for my student. I wanted my student to have what I had. And, I had what I had only because I was both terribly fortunate and highly educated.

I teach, and I believe in higher education because every student who gains and masters essential skills and competencies becomes a very powerful advocate for themselves. The work of Victoria College is the work of making our students so qualified and so skilled that they can’t be fired just because a child is often ill. The benefit of Victoria College is making significant economic impacts in the lives of our students.

I was trying to quantify that impact, and a degree from VC is apparently worth about $10,000 per year (roughly) per student. Of course, that doesn’t count things like FMLA and dismemberment insurance. Now, education isn’t about just financial metrics or even well-being metrics. It’s about incandescent thinking and personal triumphs. It’s about pottery bowls being filled with soup from local area business owners who have clean water because of environmental sanitation filtration techniques that help feed the hungry.

That Thursday, I had a family member waiting. I had only a moment to briefly answer and to listen (although later in an airport I had another moment to answer an email, too). That moment was time well spent, even though right before I was very focused on getting on the road to catch my flight.

So, what are your moments? What stories touched your lives the most? What is most memorable in the last five years? And, what do you dream for us in the next five?

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professorwiley

Matt Wiley is a tenured, associate professor of mathematics with awards in both mathematics education and honour student engagement. He earned an assortment of degrees in computer science, business, and pure mathematics from the University of California and Texas A&M systems. He is the director of quality enhancement at Victoria College, assisting in the development and implementation of a comprehensive assessment program to enhance institutional performance outcomes. A programmer, a published author, a mathematician, and a transformational leader, Matt has always melded his passion for writing with his joy of logical problem solving and data science. From the boardroom to the classroom, he enjoys finding dynamic ways to partner with interdisciplinary and diverse teams to make complex ideas and projects understandable and solvable.

3 comments

  1. That’s a really powerful story — thank you for sharing!

    I’ve been with VC for just shy of two years now. During my first weeks, I was touched by how welcoming the campus was to me (a non-Victorian, non-Texan, new to being college staff). There isn’t one specific moment, but I appreciated that people would say hi to me and remember my name. (Maybe I have low standards? 🙂 )

    I hope that in the next five years we can be even more community-minded. I think we’re getting there, with things like the great campus events that Student Activities puts on, and Lyceum, and the Fine Arts shows (and Empty Bowls!), and our museum exhibits & events, and more. I’d love to see more VC people reaching across departments to support each other. I know that I need to make the effort myself! It’s tough, after a day of work, to stick around for that evening event, or to use a lunch break to do work-socializing outside of your own office. But it makes a big difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our sense of community does make a difference! It is one of the things that attracted me to VC in the first place (and I hear you about starting out non-Victorian, non-Texan). As for socializing, I’m trying to improve; I’ve made a rule for myself that I must attend at least half the Lyceums.

      Like

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