Jane Austen & Illness

Whenever I do not feel well, as has been the case for the last couple weeks, I stay home and read Jane Austen.

This is not a natural behaviour of mine; time was, I’d have been as guilty of presenteeism as the next person. Certainly that would be the nurtured response – stiff upper lip and all.

However, while sitting my MBA, I realised the real economic impact of workplace illness – particularly when one’s illness is contagious. If patient zero infects two more, who each infect another two, we’re up to 7 employees ill! It needn’t take long at all to get quite bad.

So, these days, I stay home and read Jane Austen, which is spending time with a set of familiar paper-friends who never catch my cold. Last week, while reading Jane Austen, I thought on her penchant for titles, and of our college, and of an email I got recently.

You see, this email defined persuasion as “the art of creating commitment to the vision rather than mere compliance.” What is our vision?

Our Community, Our College: Improving Lives, Strengthening Communities

  • Empowering each student to achieve excellence in an environment that cultivates personal relationships among students, faculty, and staff.

  • Being the catalyst for educational attainment, economic growth, and cultural enrichment in partnership with business, industry, community groups, and all levels of education.

A fairly grand vision, yes? Like most visions, ours is far-reaching and will take all of us a fair bit of time to achieve. Taking care of ourselves is important for these long-term goals. It doesn’t even have to mean taking sick days and reading Austen, it might be as simple as a walk through a nice field now and then.

How do you take care of yourself? How do you plan to win a marathon in a world sometimes focused on sprints?



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.

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