Posted by on 8/27/2013
A new year begins
Dear faculty, staff, and students,
Welcome to my new blog.
I know you all get plenty of email already. But I’ve started this blog as a way to communicate with all of you more effectively.
I want to let you know about things going on in the University that you might not know about through other channels. I want to celebrate achievements, small and large, that you might not hear about otherwise.
So if you know about something good that’s happened somewhere on campus, please let me know so I can share it with everyone.
It’s always exciting when new students arrive — people who have come from all over the world and are excited about this new phase in their lives.
I am always inspired to meet with them and am always moved to realize that they have entrusted us with their education — and their evolution.
The numbers are not quite final, but we have about 200 new students altogether — 147 from the US and 51 international.
We are expecting another 50 new students in the Computer Professionals (Compro) October entry.
With every new student entry, I make it a point to teach the Transcendental Meditation technique to some of them. Last week I taught three students in the Accounting MBA program, one each from India, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. It’s always impressive to me to see that whatever a person’s age, nationality, or background, the technique works.
Thank you to Dean of Admissions Brad Mylett and the whole Admissions team, as well as Financial Director Bill Christensen and his team, for all their hard work in bringing these students to us.
New David Lynch MA in Film – surge of student and faculty interest
The past couple of weeks have been magical for this new program, led by faculty members Stuart Tanner and Gurdy Leete.
Even with just a “soft launch” and not taking advantage of any press opportunities, we received more than 800 inquiries to the program in just two weeks. We have enrolled about 20 students, all of them outstanding.
The program has also received significant outside financial support for student scholarships, to enable the very best students to attend.
A donor also created a competition for the prospective students — where the grand prize winner would receive a full tuition scholarship and five runners-up would receive $5,000 each in cash to be applied to their film projects during the program. Prospective students had to submit a 3-5-minute video they had created — and 60 did so. The faculty reviewed the videos (over two very full days) and sent the top six to David Lynch, who looked at them and chose the winner. David was pleased with the quality of students’ work and wanted to be sure each of the students received his feedback.
The grand prize winner was Kinga Kulcsar, from Budapest, Hungary. Click here to see her video. And click here to see a video made by Amine Kouider, our Media and Communications graduate who went to work for the David Lynch Foundation, making documentaries around the world, and who then went to TTC. The video describes his experiences in both areas.
And week after week for the past several months, the Media and Communications department has been contacted by top people in the entertainment industry — almost all of them Transcendental Meditation participants — who have heard about the program and want to come and help teach in it, while also visiting the University and the community.
These are people who really get the mission of the program and want to be part of helping transform the entertainment industry to become more positive and life-nourishing.
The program will be based in Headley Hall, in Maharishi Vedic City, where it turns out that we have just the right amount of space available.
Given the surge of student interest, we’re thinking about a January entry for a new group of students. We believe we can handle two entries per year with 25 students each.
See the new website for the program.
Congratulations to Professors Stuart Tanner and Gurdy Leete for this achievement, and thank you to Noah Buntain, Sasha Parmasad, and the other staff in the department who have worked so hard to make this happen.
Pictured below: Stuart Tanner and Gurdy Leete with the new students in the David Lynch MA in Film.
Online suggestion box – earn a $40 gift certificate at the Store or Market
Do you have an idea for how we can make something better? Streamline a process? Eliminate a hassle? Improve customer service? Reduce costs? Increase revenue?
Now we have a systematic way to do that. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll look closely at every suggestion. Each month, we will choose the best and award that person a $40 gift certificate at the Store or the Market, and I’ll let everyone know through this blog.
Placing students in internships – Diana Krystofiak
Artisanal cheese-making on a farm in Texas . . . building a home with Habitat for Humanity in Colorado . . . doing applied soil ecology work at the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania . . . helping set up a non-profit organization in Costa Rica — these are just a few of the 30 internships that Diana Krystofiak helped organize for Sustainable Living students over this past year.
Internships can be an incredible learning experience for students — and an important steppingstone to finding employment when they graduate.
All Sustainable Living students are required to do an internship of at least 4 credits (they may take as many as 16 credits of internship). They are required to keep a blog and write a summative paper while meeting the internship provider’s requirements.
“We strive for placements that are diverse, challenging, and relevant,” Diana says. “My goal is to match each intern with a mentor or expert in his or her field who truly cares about helping students meet their career goals. Students are graded at the end of their internship by me and by their internship provider, but most important, they receive valuable feedback that they can apply to their next internship or a job after graduation.”
Internships can be the most memorable parts of students’ education.
“I often receive emails from students telling me that their internships were the most valuable part of their degree program. I love receiving comments like ‘Awesome,’ ‘I never expected to learn as much as I did,’ and ‘They want to hire me after graduation!’”
This fall Diana will teach a career strategies class for SL students and others interested in careers in sustainability.
For more about Diana’s background in sustainability and her work in the SL department, click here and scroll down to Diana Krystofiak.
Thank you, Diana, for all the work you do in helping organize these transformative experiences for our students.
Golden Dome Market in the New York Times
On August 15, our own Golden Dome Market was written up in the New York Times, in an article entitled “Eating in Iowa: Farm-Fresh, Fried and Frugal.” Here is an excerpt:
"Back to lean and green: Fairfield, home to the Maharishi University of Management, which calls itself a “home of consciousness-based education,” has more than its share of vegetarian cafeterias and restaurants. I went to the Golden Dome Market and Cafe, near (but alas, not in) the campus’s two golden domes. The vegetarian buffet ($7.50 a pound) yielded some saag paneer, a bean taco loaded with vegetables, some tasty artichoke lasagna and a piece of fresh peach blueberry pie."
Congratulations to Donna Schechtman for her creative leadership of the cafe and work in creating the menus and training the staff, as well as to Harry Bright, Andy Cozzens, and all the staff at the Market for providing such a great and convenient store for all of us.
Improving our customer service
I thought it would be valuable for MUM departments that interact with the general public to think together about how to improve customer service — to hear and share best practices.
So last spring HR Director Stan Lamothe brought together the Human Resource Office, the Enrollment Center, the Mailroom, Housing, the Library, and Student Life to do this.
First the department heads met and came up with a plan built around the following questions:
- Who are our customers? Who do we serve?
- What are the main services we provide?
- What is most important to our customers
- How can we best meet our customers’ needs?
- How can we eliminate uncomfortable situations that may arise?
Then they had a four-session training module led by local businessperson and Governor Michael Blitz, who has long experience in this area.
With Michael, the theme was: What is customer service? What is world-class customer service? And how can we make our own service world class?
“World-class customer service means more than simply satisfying the customers’ desires," Stan said. "It means satisfying their unexpressed needs. This means surpassing their expectations and delighting them. After these sessions, everyone felt committed to achieving this level of customer service.”
What is the single most important factor? “The number one finding in customer service is that employees tend to treat their customers in the same way they are treated by their manager,” Stan said. “So the whole process puts a lot of responsibility back on the manager.”
The group’s task now is to identify metrics for measuring the quality of customer service. Going forward, they will continue meeting together once each semester to stay connected, share experiences, and sustain their focus on continuous improvement.
Thank you to Stan Lamothe for helping organize this, to Michael Blitz for teaching, and to all these departments for their work in improving customer service.
How to conduct an MUM room inspection – now on Youtube
Thank you to to Alvaro Monasterio, Associate Director of Residential Life, on the Youtube video he made with with Nathan Gerdes and Charles Besick, from Facilities Management, for training Residence Directors on how to inspect rooms after students vacate them. This video makes training more systematic, and less time consuming — do less and accomplish more.
This was one of the outcomes of the Lean process centered around housing that involved our staff from Housing, Student Life, and Facilities Management.
Here is what Nathan had to say about his experience with the Lean process last spring:
To be completely honest, I was skeptical about taking part in the LEAN meetings. I hadn’t seen much willingness to change and improve when it comes to accountability for personal actions and preparedness for the future. . . .
However I was impressed with the good results from the LEAN meetings. The follow-through from Student Life and the Housing office has been fantastic. The open and out-of-the-box thinking during the LEAN meetings was a refreshing change in attitude that led to positive results for the Facilities department, the Housing department, and other departments that interface with Facilities.
The leaders of the LEAN meetings were fun and positive. Kathy Brooks and Diana Rivera were great leaders and encouraged new ideas and sharing of new thoughts. . . .
The current process that has been put in place for room inspections, room maintenance, room cleaning, and room arrivals/departures is light years ahead of the old process. It is a vastly improved procedure that greatly reduces the snags and time wasting problems that were built into the old system.
Another benefit of the LEAN meetings is that students are being held more accountable for their actions and behavior when it comes to their treatment of the dorm buildings and furniture. The check-in and check-out procedure holds students accountable for missing and damaged university property.
This, in conjunction with fining students who blatantly damage University property, has helped the facilities department as we now have more rooms that are in good condition when the residents move out. All of this helps us to save time and money so that our limited finances can be used for greater campus improvements.
The LEAN meeting and the positive outcome we have achieved together is moving the facilities department forward with our goal of making MUM a world class facility.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this process — Leslie Harris, Nathan Gerdes, Charles Besick, Alvaro Monasterio, Anthony Antimuro, and Dave Streid — and to Kathy Brooks and Diana Rivera, two of our trained Lean Facilitators, for guiding the process.
Did you know that 2013 is . . .
- the 50th anniversary of the first publication of Maharishi's classic book Science of Being and Art of Living.
- the 40th anniversary of Maharishi University of Management first opening its doors to students (in a rented motel complex in Santa Barbara). We moved here to Fairfield the following year.
- the 30th anniversary of the Taste of Utopia Assembly. This assembly brought 8,000 Yogic Flyers from around the world together on our campus to create a wave of peace, harmony, and good will all over the world. In the three weeks prior to this assembly we built the Recreation Center, Utopia Hall, and Utopia Park — an amazing achievement.
- the 20th anniversary of the first national demonstration project on the Maharishi Effect, the Group for a Government Assembly in Washington DC led by Dr. John Hagelin. This assembly, the most highly public demonstration of the Maharishi Effect ever, reduced violent crime in our nation's capital by 23% — just as predicted in advance.
- the 10th anniversary of the start of the world's first academic program in Sustainable Living.
Thank you to everyone for helping make this the fantastic, enlightened community that we all are so fortunate to be part of.
JAI GURU DEV