In the Filming on Vocation series, members of our Wabash campus community offer their insights and advice in an interview with Career Services. We focus on their work, their professional development, and on their general advice for Wabash men. We post the interview, a synopsis, and a transcript with highlights.
Synopsis: Dean Phillips shares from his wealth of experience in higher education and more. (Did you know that he once owned a restaurant?) Watch the interview and check out our highlights to learn more about the role of Dean of the College, the skills and values necessary to promote education at Wabash, and advice for the student still searching for what to do.
Gary Phillips: My responsibility as dean is to oversee, manage, help plan, help implement, and guide the academic side of the house, the curriculum, the faculty work, that leads to student classroom experience and out of classroom experience.
GP: At Wabash, the Deans office is where many of these tasks that would be found in a different institutional setting under someone who would be working one level above me and beneath the president would be found.
GP: The task of being a Dean is really grounded in what you believe to be the mission of an institution. And the institutional purpose, we know what the mission of Wabash is. That’s what grounds everything, and it is what grounds me.
GP: I owned and ran a restaurant for three and a half years. When you flip burgers and make pizza, you have to figure out how to work with people…that experience of trying to balance the budget, have fifty five employees and make an institutional difference in the life of the community is an important factor.
GP: If I can enable my colleges to see the work that their work is better, then that’s another measure of my success.
GP: Can you help them ask the right questions? It is important to have answers, but it is even more important to have the right questions. The measure of success of somebody in my role, is can I marshal among my colleges, student, faculty and staff, the capacity to think carefully about complex issues, running an institution and living in an institution is a complex thing, not simple, and can I help articulate those questions and help those around me articulate their own questions to find a way forward.
GP: To teach in a classroom is a sober and important job. It is a life commitment, not just a way to draw to paycheck in my view.
GP: The Wabash student, who is thinking about a job in a college, or in a classroom. You start right with the most practical thing. Take a class, work with a professor, do an immersion experience, do an internship, engage an alumnus, talk with a parent. Do something concrete, practical and real that moves you from your normal zone of comfort, to a place where you are compelled to, think of, engage with and contemplate something that you hadn’t before.
James Jeffries: Lets close with maybe a big inspiration for you, do you have a particular book or a film, a model person that exemplifies a lot of the virtues you have been talking about?
GP: Yeah and its Neo in the Matrix. Why the Matrix? The Matrix is emblematic of all the things I have been talking about, that is, you got to figure out what the question is…it is the articulation of those deep driving questions that bring you to want to do something with your life that you may spend some time desiring to not have to worry about, because its not always fun to have to worry and to think. Thinking can be hard, so why would you want to do that? Well, because everything counts, and there is a lot hanging in the balance.
GP: You have to commit yourself on a day by day basis to something that is larger than yourself.