Filming on Vocation: Doug Calisch [CS]

SYNOPSIS: Doctor Calisch delivers tons of insights into the life and development of an artist, a professor, and a campus leader. Watch the whole video for lots of little pieces of advice, and hear about the kind of exemplar who inspires him.


CS: What do you do here?

0:55 Dr. Calisch – So I’ve been at Wabash 32 years, teaching in my 32nd year, I’m in the art department. For about 15 of those years I’ve been the chair of the department, kind of a middle-level administrative position. The heart of the job is the teaching, this is Wabash College, teaching is a priority. I spend a majority of my time either in class or preparing for class. I teach 3D design, I teach sculpture, I teach ceramics, and I teach photography. Occasionally I teach a freshman tutorial or help with C&T, which is not here anymore, but I had a role there for a little while. The piece of being a teacher for me that is the most important is the roll of collaborator. I feel like my job as a teacher is to listen and to work with students on their ideas, so my role is to react to what they present as opposed to telling them what to present. So any give class I present or set up a scenario that pulls students to think creatively, that asks them to think a little bit outside their comfort zone or outside the norm. Then I work with those creative ideas with the students in order to shape projects, shape their final product, and I’ve done that for a long time, I like it. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know our student body and to see what they’ve got inside, kind of behind the scenes.

CS: How does the administrative work fit in with your life?
6:00 – Yes, it’s extra, but if you are doing it well I think it is an extension. A helpful extension of what you’re already doing. I take this approach of treating these different aspects in my life more holistically, so that they influence one another so something I may be doing in the studio will become a really good teaching lesson in the class, may key into some administrative decision that has to be made. We in the art department are in the process of thinking about restructuring our curriculum just a little bit and so I bring experiences from the classroom, from the studio, from what I know being a professional artist and try to come up with administrative decisions that are helped by those other roles.

CS: Any tips for art students in particular?

11:25 – For art majors, I think it’s really important that they’re willing to be risk takers

CS: Do you have any suggestions for students in general?
13:08 – Too many students come and think that school is just a four-year stop that helps them line up a high-paying job. They do curriculums that they are not particularly interested in because they think it’s the right curriculum to get that job. I tell students follow your passion, and maybe it’s a cliché, maybe that’s what people think all artists say, but I think the four years in college is really important for students to develop and understand who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, what they’re good at, what they’re not good at. All that information together will help inform them about what the next step is.


Filming on Vocation: Julie Olsen


Learn about Julie Olsen’s work as both Registrar and Associate Dean of the College. Hear advice for branching out trying something off-the-wall during your time at Wabash.


Julie Olsen: Associate Dean of the College

0:30 Julie Olsen: I am the Registrar of the college, which entails the normal record keeping part of the academic world. I am also the Associate Dean of the college, where I deal with hiring, safety issues, and legal compliance cases as well.

2:20 When are we going digital with class registration?

There is nothing on the table at this point. I suspect at some point that it will happen.  Right now it is actually more convenient for students to be coming through our office because we do a lot of assisting and advising when people come through our office.  When students come through our office and they are not able to get the classes that they want, we are able to help them find other courses that they need.

3:20 What are some of the skills and talents you have to draw on?

I am an administrator and what that means to me is facilitating processes and making things go, trying to keep them smooth, efficient, and effective for  people.  That means you are always looking ahead and trying to understand how things could work and how they could work better.  I also figure out how to work with people and different kinds of people and what it would take to help them do their jobs better.

4:20 How did you end up in your dual role that you are in now?

Julie Olsen: I was a chemist by training and I had taught off and on at the college.  In the mid 1990’s when Don Herring became Dean of the College he came over and asked if I would work with him as an assistant to the dean of the college.  There had not been any support staff in that office before and we initially agreed that I could do that.  Our initial agreement was that I could resign from the position after a year or he could ask me to the leave the position after a year, but we never got to that point.  I went to the Dean’s office in 1993.  One of my first jobs was to put in place a monitoring report and assessment plan and to get it passed for accreditation.  Another big task I took on during that time was beginning to co-chair the safety committee, which I still do.  I looked at a lot of issues like dealing with blood borne pathogens, organizing chemical hygiene plans, and emergency plans.  The college is legally required to have a number of safety plans in place, so I have gone about establishing a lot.  I also began to assist the dean with the budgeting process.  Under the dean of the college there are several hundred budgets  and we worked our way through organizing those.  We also set hiring procedures in place for hiring faculty.  There had not been any written guidelines up to that point and we put those in place. I became registrar in 1998 after the current registrar retired, so that was kind of added to my mix of responsibilities.

6:55 What do you miss about teaching?

Julie Olsen: I have found that I have liked the administration much more.  I had never imagined I would do that kind of work.  It wasn’t something that occurred to me that I would enjoy.  But there is a lot of the same kind of figuring how to do things and making things work that is also involved in teaching. Up until 5 or 6 years ago I still had a research lab going and had students working for me, so I wasn’t completely removed from teaching either.

8:12 What advice do you have for current students?

Julie Olsen: Find something you really like and imagine that you could see yourself doing for a long time.  Life is too short to put yourself in a position to have to do things you don’t like.  Find something that really appeals to you and is intellectually satisfying to you. While you are here in college this is probably your last chance to do some unusual things, either activities or course work that you are never really going to have an opportunity to access again, so go find some of that strange stuff and do it.  You can make the most of your time here by looking broadly at what’s available and sampling it.

9:10 What advice do you have for students who want to end up in administrative work?

Julie Olsen:  A student interested in administrative work will probably have to earn a PHD.  People interested in a Dean’s position will typically have earned their PHD, taught for a while, and gradually worked their way over to administrative positions.  On the registrars side you see two types of people in those positions.  Some have come through an academic/ faculty role into the registrar’s position.  While, others that have come up by working their way through a registrar’s office and have eventually come up to being a registrar.

12:20 When there is more bad than good what is your inspiration?

In the long run, being able to facilitate things and make things happen for the good.  You work your way through difficult times and you figure out how to straighten things out and working with people to do that is satisfying.  That’s a good thing to be doing.

13:12 What inspires you?

I don’t know if there is something that really inspires me, but sometimes when I watch old Star Treks and think about command structure, I think I would like to be Captain Kirk.

14:06 What’s one thing every Wabash student should do?

Pick one really off the wall course that you really wouldn’t imagine yourself normally doing and go in and try it.


Filming on Vocation — Joe Haklin [CS]


Watch the inimitable Joe Haklin talk about his work, his development, and how Wabash men can build a body of experience useful for their entire lives.

Joe Haklin Highlights

0:20 Joe Haklin: It’s my charge to administer 10 intercollegiate varsity sports programs here at Wabash in addition to being the chair of the wellness committee here, the director of campus wellness, I would say that 75% of my time is spent on the athletics side and 25% on the wellness side, but we’ll see how that plays itself out over the years. So far in my first seven months here, that’s the way it’s gone. All the athletic teams, their coaching staffs, the athletic training staff, the athletic support staff such as the equipment manager and our administrative assistant report to the athletic director here and I’ve got to sort of lead the way to make sure that we’re moving in the right direction in all those sports and serving the student athletes of Wabash in a positive way so that their experience here is both educational and enjoyable.

3:35 JH: In preparation for athletic administration, work on your communication skills. The written skills are very important to put down on paper, via a simple email, or memos, or reports to be able to get across an idea or an argument in a concise, clearly stated manner in a skill that is really going to do you well.

7:10 JH: Don’t sit in your dorm room and expect that you’re getting yourself ready to be an athletic administrator. You’ve got to get out there and gain some experience leading people.

7:53JH: You’ve got to plan. If you don’t plan your weeks, your days, your months, you get in a bind. You get behind on things.

8:38 JH: Establish healthy routines in your life, so that you know you’re getting your academic of life taken care of, as well as meeting your athletic goals.

9:32 JH: Put yourself in leadership roles as much as you can. Try to rise to the level of a leadership role. It’s just like anything else.  How do you get to be a better baseball player? How do you get to be a better rower? A runner? It’s by doing it over and over and over again and trying to learn from your past experiences. If you don’t have a body of past experiences, then you get into your adult life, and you don’t have much to fall back on.


Filming on Vocation: Dean Gary Phillips

In the Filming on Vocation seriesmembers 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.


Filming on Vocation Series: President White

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.


We sat down with Patrick White to discuss his work as campus president. Hear his take on the work, on the values and skills necessary for the job, and how you can grow personally and professionally by being confident and remaining open to opportunities as they present themselves.

Transcript with Highlights:

James Jeffries: President White, thank you very much for meeting with Career Services.

President White: My pleasure.

James Jeffries: You have a particularly interesting job, and of course a very high profile job that we see in front of us all the time. But we don’t see everything that goes on behind the scenes; we don’t see what it took to get to your position. We don’t see the kinds of things that frustrate you sometimes, or really bring you alive to the position.  So we would like to talk to you a little bit about those kinds of things, and also what advice you really have for students who are looking into their futures. So first off could you just describe your work as a president, and what do you see as your major responsibilities.

President White: Well the interesting thing is that, why should I be laughing when I get asked that question in part because a president, particularly the president of a small college, covers an entire spectrum of activities. If you’re president of a large university you’re pretty much the head of a corporate structure, like a large company. At a small college you’re connected to students, you’re connected to faculty; you’re connected to alumni. Most people think it’s about raising money that it’s about a fundraising job. My friends who are not in the business say well Pat you must be raising money all the time.” That’s an important part of it; you have to be out there raising money and friends. But a lot of it is really running the college, with a collaboration of my direct reports, the deans and the CFO, and everybody else at the institution. So there are a lot of questions and problems and issues that come right to the president at a small college like Wabash. And that’s both a delight and would drive some people crazy.

James Jeffries: Okay so, of course you made the transition from being a professor of English, right? Into these administrative roles, and eventually into this presidency. What was the biggest surprise?

President White: I think the biggest surprise was how much you don’t have control over. One of the beautiful things about being a professor is essentially in your class you have a lot of control. I mean, students obviously shape that class, but in a large degree as a professor you have control over what happens that particular day. You set up the syllabus. In my job there is less control. One of the reasons I got into the administrative side of things, was at the same time was at the same time; you had an opportunity to influence an entire institution, or have some effect on an entire institution. And that’s very exciting, but it’s very different. It’s a question of scale. One is very focused, student centered, the other is the entire institution. Whether you’re a dean or a college president.

James Jeffries: So if you were to key in on three or four of the most vital skills for your work, what would they be and how did you go about developing them?

President White: That’s a good question. I think you have to have patience; you have to have an ability to imagine the other. That’s essentially a rhetorical position, you have to think, what is the audience going to think about? What questions people are going to have? That’s very very important. So patience, the ability to imagine. Imagine not only an audience, but also imagine solutions to the problems. And then to gain the collaboration of other people. So there is a collaborative skill that is very important in being in either being a president or a dean. Because there is very little, that one can do alone in those positions, you have to, especially small colleges; there are not a lot of resources, and you have to find people who will be able to collaborate with you and share your vision, and share your excitement. So the fourth thing I would say that you have to be able to inspire people to get excited. Not only about what you want to do, that’s kind of a good cheerleading aspect that I think all presidents should be good at, but they have to be excited about what they are doing so that they feel that their work is valuable. It’s very important.

James Jeffries: So opening this up a little bit, of course you come in contact with a lot of students who are going in all kinds of different directions. What do you say to the student who hasn’t figured it out yet? Who doesn’t know what they want to do.

President White: Be patient and recognize that they may have figured out what they want to do, they just haven’t figured out how they are going to get paid for it. And I think that is something that they should not sell themselves short about, we have a number of students as you know, at Wabash who are majoring in what they are passionate about, interested in, and the job will come, the position will come. But they have to begin to think about themselves as marketing, the skills, the passions and the habit of thought and inspiration for their thought that they have. They also have to recognize that a lot of people, they think that everybody can do what they can do. That’s not the case. Many of our students at Wabash have passions and energies and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, to quote the Superman of the 1950’s. And I think that they have to begin recognize that and they see that when they are all out in the market place, as I think you know.

James Jeffries: Okay, well let’s close with some influences, what would you point to as an influential person to look at, a model, a great book, great movie, something that you think students could get a lot from.

President White: I think for me it’s simply to be awake to the possibilities that they see around you. And don’t say oh I could never do that. Say I could do that position, I could do that work. I say to students all the time they might be president one day, if not here then somewhere else. I mean the first person who told me Pat you’d make a great dean I said are you out of your mind? Who would want to do that? When they said Pat why don’t you apply for the presidency at Wabash I said are you crazy. I’m not going to be able to that work. I think don’t sell yourself short. And I would simply say look at the movies and the books and continue to imagine yourself in the roles that inspire you.