Crunch Time To Dos...

Rhinos, Dots and Purple Crayons: Crunched between Perception and Reality  

by Suzette....

Last spring I received an invitation from a colleague to speak at a campus wide event for women at my university. The office of student affairs had been organizing these monthly events under the title “THRIVE” as a way to engage and encourage female members of the staff from across campus. I read the email invitation and sighed at the request: to share my secrets for thriving. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not not thriving, but I don’t always feel like I am, or have been, the best example of a flourishing woman. It seemed disingenuous to speak to others about my “secrets” for success when I wasn’t sure I had any.

But of course, I respect my friend and colleague – and the women of my campus – so I decided to accept. I then spent the next four weeks stewing about how I was going to pull this off. I knew I couldn’t just tell part of a story and shed light only on those aspects of my life and career that others have seen as shining, thriving examples. But on the other hand, I was rather nervous about shedding light on the less inspirational examples.

Since beginning the proFmagazine project, I have become more and more comfortable with being vulnerable – with sharing my personal narrative and uncovering the experiences that have been difficult and were previously unknown by others. I have shared, for example, my struggles with infertility and experience with repeat miscarriages. I have shared the rather embarrassing story of how I began my academic career largely because of a college boyfriend that looked like a Bolshevik. And I have shared my personal pain after the loss of a student and my process of healing in the heat. But walking into that room back in April to share my story for “THRIVE” was an even tougher thing to do. This was the time when perception would meet truth, and I would inevitably feel the crunch.

I decided to focus my talk on this juxtaposition between surface impressions – of a successful academic and college dean – and my personal reality, including my background. I even dressed down for the occasion, wearing casual clothes (my favorite jeans and sneakers) and beginning the discussion by stating that I was there as a woman, friend, and colleague, rather than an academic and dean. I was there as a professional woman, yes – but one that didn’t necessarily have all (or even many of) the answers. 

Cars Getting Crunched on Campus...and Off
by Laura
Working from home, as I do at least one day a week, often means I’m first in my house to grab those countless Amazon deliveries via UPS. One such Thursday, a really hot September day, I was breaking for lunch when the doorbell rang. My first thought, based on the amount of barking coming from my dog Luna, was that there was a delivery. Maybe it would be the book I ordered, just in time to enjoy with my sandwich!

I opened the door, and, indeed, there stood a sweaty, upset UPS driver, but he had no delivery. Instead he asked, “Is that your car?”

All I could see was the neighbor’s car parked across the street, so I said no.

“I meant this one,” he replied. He stepped aside to reveal my newly acquired, cute-as-a-button Toyota Echo. Up on the curb. Smashed. Crunched.

Okay, so it could be worse. No one was hurt, and I ended up doing fairly well with the insurance settlement. But the irony that my car would be destroyed when I was working from home and not on campus was not lost on me. When parked on campus, I have come to expect that our automobiles will acquire bumps and bruises—whether we park in the faculty parking lot or among hundreds of young drivers. Between my husband’s campus and my own, and with my two daughters parking in their high school lots, our family cars have been hit, scraped, and crunched.

With the fall semester upon us, many of us will be parking on campus again, where we’ll be mingling with 18-year-old drivers and distracted parents on move-in day, among others. It is wise to review the basic guidelines in case you hit a parked car or have your car hit (as I did, courtesy of UPS), and this overview is quite helpful. Thinking no one will notice the damage you’ve done? Think again. If you hit another car, you are required by law to either stay or leave a note, and as reminds us, there are an “estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the U.S.” Fleeing a parking mishap could potentially lead to great expenses or even jail time. If you return to your car and find damage, it is worth calling the campus police to have a record of the incident. This will help with filing a claim or finding the culprit. 


  Crunching Numbers for a Living: proFile of Alisa Hicklin Fryar
By Suzette....
I may be a longtime academic (and political scientist, no less), but I am not a numbers cruncher. Hand me a table with results from any regression analysis, and I immediately break out in a cold sweat, reliving my nightmares of statistics classes in graduate school. Quantitative work just isn’t my thing, but I do admire it. I appreciate the scholars dedicated to this kind of number crunching and analysis – scholars like Alisa Hicklin Fryar, associate professor of political science and specialist in higher education policy. Her passion for her work is contagious enough to even make me want to grab some data and a spreadsheet, and her heartfelt attention to her students is even more inspirational.

I spoke with Alisa recently about her love of data, her work-life balance, and her thoughts on mentoring, among other interesting topics. I hope you enjoy our conversation, and I bet you too will come away enthused and motivated, no matter what you do or study!

Could you tell us a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up, where did you go to school, what did you study and why?

I grew up in Southeast Texas, basically in the swamps, where the culture is a pretty strong mix of Texas and Louisiana. I attended a fairly rural public school, and after graduating high school, went straight to the local regional college, Lamar University. I always thought I would go into the "family business" and be a K12 teacher like my mom, aunts, sister, cousins, and uncle have been. I enjoyed speech and debate in high school and that led to my majoring in political science and minoring in math. The math minor seemed like it would give me some options (and I was worried that it would be hard to find a job to teach government). 

But, like many college students, my plans changed. I became completely enamored with universities. I genuinely love higher education, and I am still completely captivated by campus life, the diversity of students, the histories of public institutions, why we all do what we do, and everything else.

And that was also when I turned into a bit of a number cruncher. We had to take two statistics classes for the political science major, and in one class, the professor gave us a database with the salaries of all of our faculty and tasked us with looking for evidence of inequities. I couldn't believe that we could even have access to those things! 

Cap'n Crunch Fried Chicken
by Jacque

I first tasted this chicken at the Fox River Brewing Company in Appleton, Wisconsin in 2003ish. I don't even know why I tried it. It sounds kind of gimmicky, too sweet and gross. But I did....and I immediately went home and recreated the recipe because it was so good.

I've been crunched for time this week, so I didn't have a chance to create my recipe for you, but here is the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Cap'n Crunch Fried Chicken

Really...try it. Your kids will love it an you will too!

Crunch Time Playlist
by YOU!

Thank you for all of your answers - here is a sampling of the responses to our latest proFasks - please keep your comments coming...we love to hear from you!

Do you use the campus gym?

I do not use the campus gym because I'm a non-traditional student, and I feel kind of awkward with all the 18-20 year olds.


No, because I don't want to be working out and sweaty in front of students!

-Mary Beth

Yes. I work at a small liberal arts college where the gym is free. It wasn't hard to get over the potential embarrassment of seeing students when the price was so right. For the most part when I see my students at the gym, they just wave at me and then ignore me. I haven't had the weird experiences of students trying to get office hour help while I'm on the elliptical that some other profs describe.


Yes. It's convenient to go before work, get ready there, and then start my day. I also like seeing other staff, faculty, and students there.


I don't use the gym at University unless classes are offered at the end of the day so I don't have to shower at the University and go back and teach again. I also only take classes only if they are meant for faculty and staff only.


No. I work out at home. I only get 6 hours on campus as it is, bc my kids have school; I'm not going to waste it at the gym when I can workout at home after they go to bed instead.