In 2012, I will be submitting my Tenure and Promotion portfolio. Though I won’t receive final word on my tenure and promotion until May 2013, I will begin moving through the process in February/March 2012. The process begins with the identification of external reviewers, or tenured scholars in my discipline, who will read the file I prepare and offer their assessment. As I prepare for this journey over the next several months, I am reflecting on what I consider to be the coolest moments in my job… these may not be my biggest quantifiable achievements (e.g. grant receipt, etc), but they represent personal achievements, signified through the words of others or some other output.
Here then are my top five coolest moments, moving into my tenure and promotion period. In case it’s not clear by the time you finish reading this list, I love my job. These are presented in no particular order:
1. 2008. The Obama administration’s transition team put out a call for citizens to convene Community Health Care Discussions. I convened a forum at UCF–See a news story at http://today.ucf.edu/residents-share-health-care-nightmares-at-obama-inspired-ucf-health-care-meeting/–on December 22, which attracted approximately 70 people from the university and the larger Central Florida community. The report from this forum that was submitted to the White House led to one of the forum participants being invited to the 2010 State of the Union Address as a guest of the First Lady (see http://tinyurl.com/Bryer-Martinez). The submitted report was one of four, out of more than three thousand, that was highlighted in a final report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (see http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/participationc.html). On all three counts–big turnout, invite to a participant to the State of the Union, and a featured spot in the final report–this is pretty cool stuff.
2. 2011. I implemented a novel approach to service learning, something I am calling “Joined Up Service Learning.” Essentially, this is a process whereby a class of my graduate students partner with a class of high school students in an under-served community to jointly conduct research on the needs of that community and to make enhancements to the community. Read the final report from students at: http://www2.cohpa.ucf.edu/cpnm/documents/EvansNeedsAssessmentReport-7th-draft-FINALb.pdf. There is much I can say about this, and I am currently drafting a full length paper and maybe more, but the cool thing, after all the work of implementation, came when one of the high school students offered an unsolicited note of gratitude. The note read:
“Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the community school focus group process. I speak on the behalf of Evans High students when I say we appreciate your efforts to try to make our school not feel like a school, but a home, and for that we are grateful. We know that you do not have to do these things for us, most people don’t know us and don’t know how great we can be and the things we can do or our talents and hopes and dreams that we withhold. They don’t know what we go through and the pain and struggles we deal with. Evans is my home. I walk these halls and I see my brothers and sisters fall, they fall into the temptations and cruelty of this world. I see how great and stunning they are, things other people will never see. So on behalf of my family I say thank you UCF . . . Thank you.”
3. 2010. I created my alter-ego, DrBryer Brucato, in the virtual world of Second Life. Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, I was able to teach an online undergraduate class on civic engagement, and in partnership with the UCF Institute of Government, Lou Frey Institute, and Valencia Community College, implement a poll worker training program. Students were trained to serve as poll workers for the November 2010 elections, never setting foot inside a physical location with voting equipment until Election Day. Download a Research Brief on the project at https://drbryer.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/secondlifeissuebrief.pdf.
4. 2008-2012. I am going to lump a few things into this one, and label it international. I have been fortunate to travel to conferences in Argentina and Canada, collaborate with colleagues in the United Kingdom and Canada, and publish (out in print any week now) a French-language article. The article is:
Obama et le concept de gouvernment ouvert: gage d’une gouvernance renovee ou simple bulle democratique (Translation: Democratic Processes and Institutions in the Obama Administration: An Emerging Research Agenda). Chroniques de la Gouvernance 2010/2011.Paris, France: Institut de recherche et débat sur la gouvernance. It will be available at: http://www.institut-gouvernance.org/en/ouvrage/index.html#idths1
That is all pretty cool.
5. 2007-2012. I won’t lie. It’s pretty darn cool to see my work cited by others, especially by others who I perceive as leading thinkers in my discipline. It’s pretty darn cool that I read the book Government Is Us in my Masters program at George Washington University, and in the new edition, Government Is Us 2.0, my scholarship is cited… several times over. See who has cited my work at: http://tinyurl.com/Bryer-citations
6. 2007-2012. Now this was supposed to be a Top 5 list, but frankly I can’t neglect so many cool parts of my job. Working with the homeless serving community in Seminole County is an honor and a privilege (http://tinyurl.com/Bryer-homeless); teaching a diverse group of talented students every semester teaches me a great deal; developing Service Learning projects to truly impact community is both a challenge and an opportunity; developing and implementing public engagement processes in the community opens my eyes and ears to the great diversity of need, ambition, and fear in the community;
receiving three teaching awards has been a great honor; serving as Chair of my college’s Faculty Council was a wonderful experience, and now Directing the Center for Public and Nonprofit Management… there are so many more opportunities to do work that is meaningful. Items 1 and 2 above are really what it’s all about for me. Giving people a chance to succeed and communities a chance to become stronger… it’s all pretty cool.