Juggling the demands of higher ed

If you haven’t had the 3+ hours necessary to watch the Youtube video of the Vanderbilt Town Meeting (1/31/2012), then I recommend this 6 minute and forty second highlight video

At present I don’t have more to add to Prayerful consideration & Discussion: Vanderbilt Town Mtg. (2/2/2012), except to encourage you to gather with friends to process through your thoughts and then share your response with the Admissions office, Advancement/Alumni Office, and Chancellor’s Office. Two responses I have particularly appreciated:

Vanderbilt should not meddle in religious-group decisions (Ben R. Chamness, resident bishop, Nashville area, United Methodist Church)

At Stake: Religious Liberty (Alec Hill, president, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship). For more from InterVarsity in general visit www.intervarsity.org/campusaccess.

Quite frankly, part of the reason that I don’t have more to add at this time is because of restraints on my time, which brings me to this popular picture.

The Struggles of College vs. Grad School

On Tuesday, I came across the picture on a faculty friend’s page and posted it on the Emerging Scholars Network’s Facebook Wall. I included the note

“Friends in grad school, praying for you — especially those preparing to defend. FYI: Pic posted by a faculty friend. ~ Tom.”

To my surprise it has been wildly popular, as evidenced by the number of “likes,” shares, and affirming comments.

What about this picture strikes such a deep chord? Hannah aptly addressed some of these realities in her ESN blog series What I Wish I’d Known About Graduate School, and I think many academicians look back with amazement at surviving the initiation process. Professional schools included, I have been most surprised by observing the profound maturation which can occur during the third year of medical school. Issues of identity and priorities truly sift out.

Even as a part-time student (Masters in Spiritual Formation), I have found this term too demanding. Balancing family demands, ministry responsibilities, and guest speakers coupled with the continuing pursuit of excellence (at times perfectionism) has almost snowed me under after just 2 weeks into the semester.  As Hannah noted in What I Wish I’d Known: Balancing Life and Graduate School, worship, community, accountability, rest, and fun are vital aspects of graduate student life. Will I make the better choice to reinvest in an accountability relationship and drop something onto which I’m holding? I invite you to check back with me later in the term.*

If the above photo resonates with you, would you mind sharing your thoughts?  Is it just a light-hearted observation or is there something more subversive in its meaning?  As Christians in academia do we blindly perpetuate the stereotype, powerless to change such entrenched systems?  Or do we act boldly to define our priorities as shaped by the Person of Christ, Scripture (i.e., Old & New Testament), the Spirit, the Body of Christ, and the life-guiding principle of loving God and loving one’s neighbor?

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. Psalm 20:1

*As you may be, I’m curious how long it will take for my InterVarsity supervisor, seminary adviser, and/or concerned family member(s) to give me a call after this post goes up 😉 Don’t worry, my wife read the material before it went up and the next steps mentioned above flow out of a spiritual direction “real session” from Monday’s class.

Updated 2/9/2012. 11:14 AM.

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!

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