There are many people throughout history who have provided poignant comments about success.  Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”  Booker T. Washington said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which [s]he has overcome.  Eleanor Roosevelt addressed success by saying, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Abraham Lincoln said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”  Malala Yousafzai, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke of the success by saying, “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world.”

I’ve been reflecting on several aspects of success following the successful reaccreditation of six program areas in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services over the past three years.  The most recent was Teacher Education, reaccredited last week with no weaknesses or stipulations.  Counselor Education, Communication Disorders and Sciences, Nutrition, Nursing, and Social Work, along with Teacher Education, all had stellar reviews from site visit teams.  I could not be more proud.  Mediocrity is not an option for us, something that is true for each program in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services.

Success evolves from the collaborative work of many with a clear focus on purpose.  Our purpose, which is to prepare students for academic, professional and personal success, is clear and we meet this purpose daily with a commitment to excellence.  There are ways of being we have had to overcome to achieve this goal.  Robert Haas, a former CEO of Levi Strauss, cared about the values and culture of his company.  Sonnenberg (1993) shared Haas’s perspective on the importance of overcoming conditioned ways of being in order to be successful.  Robert Hass said it is, “difficult to unlearn behaviors that made us successful in the past.  Speaking rather than listening, valuing people like yourself over people from different genders or from different cultures or parts of the organization,  doing things on your own rather than collaborating and  making the decision yourself instead of asking different people for their perspectives.  There is a whole range of behaviors that were highly functional in the old hierarchical organization that are dead wrong in the flatter, more responsive, empowered organizations that we are seeking to become” (p. 18).

Success champions our ability to become an increasingly more responsive, empowered organization where continuous improvement promises an even stronger tomorrow.  This exciting perspective is one that requires continuous growth beyond older and possibly more comfortable ways of operating.  We must be willing to stretch beyond our conditioned comfort zones and conditioned behaviors to achieve our goals at the highest level.

There is a lot in the media today questioning the value of college.  I sleep well at night knowing our programs are giving students the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to make a positive difference on others’ lives.  Our ability to work together toward the focused goal of helping students be successful would rev up Henry Ford.  Our resolve to help students succeed would make Abraham Lincoln proud.  Our ability to discuss great ideas and to develop new programs would cause Eleanor Roosevelt to pause and take notice.  Booker T. Washington would appreciate how we have overcome and learned from obstacles and would be respectful of the way we face new obstacles.  As for Malala Yousafzai, we can strive daily to live up to the power of her words.

Bonus: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese proverb

EHHS Shared Values highlighted in this article:

Excellence in Teaching

Helping Students Achieve Goals



Howard, R. (1990). Values make the company: An interview with Robert Haas.  In Sonnenberg, F. (1993). Managing with a conscience: How to improve performance through integrity, trust, and commitment (p. 18).  New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Image (2004). Retrieved November 1, 2014 from: