The New Professionals’ Collaborative (NPC) Mentoring Minute: Edee Schulze

By Edee Schulze

    The New Professionals’ Collaborative (NPC) Mentoring Minute: Edee Schulze

    Edee serves as the Vice President of Student Life at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Before coming to Bethel, Edee served at Wheaton College and she has also held leadership positions within ACSD.

    NPC:  Can you tell me a little bit about your first professional position in higher education? 

    Edee:  I became a part-time Residence Director at Wheaton College in 1987.

    NPC:  When you think back to that position, what did you learn as a result of being there? 

    Edee:  Up to that point I had been mostly an administrator in youth ministry and camp programs, and what I learned was that I needed to increase my tolerance for ambiguity.  As I started working more closely with people’s lives, I learned that the issues and processing that they are working through do not wrap up in nice neat little bows.  That was not going to change so I needed to increase my adaptability.  Along the way I discovered spiritual gifts that I have for administration but also for shepherding, that I really do want to walk with people as they change.  But an area of growth that I needed to have was to increase my tolerance for ambiguity.

    NPC:  One of the things that we are trying to do here with this project is to give new professionals a word of advice – kind of like a little bird speaking in their ear.  Did you ever receive any particular help or advice?

    Edee:  Yes, it was pray for genuine affection for the students.  That was the wording that the advice came to me in.  These days I think I would say it a little differently because the word affection can be so misconstrued, legally and so forth.  Really, it is to pray for genuine tenderness and care for the students that we work with.

    NPC: Based upon your work with college students, would you share that same advice with a New Professional or would you emphasize something else?

    Edee:  I would definitely say that [pray for genuine tenderness and care for students].  If you don’t have that, students will quickly pick up on the fact that you are performing a role or simply doing a function. So the authenticity part is critical.  But it’s not something you can manufacture in and of yourself.  One year, I remember recognizing my heart of compassion was not as well developed as I wanted or needed it to be, so I prayed for heart of compassion.  Well, a year and half later, through a series of really challenging experiences in my life, it turned out that I forgot about that prayer and I looked back over my shoulder and I thought, “Where did this come from?”  I really do feel genuine compassion.  So that is one thing I would pass on.  A couple of other things I would say is discover and develop your spiritual gifts and find ways to utilize them in your work.  Using your spiritual gifts leads to fruitful ministry and leads to fulfillment.  The third thing I would say is find a trusted older professional whom you can regularly connect with and confide in.

    NPC:  How has Student Development, as a profession, changed throughout your career?

    Edee:  It has changed in lots of ways. I have listed a few here:

    • the assessment movement;
    • responding to increased parental involvement;
    • an increase in technology in the practice of Student Development and in the misuse on the part of students;
    • an increase in the “morality gap” – students can attend a Bible class learning that is wrong to steal and then go to the dining center and leave with dining center dishes in their hands;
    • less respect for authority; 
    • relational starvation as students have access to a lot more relationships via technology (Facebook, email, texting, etc.) but are starving for authentic high-touch relationships where they really feel connected and loved; and
    • “emerging adulthood” as a developmental phase where students leave college and take some time off like 5 years, go back home, and travel.

    NPC:  Looking back is helpful.  What do you think looking forward?  You have some really valuable years of experience in the field and seen some things change.  What do you foresee?

    Edee:  I think there are increased opportunities for student development professionals to be integrally involved in the academic mission of the institution, if we’re well-prepared and viewed as professionally competent.   And I’m thinking particularly about service learning and experiential learning – these are very familiar realms for us and the academicians can benefit from our involvement.  In light of that, I think as professionals we need a clear vision so we can express regularly and effectively to the campus community (including students and faculty, for sure) what it is that we do and why it is that we are professionals in this field.  Part of it is to be effective contributors in these emerging areas that really capitalize on our expertise, but the other part of it relates to a tight economy and financial pressures on institutions and certainly the excessive pressure.  I think we are going to see ourselves proving our worth more and more. And, when you think about not just constituent accountability - we live in an environment of constituent accountability – with our on-campus students but if the institutions explore on-line education opportunities for undergrad students, why don’t we just go totally on-line for our undergrads? That is not the vision of what this kind of education is about.  In a way, we need to be able to prove our worth and articulate regularly and effectively to the co-curricular world why it is that we are necessary to the kind of work most ACSD schools are trying to do. 

    NPC:  Think of a new professional from your institution or area. What would you encourage them to do to be prepared - to be not only effective in their direct work, but to also contribute to the institution as a whole?

    Edee:  Learn the breadth of the profession and of the institution, which probably means volunteering for committees that you wouldn’t want to be a part of or being willing to take on projects like the re-writing of a philosophy statement. You really need to get your feet wet  In things like the legal aspects [of our profession]. Certainly, most new professionals tend to be honing in on the developmental components and the relational part, even the leadership parts,  but make sure you become a skilled administrator. This includes budget work and just taking those opportunities to be involved beyond student activities and residence life – even if it may not be initially of interest to you.  Participating in assessment is truly one of those where people say “I don’t want to do that.”  But the exposure and experience that you get to the broader institution is tremendous.  I also offer the Scriptural principle,  “Those who are faithful with a little will be entrusted with much.”  People should have a long-range view of working in the profession, being faithful with the little bit you have been given.  Know yourself and work out your personal issues with small groups, friends, counseling, if necessary.  While we are to be authentic in our work, student relationships are not the place to work out personal issues.

    The last thing is also the most important, be in Scripture daily with the whole of life, wholly surrendered.  I can’t identify anything that has been more professionally preparative to me then to shape my heart through Scripture.  It is so basic but it can be the first thing to go in a professional’s life.

    NPC:  That’s a great reminder and a great “flag” to put in the ground for those new professionals. We appreciate your time.

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