RealJobs: Patricia McLaughlin Carey

A typical workday

5:30 a.m. It starts at my kitchen counter with a cup of coffee and my laptop, and a pair of sleepy Australian shepherds at my feet.  Over breakfast, I scan e-mail, media placements, and social media for mentions of the college, emerging issues in higher education and communications trends.   I check the reader comments on a New York Times blog posting by two of our administrators, and I enjoy a student editorial about our Centennial video.  Good, bad or satirical, audience feedback is always valuable.

It feels like we’ve been publicizing our Centennial forever, but this video is the first communication that’s captured attention across all our constituencies, with more than 7,000 views in two weeks. It’s a timely reminder of a perennial challenge: how to cut through the clutter of competing communications that bombard each of us every day. (I wonder if the organizers of B.C.’s Sesquicentennial feel the same way.)

This week, there’s a lot happening. We’re getting ready to launch a redesign of the college’s homepage and admission website.  On Friday and Saturday, the board of trustees will be on campus.  The publications staff is finishing up an issue of the quarterly Connecticut College Magazine, and we’re organizing the next big Centennial event on March 1. If I didn’t have an incredibly creative, talented staff, I’d be stressed right now…

8:30-10:30 a.m. Review reports and handouts for my first meeting. Draft a magazine article.  Review the proposed program for March 1, the text for a publication we’ll distribute there, and the design of a banner thanking New London for one hundred years of support. Everything looks great.

10:30 a.m. Weekly meeting with President Higdon and the college’s leadership team. This is where we look at the college as a whole and how all the operations and divisions interact. Among the topics for discussion today: enrollment projections, budget projections, plans for a new science center and how we assess student learning. The meeting is extended from two hours to three for a presentation on enterprise risk management. (On the plus side, the President’s office provides lunch.)

1:30 p.m. Weekly meeting with the Vice President for Advancement. This is where we confer on issues, events and communications that span fundraising, alumni relations and institutional communications.  Today, though, we both have board presentations to finish, and we opt to cancel.

2-4 p.m. Plan for the next meeting of the Centennial committee. Get an update on the Centennial song contest with my faculty co-chair, Music Professor Midge Thomas. Check in on the website redesign. It’s a carefully planned project that started more than a year ago with user surveys and focus groups. But now we’re in the home stretch, and there’s a kind of controlled, constructive panic emanating from the director of online communications as she works with communications staff, Information Services and our Web design firm to populate the new pages.

4-4:30 p.m. Meeting of the College’s budget committee, which includes faculty, administrators, students and elected staff representatives.  We do a last review of the budget recommendations that will be presented to the board of trustees on Friday.

5-8 p.m. As the office quiets down and empties out, I catch up on e-mail and prep for more meetings.

8:30-10:30 p.m. I’m happy to get home and see my husband, daughter and the now-wide-awake Australian shepherds. After a late dinner, it’s back to my laptop to write this blog entry.  Our older daughter—a freshman at B.C.—checks in by phone. We talk about the Beanpot victory and her great experience last weekend at 48 Hours.

Go Eagles! And, good night.

P.S. I never got around to taking a picture of my office today, but here are a few shots of my larger work environment, our 750-acre arboretum campus. Guess which one was taken last week.

Photo credit: Vickers and Beechler

Photo credit: Jill Grossman


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