When You Part Ways

In education, particularly Higher Education (since the student population is more mature and more prone to questioning, processes of deduction, etc.), those in the profession are taught to examine and acknowledge, at least to one’s self, their ethics and beliefs. With that in mind, when leaving an institution (whether opting to leave for another academic position offering increased professional and personal growth, being laid-off, terminated, or down-sized) and after building relationships with colleagues, students, parents, etc., do you offer any remarks about your separation? And if so, what would those remarks be?

Do you say nothing and allow the guessing, rumor, inuendo develop and flow as it may? Do you reach out to, at minimum, students (and parents if you have met and built relationships with them, as well) to offer encouraging words that they remain focused and continue to progress toward the goals they may have set with your guidance, regardless of who is “at the helm”? Or do you commit academic suicide and expose the details of your separation? Likely obvious to you is the almost certain “NO” choice of option three! But who gains by and who is hurt by options one or two?

By saying nothing prior to or soon after your departure, will your students develop feelings of abandonment or insensitivity toward you for not at least letting them know or affording them the opportunity to say “Goodbye”? Do you, as a Higher Ed professional, develop feelings of separation anxiety due to the abrupt severing of the relationships formed? By reaching out to your “flock”, will you open the door to reasoning that with you not there leading and guiding, things established by you will immediately fall apart? Will you worry that goals set by your students cannot be reached without you? Or have you instilled in those entrusted to your guidance that their goals are personal and attainable only if they put in the necessary effort?

Just some food for thought.

Joann Emmanuel, has written and edited articles for many publications, and has collaborated on a published scholarly paper in Psychological research. Within Higher Education, she has been a Director, Program Coordinator, Acting Director, and Assistant Director.

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