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ENE Memo: November 21, 2011

From the Head: 11/21

Accept and Give Praise

One of the 25 rules of considerate conduct in Forni’s book Choosing Civility is to “accept and give praise.” This is not as easy as it first appears. The following extract from Forni's book (p70) is worth quoting in full.

Here are a few good reasons to engage in the generous form of attention that is praise.

  • By sharing with others how we feel about them, we let them know something about ourselves and strengthen the bonds between us in the process.
  • By saying, "What you are doing is wonderful," we encourage those who are doing the wonderful thing to keep doing it. Maybe in a small way, we become responsible for the continued existence of something wonderful.
  • Many are unaware of their own gifts or may not realize how outstanding those gifts are. Through our praise we reveal to people who they are.
  • Giving praise we nurture others' self-esteem, a crucial factor in their emotional well-being.

Experts on manners across the centuries have provided instruction on how to handle praise. They actually prefer to speak of "compliments," a category in which they include all kinds of praise, from the serious to the mundane. A compliment, they tell us, is a gift, one we are expected to acknowledge with the simple courtesy of a firm and felt "Thank you." All too often, instead, we add self-deprecating remarks (Oh, I'm not sure I was that good").

That reaction to praise is almost like returning a gift we didn't like. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we should never solicit more praise than we were given or expand on a compliment we received (I was good wasn’t I, and you know what? I am getting better every day!”). Of course, should we receive by mistake compliments that belong to others we will give credit where it is due.”

My hope is that each of us can get away this Thanksgiving for a few days with family or friends to reflect and recharge. There may be persons we catch up who we really value but never tell them so or individuals whose gifts we really appreciate but do not explicitly acknowledge. Be generous (and genuine) with your praise this week. 


News and Information: 11/21

External Review of ENE - Site Visit

Periodically each school in the college is reviewed, and it is our turn. This Monday/Tuesday (Nov 21/22), a committee of external experts who are charged with reviewing the School of Engineering Education will be on campus conducting the site visit phase of this review. This External Review Committee is chaired by Professor Michael Corradini from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The other members are Professor David Darmofal from MIT, Professor Emeritus Thomas Harris from Vanderbilt University, and Professor Bevlee Watford from Virginia Tech. Many of you will be meeting with them on Monday. 

The purpose of the review is to provide an overview of all the elements in the School of Engineering Education. This includes its recent past, current state and future directions, its strengths, weaknesses and comparatives with peer departments. The review covers all elements of ENE, including, but not limited to, undergraduate education, graduate education, research, scholarship, entrepreneurship and engagement activities, students, faculty and administration. The review also places attention on our significant future challenges and opportunities in education, research and engagement and how we plan to address these challenges and take advantage of opportunities.

We expect to have the results of the review by early spring 2012. The report will provide us with valuable feedback on our performance - our accomplishments and areas for improvement. It should also provide helpful advice on our challenges and opportunities going forward. There will be an ENE Advance in the latter part of the spring semester at which we will reflect on this feedback and plan the final two years of the current strategic plan (2009-14) and also make preparations to develop the next plan for 2014-19. 


From the ENE Graduate Student Association

The ENEGSA will be hosting a Research Collaboration Brown Bag in January rather than later this November, following a vote in last Thursday's seminar. Also, thank you to the ASEE student chapter for hosting a very relaxing stress-management panel discussion last week. One key takeaway from the panel discussion: Some stress is necessary for us to get anything done, but too much stress has its consequences. Be sure to have a relaxing, near-stress-free Thanksgiving break with friends and family. And as always, contact the ENGSA with questions at

Independence and National Days around the World

  • Nov 22 - Lebanon - Independence Day
  • Nov 25 - Bosnia and Herzegovina - National day
  • Nov 25 - Suriname - Independence Day

Calendar: 11/21

  • Mon/Tues, Nov. 21-22: Site Visit by External Review Committee
  • Thurs/Fri, Nov. 24-25: Purdue holiday
  • Thurs, Dec. 1: ENE seminar:  Dr. Larry Shuman. (FRNY G124)
  • Fri/Mon, Dec. 23, 26: Purdue holiday
  • Fri/Mon, Dec 30, Jan 2: Purdue holiday

Spring 2012

Kudos: 11/21 Julie Russell, from our visitor last week, Jenni Case, who asked that we give "a big shout-out to Julie for her excellent and caring organizational skills!" David Radcliffe, for surviving a radio interview with WIBC reporter Joe Ulery about ENE's colloquium "It Takes a Team: Reflections at the 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight," after flying in from Australia just hours before. WIBC, an Indianapolis station, aired the interview last Saturday. You can listen to it here. (A video recording of the colloquium will be posted on Purdue's YouTube channel within a week or so.)

To suggest content for future issues of ENE Memo, contact David Radcliffe or Lisa Tally by midday Friday for the following week's issue.