The Belin-Blank Center is housed in the Blank Honors Center – a beautiful building that is in the heart of the UI campus. Every day, we look out on the west side of the UI campus and enjoy the view, which is always inspiring – no matter what the season.
You’ll notice that there are a lot of straight lines, which is typical when one whole side of a building is comprised of windows. In some ways, the straight lines are reminiscent of the original administrative structure when the Center was founded in 1988.
Over the past 26 years, we have added new services and new staff members. When I became the director, I realized that the former horizontal administrative organization of the Center would benefit from a restructuring of the administrative team.
Therefore, we initiated a process of implementing a collaborative model for the operational and strategic planning conducted among the administrative staff, affiliated faculty, clerical staff, and graduate student staff. In essence, we took the two ends of a line and formed a circle to represent the collaborative nature of the team work on both strategies and operations.
Thanks to this collaborative approach, we are able to look back on the summer programming for students and teachers and honestly state that this was one of the best summers ever! From an administrative perspective, I valued the way the residential advisors for our summer residential academic programs stepped in to serve as teaching assistants and lunch staff for the commuter programs! The educators who were here for professional development seemed to thrive in the community that was formed through the Chautauqua weeks – and dozens of others earned credit through the myriad online coursework available through the center.
The leaves are already starting to change, signaling the start of the fall semester. Students and teachers are in school and we are gearing up for the programming that is available in the fall and planning for next summer. Developing and implementing opportunities for gifted and talented students is always a delight – doing it collaboratively is even better!