Conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe Class of 1992.
Hosted by Will Bachman.

Episode: 77

Amelia Noël-Elkins, University Administrator

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Show notes

Amelia Noel-Elkins, a graduate of Harvard, shares her journey since graduating from the university. She began her career in intercollegiate athletics after graduating and worked as the manager of the men’s swim team and an internship in the athletic department, and she was convinced this was the path she wanted to follow.  After moving back to Indiana, she was accepted into an internship, and she started a master’s program at Indiana University, where she also worked in the academic advising office in the athletic department. She eventually became a full-time academic advisor and was promoted to the role of associate director. 


After finishing her PhD at Indiana, and started the position as an Associate Director, one of her basketball players set her up with his professor. They met at a bar in Bloomington, Indiana, where her parents had met. They married and  moved to Illinois where Amelia took a position as Director of University College. She talks about what was involved with this role.  After 15 years, she was promoted to Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Success at Illinois State. Most recently, she started as the Associate Provost at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Amelia believes in fate and believes in  following signs and signals that guide you through life. She has two children, one starting college and another junior. Amelia talks about academic advising and how she was focused on athletic advising. She talks about the friendships formed and helping students with individual courses, tutoring, time management, mentoring and working with students over the course of several years.  

Amelia discusses the challenges of managing the workload and balancing the demands of athletics and academics. She explains the demands of Division One athletics and offers examples of challenges faced. An example of a player student that Amelia worked with was a baseball player who faced constant travel and strict attendance requirements. Athletes especially find it difficult to manage traveling during the school year, and combining academic studies with athletic demands. She helped them plan their schedules, ensuring they could take courses at another institution or time and transfer them back to finish their degree. Amelia also discusses the importance of setting up students for success in the long term, especially during championship sports. Many of her soccer and basketball players went pro, and she helped them manage their identities as athletes while focusing on their career. She explains that a typical week for a division one athlete involves choosing classes carefully, with many morning classes and afternoon practices. However, smaller schools may have limited facilities and practice facilities, making it more challenging to manage time.

Amelia also discusses the differences between student athletes and general population students in terms of time management and self-management. She believes that students from the general population school experience includes extracurricular activities, such as student government, orientation, jobs, or research labs. Overall, the advising profession in higher education is a complex and multifaceted field that requires a deep understanding of the students and their needs.

Amelia has a passion for athletics management, having worked with the men’s swim team and gaining an internship in the athletic department. She believes that if student athletes have people who are committed to helping them be students and athletes, there is the capacity for them to succeed. She sees this happening at Harvard, Indiana, and Illinois State, but not as much at School of the Art Institute where they don’t have a collegiate athletics program. Amelia also shares her favorite theory in student development, the challenge and support theory. This theory suggests that students need both challenge and support to overcome challenges and grow. Some students need more support at the beginning, while others need less. In conclusion, Amelia emphasizes the importance of providing students with the necessary support and challenge to succeed in their academic pursuits. By advising students on time management and promoting a love for their studies, they can achieve success in their future careers.


An Academic Advisor’s Advice 

The challenge and support model is essential for students to perform optimally in their academic pursuits. It is crucial to provide both leeway and support, which can be beneficial for both students and adults. One tip for young people struggling with study tips is to go to office hours and consult professors for guidance. In the world of electronic gadgets and apps, Amelia stresses the importance of time management. It is important to remember the basics of plotting all tasks and print out a weekly schedule. This helps students plot their classes, jobs, and eating habits, etc. 

Amelia states that the political landscape has a significant impact on higher education, particularly in the field of College Student Personnel Administration. Many professionals in this field work with students on equity, diversity, and inclusion issues. Recent Supreme Court decisions and subsequent issues are expected to have a significant impact on how college personnel operate. Amelia’s perspective on the coddling of the American mind is complicated, as it is more complex than often described. She believes significant mental health issues need to be addressed. In higher education, providing mental health support is not coddling them, but rather a medical issue. 


Amelia’s current role involves working behind the scenes on curricular issues that she didn’t normally have the ability to work on in her previous job. At the School of the Art Institute, which has a high rate of students seeking a creative outlet for their creativity, it can be difficult to help identify which courses students’ actually need. She mentions a project she recently completed to help the programs work more effectively. The challenge and support model is crucial for students to perform optimally in their academic pursuits. By focusing on the basics and addressing the complex issues faced by students, institutions can better support and help students navigate the challenges they face. Amelia talks about her experiences with professors and courses that have resonated with her personally and professionally. She mentions History Professor Mark Kishlansky, who was her shadow advisor for her thesis. Kishlansky was known for his expertise in Early Modern English history which Amelia loved. 

After graduation, she continued working part-time for the library while she was there, which was a fun post-college job. She enjoyed not only getting books but also having conversations with the people who were working there. In summary, Amelia’s experiences with professors and professors during her college years have been invaluable in her personal and professional growth, and her experiences at Widener Library and her work at the library have left a lasting impact on her life and career.



01:30 Career path and life journey after graduating from Harvard

05:29 Academic advising in higher education

09:45 Balancing athletics and academics for college athletes

13:47 Managing time and balancing athletics and academics in college

19:34 Time management tips for college students

24:01 Mental health, and higher education challenges

28:54 College courses and professors’ impact

33:16 Bear and bull baiting sporting laws





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77. AmeliaNoelElkins


Amelia Noel-Elkins, Will Bachman


Will Bachman  00:01

Hello, and welcome to the 90 T report conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe class of 1992. The goal is to speak with all 1700 members of us. So I’m Will Bachman and I’m here today with Amelia Noel Elkins. Amelia, welcome to the show.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  00:19

Thanks for having me. Well,


Will Bachman  00:21

Amelia, tell me about your journey since graduating from Harvard.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  00:26

Well, I think my career plan right when I graduated from Harvard was maybe a little different than than most people and I’ve ended up in a very different place than than where I intended maybe I knew that I wanted to work in intercollegiate athletics. After I graduated from Harvard, I was the manager of the men’s swim team, I had an internship in the athletic department, and I was convinced that this is what I wanted to do. There’s not a very clear career path. Sometimes for people who want to work in intercollegiate athletics, sometimes there is but for me, I started out with the, the moving back home to Indiana. And then I got an internship at a place called the Women’s Sports Foundation in New York. And then after that, I decided, as I was looking at all of the job announcements, I needed a master’s degree if I was going to be able to work in intercollegiate athletics. And so I still had my Indiana residency. And actually, my mom did her master’s degree at Indiana University, and met my dad there at Indiana University. And so I started a master’s program at IU. And within one semester, I was lucky enough to start working in the academic advising office in the athletic department, and I worked for a woman named buzz copious, her real name is Elizabeth, but no one calls her that and started working for her as an intern. And then I became her graduate assistant. And then I became a full time academic advisor. And when she retired as the Associate Athletic Director for academics, I was the lucky person selected at the end of the search to replace her. And it was it was a little weird, you’re replacing someone who was the only person who had done that at Indiana, and was really a pioneer in the field of academic advising in athletics. And so I was I was lucky, I got to do what I wanted to do for a very, very long time. And then I think, I think it’s easy to say that I put a good balance on the personal and the professional. Just after I finished my PhD at Indiana, I was and started the position as associate ad, one of my basketball players set me up with a guy who was his professor. So and so if anyone’s a basketball fan, it’s a guy named Dane five who played in Indiana was Mr. Basketball in Michigan when he was in high school. And I call him my qubit. Because my husband Dan, and I met at the actually at the bar in Bloomington, Indiana, where my parents met in law school. And so it was kind of meant to be Dan and I got married. And we agreed when we got married, that we would make a decision pretty early on whether he wanted to be on the tenure track at a research one institution, or whether he wanted to be on the tenure track at a teaching institution. And the day we landed after our honeymoon, we got a call from a friend at Illinois State University who said to my husband, we’ve got a position available. And so we moved here to Bloomington, Indiana, or excuse me, Bloomington, Illinois, from Bloomington, Indiana. And I started a position as Director of University College, which in in Harvard lingo, it’s kind of akin to the freshman dean’s office. And so I was in charge of First Year Advising academic support programs, orientation programs TRIO programs. And I did that for 15 years. And then after 15 years, I was promoted to Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Success here at Illinois State. Soon after that, lots of you know, there’s lots of things that happen and my family and I recognized that it was time for me to look for another position. And so just almost a year ago now, I started as the Associate Provost at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. And you know, we joke about my parents meeting in the same bar where my husband and I met, I walked into the building where I work right now for my interview. And there’s a very beautiful LeRoy Neiman mural above the above the elevators because he was a graduate of the School of the Art Institute. And that mural was hanging in a bank, two doors down from my parents office in Hammond, Indiana when I was growing up. So you So all of this to say, I kind of believe in fate a little bit, right? There’s some signs and signals that tell tell you where you go and what you’re supposed to do. And you got to follow those signs and signals and, and it’s worked out pretty well for me. I have two kids now. One is starting the college search while starting, she’s actually applying right now she’s a senior. And then I’ve got a junior, and actually, in a couple of weekends, we’re going to go visit Indiana University with him.


Will Bachman  05:29

Do your kids know where that bar is? Because they want you know, they want to go there when they’re ready.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  05:36

They do they do we take them there all the time. It’s a it’s a bar restaurant, it’s a place called NYX in Bloomington, Indiana, and if anyone is from or related to Indiana University, you know, next it is on the main drag and it is the Indiana bar.


Will Bachman  05:54

So tell me about academic advising. Now, people are gonna say, Oh, that’s a silly question. Well, because everyone knows what that is. But I don’t you know, it, especially in athletics, I was a different but even I mean, what really is academic advising? I had, you know, I guess like, we all did an academic quote unquote, advisor in college, but I mean, I really didn’t make full use of it. I would just go. I just had someone sign my, my course selection sheet every semester, I think we had to do that. And yeah, that was pretty much it. I never spoke with a person that he gave me advice. So what’s kind of like the range? I mean, imagine, maybe at the extreme of zero interaction, some people probably have maybe heavy interaction, is this about, you know, helping people on individual courses? Hey, you need to get a tutor or is it? A this is too hard for you? Or hey, you need to be more challenged? Or, hey, you should really think about doing this, you know, semester abroad. Tell me what is academic advising?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  06:59

Well, you just answered the question. It’s all of those things. I so I grew up in advising grew up professionally, advising in athletics, in athletic advising in the period of time I was doing it and still now tends to be much smaller caseload, you tend to work with those students throughout the entirety of their academic career. And you develop good strong friendships with them, the students that I advise, they’re not students anymore. They’re adults that I advised when I was at Indiana, I’m still friends with a lot of them. And so it is a little bit in athletics of you need to have someone on your side so that you can balance the demands of division one athletics and still be a student. And what I loved about working in my office at the period of time I worked in it is we believed in academics, and we had the three most powerful coaches at the university who also believed in it very strongly. Bob Knight, who was the basketball coach at the period of time that I started there, Bill Mallory, and then Terry Hefner, who were the football coaches. And the winningest coach at Indiana who is Jerry eglee. He was the men’s soccer coach. He’s the winningest soccer coach in NCAA history. And when you have the three leading coaches in your department, support supporting everything that the Academic Advising Office does, it makes a massive difference in what you’re able to do. So it’s the tutoring, it’s the let’s talk about your courses. It’s the how are you managing your time, it’s very intense in athletics. When you get to the on campus side of advising, it can be equally intense depending on what population of students you’re working with. You know, there’s a lot of campuses that have general advisors, they’ll work with first year students or they’ll work with students in a particular academic discipline. But there’s also advisors in programs like TRIO programs that work very intensely, much like athletics with a small group of students over several years. And so it can be a lot of those things. It’s a lot of mentoring. You know, I don’t want to put aside how important faculty advising is to but faculty advising a lot of institutions functions a little bit more as mentoring, and a little bit less edit, advising at the undergraduate level. And so the the advising profession in higher education is massive, huge, huge network of professional academic advisors who typically get degrees in what I have, which is College Student Personnel Administration, and trained to be an academic advisor. That’s what they want to do with their life. And so it’s a little bit of everything and a lot of it depends on which population of students you’re working with.


Will Bachman  09:45

Well, let’s talk about this is a window for me and maybe the listeners into a world that I’m not too familiar with. So division one, athletic, what’s tell us about maybe even not to name a specific person, but give us a sanitized example of a player student that you worked with, and what was the demands on their time, like, throughout the year, maybe, you know, pick your pick a basketball player or soccer player? What’s their world look like during the season? You know, how many hours? Are they out training and playing and traveling? And how would they adjust their course load and what good bring us into that world a bit.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  10:29

So give you give you a couple of examples, not of specific people that have kind of the the challenges that they face. So for example, if I was working with a baseball player whose spring semester is absolutely insane, because they’re traveling constantly, especially to place like what’s going on constantly is like two or three times a week, potentially. So I know and I know, there’s this particular professor who is a stickler on attendance, that there you get, you know, three absences, and you’re done, you can’t pass the class, I’m not going to recommend to the student that they take that course in the baseball season, take that course in the fall, when you’re you’re not going to have the same demands in terms of travel. During particular periods of time, it became very intense. So with soccer, for example, our soccer team in the period of time that I was there, one, I think for national championships when I was there. And so when you get into the when you get into the postseason, you’re traveling every week, you know, you you leave on a Thursday, you come back on a on a Sunday night, and then you got to get to class and do your thing, and then turn around and do it again, if you’re winning. Same thing, when I was the associate ad, our basketball team went to the final for that year. And it’s the same thing. And you know, if you watch the basketball tournament, the NCAA basketball tournament, you see how far these students travel, to get to their, their regional locations. It’s, it is not easy to balance that and what I had a hard time helping them with, but I was committed to helping them with, particularly with those championship sports in the championship season is how do you manage focusing on something you love, I mean, their identities are wrapped up as being an athlete, and many of my soccer players went pro, many of my basketball players went pro. And so you know that this is going to be your first destination career, when you get out of college, they’re going to be a professional athlete. So they’re developing their career, but at the same time, you know that the degree is what they need in the long term. And so you’re doing everything you possibly can to set them up for success. And in fact, for some players, it starts in their freshman year, if you’ve got a soccer player who you know is going to go professional, they’re that good. You start helping them plan their schedule, so that whatever courses they have left at the end of their senior season, they could potentially take them through correspondence courses, they could take them at another institution, transfer them back and finish their degree. So it’s a it’s a four year process for some of these students. But then at those moments during the postseason, it’s very, very intense to help them keep focused. And it’s not easy.


Will Bachman  13:18

No, I guess, I am not a big kind of Final Four basketball fan, but you hear about it, certainly. And it has actually, until this moment, never occurred to me that in the Final Four championship and the basket magic March Madness, that those students also probably have a term paper to finish or midterm that they’re studying for, while they’re, you know, going and playing for the, you know, for the championship.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  13:47

I both administered exams on the road. And when students would travel to our campus, they would have to from other schools, they would sometimes have to come to our office, or I’d have to find a faculty member who would administer an exam for them on the road. Oh, wow. Not unusual. And


Will Bachman  14:05

even more detailed level what might a typical week week look like for a division one athlete? In terms of practice schedule, you know, game schedule? You know, how many hours when are they going to class? Do they try to bunch it all into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or something? Like what might that week look like?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  14:26

Well, now keep in mind, I am what almost 20 years out of the profession right now. So I don’t work in athletics anymore, but did stay closely associated with it when I was when I was here at Illinois State circuit 2020


Will Bachman  14:37

circuit today. Exactly.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  14:39

Exactly. It’s, yeah, you you choose the classes carefully. A lot of morning classes because many of them practice in the afternoon. But then, you know, depending on availability of facilities, availability of practice, time you sometimes I had some teams that would Flip Flop their schedule, and they would do morning practices in the offseason. And then you’d have to plan all of their classes in the afternoon. So it really depends, I would say, you know, the big power schools, in some ways, it’s a little easier because you’re at a research one institution, you have a lot of options and available in terms of class times, class availability, when you get to smaller schools, some of the mid major schools, you don’t have as much time and availability, in terms of the practice facilities, you don’t have as much, you know, a 40,000. Person school is going to have a lot more capacity for different sections of classes than a 20,000 person school. And so it’s different at different institutions. But yeah, they the NCAA puts limits on how much they are required to be at practice. But you know, many of these students are committed to this, as, as I said, it’s their first destination career. And so they’ll spend more time above and beyond the limits that the NCAA puts on it.


Will Bachman  16:00

It’s got to take a lot of discipline, to make it to be a division, one athlete at a top school like that. What would you say? would you how would you describe the differences between the student athletes that you advised and then later, the more general population students just in terms of coaching people on time management, or other aspects of managing themselves? Were this did you notice like a difference in resilience or grit or, you know, focus among the student athletes?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  16:38

Not Not really, because the students from the general population that I would work with, or I would advise, while maybe they weren’t going to make their career out of athletics, and their time wasn’t taken up with athletics, their time was taken up by a ton of extracurriculars. And, you know, as you can see, from what I explained to you, you know, my concentration at Harvard was history, I didn’t make my career because of what I concentrated in, I made my career because of what I did outside of the classroom. And so whether it was the student athletes, or my orientation advisors, and my orientation leaders, they all many of them are making their career out of something that they did outside of the classroom, not necessarily their degree program. And so many of those students are equally committed to their external activities, whether it’s student government or orientation or a job or working in a research lab. There’s, there’s a lot of commitment there. I would say, for any student that I have ever worked with, the number one thing that can hurt students is not understanding how to manage their time when they get to college. That’s the big one, whether it’s a student athlete or anyone else, if you know how to manage your time, you’re going to be more successful. And if you study something you love, I always tell students to study something they love, makes it easier to study if you love what you’re studying.


Will Bachman  18:03

What drew you to athletics management in particular? Are you an athlete yourself? Are you a, you know, varsity or intramural athlete in college and


Amelia Noel-Elkins  18:14

not really, I mean, I’ve run a couple of marathons, but I did that after college, I was working with the men’s swim team, and through working with the men’s swim team, the team that I made a ton of friends through, I was able to get an internship in the athletic department. And I, I mean, maybe it was a little bit wide eyed, maybe it was a little bit naive. But I still believe it that if student athletes have people who are committed to helping them be students and athletes, there’s the capacity for them to do that. And I saw that both that at Harvard and Indiana and at Illinois State, not so much at School of the Art Institute. We don’t have an intercollegiate athletics program there. But I see it everywhere that students are the student athletes are able to do that. And I wanted to be one of the people who helped them make that a reality to be able to perhaps compete professionally, in the Olympics in the NBA, in the MLS, or, and get their degree at the same time and then have amazing careers after that.


Will Bachman  19:21

A number of listeners, including myself, ever have children who are either in college or maybe someday we’ll be in college, high school kids. What are some tips that you have? What do you know about how to advise a young person on time management that you didn’t know when you started? Like what did you learn about effectively advising students on how to manage their time?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  19:53

What I learned and this was true in athletics, and this is I’m hoping true as I go I’d my own daughter through the college search process is that there, there’s a theory in student development called the challenge and support theory. And it is my favorite theory as you think about higher education, which is you need to provide students, especially at this very important developmental stage, a challenge that they have to overcome. But you have to provide them just enough support so that they can overcome the challenge on their own. You don’t want to do it for them, because then then learn nothing from the challenge. And if you let them go without enough support, they don’t overcome the challenge and then become frustrated with their failure. And so this has always been the thing that I’ve, it’s the most logical theory I studied in graduate school, it’s the one that sticks with me. And if students have that both that challenge and support, those are the students that I see thrive. Now every student is a little bit different, some need a lot more support at the beginning. And then they grow and they learn and they figure it out. Other students need less, I actually used to do a presentation with our Dean of Students Office at Illinois State, talking to parents at an open house and students at an open house about how to make the transition to college. One of the things I told them is you need to, you need to act like it’s 1988 again, and you don’t have a cell phone, and I don’t know about you, but in 1988 and 89 and 90, I got the once a week, Sunday morning phone call from my parents, because the long distance rates were cheaper on Sunday mornings. And that’s when I talked to my parents, and they gave me great guidance and great support that they were not overbearing in terms of the guidance and the support that they gave me. And I had to figure things out on my own. It’s hard for me now seeing my daughter go through this, but I’m trying to practice what I preach and help her figure these things out on her own. That I think is the most important thing through college, do not call your students academic advisor or their professors. It’s not a good idea. It’s a very bad idea.


Will Bachman  22:09

My son would, I think die of embarrassment if I called one of his professors.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  22:14

And I’ve had it quite happened quite a lot.


Will Bachman  22:20

That’s yeah, so the challenge and support model, so you got to get that balance, right. And that I think I’ve seen similar things just not necessarily with kids, but just people kind of perform optimally, when there’s that. There’s like that bell curve. And if it’s super, super hard, you just give up. And if it’s too easy, it’s boring as your challenge is to be somewhere in the middle to be in the flow state or get excited about work. Any Oh, yeah.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  22:44

And it’s, you know, it’s the it’s the interview question you get what type of supervisor Do you appreciate the most and everyone answers the supervisor who gives you enough leeway to do what you need to do, but also gives you the support that you need. The same thing for us as adults,


Will Bachman  22:58

any other tips or practices for a young person that is struggling to just get their stuff done on time, you know, maybe they forget assignments, or they, you know, they don’t, you know, they get the first three done, but they don’t have time to go to bed, they’re too tired. Any tips just on you know, helping young people manage their time better.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  23:23

A couple of tips. The first one, which everybody says is absolutely true, because I’m married to a faculty member is go to office hours, you have to go to office hours, right. And my advice also is go to office hours before the first exam, I cannot tell you the number of students who say to me, Oh, I kind of know this stuff, I’m going to be fine. I’m just gonna get through the first exam and see how it goes. And I’m thinking to myself, that could be a third of your grade. Why go talk to the professor, there’s going to be no one who knows better how to study for this exam than the professor, go talk to them. The other thing is that in in our world of all of the electronic gadgets and apps that can help you, when I’m working with a student who is having time management issues, I go back to the absolute basics, I print out a weekly schedule on a piece of paper that’s blank. And I say okay, plot in your classes, plot in your job, plot in when you’re going to eat because students forget to eat, put all of this on a piece of paper, carry this piece of paper with you all week, and keep track of what you actually did. And then fix it from there. You know, sometimes when we think about time management, I do the same thing. I gotta go back to the basics. I’ve got to print out a piece of paper, I’ve got to look at it and I’ve got to plot out. I need to get this done by this time so that I can meet this deadline. And I think we’re so enamored sometimes with technology and how it can in fact help us that we forget to go back to the basics sometimes and that’s what I start with with students is a blank A piece of paper with a weekly time grid on it.


Will Bachman  25:05

Among the world of I think you said the field is college students personal administration, or what are the big debates going on right now in that, like, where there’s big, different schools of thought and people are? It’s unsettled?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  25:24

Well, I think not surprisingly, the political landscape has a huge impact on what we do in higher education. And that holds true for anyone who has a degree in College Student Personnel Administration, you will see a lot of professionals in the field, working with students on equity, diversity and inclusion issues, and their degrees are in college student personnel, higher education administration, something along those lines. The the recent Supreme Court decisions and the subsequent issues that are arising are going to have a huge impact on what we do and how we do it. It’s it is, you know, most people in admissions have their degree in College Student Personnel Administration. So the people that you see in Financial Aid, Admissions, academic advising those types of areas, student activities, that’s the typical degree that they will get. And it is, it is a very weird landscape right now. And we don’t all know how to navigate it. We’re all looking to our professional associations to give us some guidance on what we need to do and how we need to do it. But it’s a it’s a big unknown right now.


Will Bachman  26:39

What is your take on the Jonathan Haidt perspective of the coddling of the American mind? And he talks about how, really, maybe six, seven years ago, kind of trigger warnings start coming out. And he’s his book says that there’s we’ve sort of been teaching young people to be fragile. Right. And and they responded by by becoming more fragile. What’s your take on that whole on that whole? perspective?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  27:20

You know, I think it’s, it’s more complex than the way it is probably described, more freely in in the media or in his conversations. You know, I met an institution that has about twice the rate of mental health issues of students at other four year institutions. And when you look at in fact, this week, we just went over a survey called the Healthy Mind survey, that’s a national survey. And if you look at the increase of college age students who are experiencing suicide, ideations, self harm, mental health issues, you you can’t say we’re coddling those people, they have significant mental health issues that need to be dealt with. And in higher education, it is a massive challenge, because we do not have the capacity and Student Counseling Services offices to provide mental health issues and mental health support for the students that need it. They’re coming to institutions of higher education with undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues and then expecting that a Student Counseling Services Office can provide that that’s not possible. And providing that support is not coddling them. It’s a medical issue. So we, you know, it’s complex. It’s very complex. And I don’t think especially as we come out of the pandemic that we can go to, kind of a, if you want to call it an easy answer, if we’re just over coddling people. It’s much more complex than that.


Will Bachman  28:54

Let’s turn to your current role. Tell us a bit more about I think you said your associate provost tell us what what that what that involves.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  29:01

I am, I’m a lot behind the scenes. What was really appealing to me about this position is it gives me the ability to work behind the scenes on some curricular issues that I didn’t normally have the ability to work on in my previous job. So what that means is the School of the Art Institute, the majority of our students, seek a bachelor Fine Arts Studio. That’s the majority of our undergraduates. And the way our curriculum is set up it for their studio courses. They can take anything they can take painting, they can take drawing, they can take photography, they can take printmaking and film or new media. On the administrative side, it makes it very difficult for us to predict exactly what courses they need because there’s 1000s of students who could choose to take anything they want to take. And so my job behind the scenes is try to make our systems work better so that we are providing the what the students need, and in a way that is curricularly appropriate based on the disciplinary knowledge of our faculty. So I’m a I’m behind the scenes person, the, the big project I just finished working with a colleague on is we just reduced the number of credit hours to earn a degree from 126 to 120, which is pretty much standard 120 across the nation. So we, you know, we do all those behind the scenes work to make some of the more public programs work effectively.


Will Bachman  30:34

I want to turn back to Harvard. Are there any courses or professors that you had that have continued to resonate with you either personally or professionally?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  30:46

Yeah, absolutely. And I didn’t actually stay in touch with him much after Harvard, but the person who I think was the absolute biggest help to me when I was in college, a history professor named Mark Kish Lansky, and he came at the beginning of our senior year from the University of Chicago. And his area was early modern English history, which is the period of history that I loved studying. And I was working that summer before senior year at Wagner library. I knew that Professor Kesh Lansky was coming to the history department and I knew I wanted to get to know him a little bit. And I was checking out books one evening, and on the screen in front of me when I scanned his ID it said, Mark Kish Lansky, and I said, Oh, your professor Kish Lansky, and he said, Yes. And I started talking to him a little bit. And he said, Well, when’s your break? And I said, I don’t know about an hour, he said, I’ll meet you back here in an hour. Let’s go talk about things. That’s so cool. It was awesome. And he was my shadow advisor for my thesis. When I was writing it my senior year, he was brand new, so he wasn’t going to be my formal advisor, but I met with him. And I talked to him. And I remember this specifically, I wrote the first 20 pages or so of my thesis. And I handed it in to him, I felt this huge amount of relief. And then I came back to see him the next week. And he said, This is great. And it needs to be about seven pages long. You need to learn how to edit your work. Okay. But the process of writing that thesis with him and him giving me that tough love that I needed was incredible. And it was the most valuable thing I probably I mean, I got a lot of valuable things, of course, being in college, but the ability to work with him was one of the most valuable things I could have had and it helps me I think, brings in my mind every single time I’m writing something, I think, Hmm, that’s too many words. I need to cut that down a little bit. I need to think back to what Professor Gish Lansky told me. And I took one of his classes. He taught an early modern English history class I took it with with some of my roommates, and it was, it was wonderful. He was he was great. And, you know, came in as a tenured faculty member and just jumped in with a lowly undergraduate who he had never met before and walked me around Weidner and said, these are the things you need to look at, this is what you need to talk about. He was great.


Will Bachman  33:16

What was your thesis on?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  33:19

Not surprisingly, it was sports related. And this actually came from a graduate student who was irregular and Weidner. He knew the area of history I was studying and he said, there’s a thing that James the First of England issued called the Book of sports, what I said really, and so I looked it up, it’s a small tract and it is the it is the law that said what could or could not happen on Sundays in England? bear baiting, bull baiting, things like that were not allowed on Sundays and in the end when it was reissued by his son Charles, it was one of the causes of the English Civil War Yeah. So I did my I did my medieval English history thesis on sports.


Will Bachman  34:10

How did it help contribute to the English Civil War this is


Amelia Noel-Elkins  34:15

when James the first issue did he did not really enforce it, and when Charles issued that he enforced it, and it made people who wanted to bear bait and bull bait on Sundays angry


Will Bachman  34:27

I want my bull baiting and bear baiting Saturdays yep, that’s my bull baiting day. Exactly. And and that was part of that was a sport. I mean, I thought you were gonna Well, I thought it was going to be a book about I don’t know the early version of rugby or something. But


Amelia Noel-Elkins  34:48

when when you when you say book, right, it’s, you know, it’s a couple of 1000 words. It’s not a book book.


Will Bachman  34:54

Little short little book. So were there any other sports in there and bull baiting bear baiting? That was the big exciting. Oh,


Amelia Noel-Elkins  35:01

now you’re trying to make me think from like 30 years ago, I’d have to go back and look at okay, it’s up on my shelf. I’ll pull it down and take a look at some point.


Will Bachman  35:09

Sports that couple 1000 words on bull baiting. Alright. It means and you’ve already talked about the so you had several jobs. You know, in college, you were working for the athletic department worked at widen your library. What was it like working at widen your library? How did how’s that affected you?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  35:28

I loved it, it was perhaps the greatest undergraduate job ever. Um, so


Will Bachman  35:33

this was not what I was expecting to hear. So I’m gonna say more.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  35:38

So I worked at the circulation desk at Weidner and first of all, the people you meet are just fascinating, like Professor Kish Lansky, but also, I mean, you know, we would have to go into the stacks and retrieve books for for people and the things you learn just walking through the stacks. And I’m, you know, as a history major, right. I love context. I love hearing about things. And so, so like every single book you pull for someone is absolutely fascinating. It was a little bit more challenging when we had. So I was an evening supervisor. We had a period of time, I don’t know if anyone remembers this, where there was someone going through the stacks of Weidner and slashing out the insides of books, and then putting, yeah, so when I was an evening supervisor, sometimes we would see the Cambridge Police walking into the stacks with their little cup of coffee, because they were sticking out trying to find the books last year. So very interesting working there in the evenings. And then I spent a little bit of time in Cambridge after graduation and was able to continue to work part time for for the library while I was there. So it was it was a little bit of a post college fun job, too.


Will Bachman  36:49

So it sounds like you were not just, you know, getting the books, but you would kind of look at them, and maybe have a chat with the person and ask them about the research. And it sounds like you were you know, providing a bit of a value add maybe,


Amelia Noel-Elkins  37:05

yes, that that was fun, too. Interesting. It helped me surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, helped me later in my career. One of the things that was happening during that period of time is that we were also taking a lot of books out of Weidner and putting them in the Depository library. So it would take a day or two to get the book back. I was on a planning team. And people were mad, they didn’t want their books. But these are books that hadn’t been in circulation for years, right. But books, they didn’t want the books in a depository library, they wanted them there in the stacks so they could see them. I was on a strategic planning committee for the library at Illinois State and it was the same conversation, we needed to make room in the library. And no one wanted their books in an offsite deposit library.


Will Bachman  37:52

It’s a it’s something that we’ve lost a bit with, with books being scanned and available on Google books or whatever to that kind of interaction, that serendipitous sort of interaction that you get.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  38:03

It is and college libraries are different now. Right? There’s the more social and collaborative space and coffee cafes and things like that are are the future of college libraries.


Will Bachman  38:17

I’m so glad I asked you about your college jobs. That was really cool. Amelia, for listeners that want to follow up with you or just, you know, catch up, reach out, where can they find you online any links that you’d like to share in the show notes?


Amelia Noel-Elkins  38:30

Well, I am old fashioned and still on Facebook. And so I think a lot of my college friends are with me on Facebook, but also on LinkedIn. You can find me probably easiest there. The School of the Art Institute just went under a website renovation and so we don’t have our full staff directory up yet but the so LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram are probably the easiest.


Will Bachman  38:53

Fantastic Millia thank you so much for joining. This is really a great conversation. I enjoyed it.


Amelia Noel-Elkins  38:59

Thanks. It was good talking to you. Well