Friday, April 25, 2014
Working at MUM is a 200% Life    
By Steve Langerud, Deputy Director of Global Development, Legal Counsel
Steve Langerud is a counselor, facilitator and executive coach. He works with people to improve their skills in communication, team-building, leadership and strategic thinking in the workplace. He has worked with over 15,000 people to facilitate effective professional development, career and life decisions and improve their effectiveness at work.
 
Here is what he says about his experience with life at MUM:
 
I have learned a lot since coming to MUM in June. The kindness of faculty, staff, and students have meant a lot to me.  I can be a bit slow on the uptake but you have all been patient as I learn about MUM.  

Most importantly, I remain steadfast in my belief that focusing on 200% of life for both individuals and the University, combined with a solid core of liberal arts and professional skills, is the education for the future. 200% of life means 100% of outer and 100% of inner life.  

In my professional life as a consultant, I daily work with people who have experienced the outer 100% of success in life - money, homes, cars, position, prestige.  But many times I miss in them the inner 100% of life that provides resilience, continuity, and coherence.    


Speach at the High Likes Leadership program

When they become my clients, we know that it is never too late to develop this inner 100% of life.  And we move forward.  However,  I think of when I work with them I become even more aware how fortunate are they who develop this profound stillness, focus, and deep reserve during their college years.  

Recent research shows that happiness is one of the important outcomes of education. Meditation can be the core to crafting creative, resilient professional and personal lives and communities.  This is a product and value proposition of MUM that stands on its own.  I am proud to speak to students and others about the role of meditation in education.

It is exciting to see faculty and staff publishing papers, appearing in the media, and speaking about their expertise at professional meetings.  These activities are the currency that establishes MUM as a convening point for knowledge and practice in higher education and work.  
 
I am eager to see MUM continue the legacy of Maharishi bringing together thought leaders to engage in dialogue about their ideas, opinions, and practices.  MUM is a convening point to explore ideas about education, careers, and the dilemmas of the 21st century.  
 

Steve with the Minister of Bhutan Thakur S. Powdyel

In the fall, I spent two weeks traveling around Iowa on a speaking tour with His Excellency Thakur S. Powdyel, former Minister of Education from Bhutan.  We travelled to two professional conferences, and to Grinnell College, Coe College, and the University of Northern Iowa.  

At each stop, we engaged students, faculty, and administrators on issues of education policy, pedagogy, and school design.  They had heard of MUM and we had lively discussions about the University and Fairfield. Some of them came to visit MUM.

In my work, I regularly speak with people around the country about leadership, career and life planning, communication, and professional development.  While it is never my primary topic, I always get to talk about life at MUM eventually.  People are curious! They want to know about the 200% of life that we deliver here at MUM.

Last week I spoke at the top ranked school for public affairs about crafting a life of meaning, significance, and service.  MUM or mediation was not the main topic, but where I go MUM goes with me.  And, as is typical, usually during a break, lunch or dinner people will summon the courage to ask me: “What is it like at MUM?”  “Do you meditate?”  “Do you think it helps you?”


Steve with K. Thomas, Vice-President of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry

It is exciting to speak about the connection between MUM and preparation for the world of work. Graduates of MUM can: 

  • Speak and write clearly and within their professional context; 
  • Be effective leaders and members of work teams;
  • Manage projects from start to finish;
  • Apply discipline driven expertise in the workplace;
  • Use quantitative skills to understand and make decisions based on data.  

We can be confident that graduate schools, employers, colleagues, and clients of MUM graduates will experience:  high performing people with resilient and sustainable lives; 
people who contribute to the spiritual and economic growth of their workplace, family, and community;  people who thrive in their professional lives.    

Students and families can select MUM as the place to begin a journey that starts inside to build an unshakable core on which sits a life of meaning, significance, and service.  A journey to which each of us as faculty, staff and alumni actively contributes our expertise.  We provide a clear, consistent, and observable narrative about the university and our mission.  


Classroom session at the graduate school
As employees of MUM, we each support this narrative by ourselves but we don’t do it alone.  The collective kindness and caring at MUM is palpable. You have heard about the love prospectives feel when they visit campus.  That love is people.
 
One lasting memory from my early visits to MUM is the light and energy in the south dining hall.  Laughter, bright eyes, big smiles.  Animated conversations between students, faculty, staff, and community bring MUM alive.  

In my opinion, if we are willing to be bold, with our collective energy MUM is poised to take a leading role in higher education.  We will provide a high quality, cost effective, resilient, and sustainable education with tangible professional outcomes for students.  Our crystal clear focus; unflinching self-reflection; and deep commitment to executing a vision will lead us to be a 200% university. 
Life as a New Business Faculty at MUM    
Dr. Anil Maheshwari, Business Department Faculty
I came to MUM a couple of years ago, to become a faculty member in the business school. After my education at top engineering and business schools, I had spent about 30 years working in industry and academia. I had taught at many good universities in the US, and had worked for 20 years in industry including 9 years at IBM. But I was hungry for something else. I came to MUM to pursue my own ‘moksha’, my enlightenment.

There is an unmistakable vibe of tranquility in this place. Everyone is very friendly and compassionate. People who have been living and meditating here for a long time show a strong glow on their faces. All faculty and staff are here to pursue their own evolution towards enlightenment. They are very reverent of Vedic knowledge and the practice of Vedic techniques.

Most of them have been around for a long time. I learned TM about 30 years ago, as a graduate student in India. My wife and I learned the TM-Siddhis program together here at MUM last year. We now enjoy doing our meditation and Sidhi program in the Golden Domes. I am learning more of the pure knowledge of Veda here. I often joke that this place is full of Indians, … and they are all white! Inspired by the spirit of this place, my wife and I decided to visit the auspicious Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2014. An illustrated travelogue is available here.

As business schools in the US go, it is a smaller one. This allows greater interaction between faculty and students. The business school has some very talented faculty, many of whom have earned their PhDs from prestigious schools. We are an accredited PhD granting school.

However, there is much more focus on teaching, and on serving the students. I teach courses in Management Information Systems (MIS) area. My wife is also studying in the business school towards her MBA degree. With a joint appointment across business and computer science schools, I am privileged to teach the Computer Science graduate students as well. I teach a total of about 4-5 courses every year.

I also had an entrepreneurial opportunity here to start a new Online Graduate Certificate program in MIS. The program started in Fall 2013 and is going very well with 9 students in the first cohort. We are looking for a new cohort to begin in Fall 2014 (see mum.edu/MISCertificate for more information and to apply).

We are also starting an MIS Concentration in the MBA program, from Fall 2014. We signed up with IBM’s Academic Initiative program to provide cutting edge tools to our students, for the emerging fields of Big Data and Data Analytics.

There are students from over 70-80 countries on this campus. I volunteer as the faculty sponsor for the South Asian Heritage Club. We hold great celebrations on the big festivals of Diwali and Holi, and events like Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. There are students from all countries of South Asia, including India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. 

Most of the students are very talented, motivated and industrious. Every student on campus is a meditator, and some are also Siddhas. They enjoy a balanced Conscious-based Education, and then look forward to enjoying a meaning and productive life of freedom and prosperity in the US.

MUM offers strictly organic vegetarian food, and is a drug-free, smoke-free and alcohol-free campus. My family feels completely at home in this environment. Everyone eats fresh meals at Annapurna, unless one chooses to cook at home.

We live on campus itself. Everything is at a walking distance. The Golden Dome market is a great on-campus store that serves healthy food items and other necessities. The two Golden Domes are a unique resource for meditation and self-realization.

Most of the university buildings are designed around the health-giving Vastu principles. There are many Vastu houses on campus. We do wish that we can get to live in Vastu housing in due course. We have been enjoying good health, and pray for good health for everyone all the time. For a small town of only about 12,000 people, Fairfield has a lively art scene with many plays and events in the conference center, as well as a monthly Art Walk. There are many different kinds of ethnic restaurants, and there is a wonderful long walking trail. It is also a vibrant entrepreneurial town with many start-up companies in the high-tech area. 
 
Any downsides? Sure. During the winter, we miss the warm weather of Austin TX, where we lived for many years. When needing to travel, we miss the convenience of O’hare airport in Chicago, where we lived for a few years. I sometimes also miss the hustle-bustle and the facilities, of a big city, company or university. 
 
Could MUM do better? Sure. We could evolve our processes a little faster while holding firm on the Vedic bedrock of Consciousness-based Education. Serving on MUM’s Teaching and Learning Committee (TLC), I get to contribute my ideas towards helping move the university’s pedagogical practices forward. Being a newbie on campus, I can effectively act as a change agent. If I can also help in others’ enlightenment, that is a privilege and a bonus.
 
MUM is one of the most pure places in this country. If one loves inner peace and enlightenment, this university is a God’s gift in the form of Consciousness-based Education.
Student Life at MUM    
Samira Abdelrahman, Student Body Vice-President
As I sat in the student lounge yesterday watching the Super Bowl game amidst all the excitement and energy, I became aware of how wonderful of a decision I made in coming here three years ago. The diversity, professors, students, and knowledge have all added to my experience here at MUM. 
 
Looking around the room during the game I was amazed at what I saw. There were people from all around the world: China, Ethiopia, India, Eretria, Argentina, Columbia, Caribbean, and America. We were all there to enjoy an American cultural tradition, but really who doesn’t like to see some of the world’s best athletes competing for the championship. This is what life is like at MUM. Each individual has their own interest or cultural practices and MUM bridges the gap between them. 
 
Here at MUM we operate on the block system meaning you take one course at a time. This allows for student’s full focus to be put towards a single course. Classes are relatively small, which allow for students to receive feedback and individual attention from their professors. Coming here it was comforting to know there were open lines of communication between my professors and me. If I had a homework question, being able to call my professor at their home, showed they had a high level of respect for me. 
 
In addition to supportive professors, I found students here to be just as supportive if not more. The friendships I’ve made here are like none other. They have been built on strong support, love, appreciation, and respect, all which keeps us bonded together no matter what. Ask anyone here what’s their favorite thing about the university, and they will say “the people.” 

As Student Government Vice-President I have come to realize not only am I the voice of the student but the administration as well. Both students and administration look toward the Student Government to share their questions, concerns, and ideas. The same amount of respect I have for a member of the Executive Committee is the same he/she would have for me. One of my main duties on the Student Government is to oversee all the student clubs on campus. It’s amazing to see the wide range of clubs we have for such a small school, it definitely comes with a sense of pride. From cultural cooking to bee keeping and everything in between the focus is on bettering the community. 
Life at MUM is a constant process of growth, but with people always there to support you!
 
What it’s like to live and work at Maharishi University of Management    
Craig Pearson, Executive Vice-President

This morning I met our brand new spring-entry students, gathered together for the first time, at the beginning of their orientation meeting.

As always, these students came from around the US and from a number of countries around the world — Mongolia, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Nepal — all having suddenly relocated, in just the last couple of days, to this improbable spot in the cornfields of southeast Iowa. All but a handful were in Iowa for the first time.

I welcomed them and gave them a little history of the amazing place where they have all just landed.

Whenever I stand in front of a group of new students, I always have the same experiences.

First, I feel honored. These new students had just entrusted themselves and their education — and their future, really — to Maharishi University of Management and to those of us who work here. I feel a renewed sense of responsibility to deliver the best possible educational experience to these promising young people.

Second, looking out at these eager faces, I feel inspired to see friendships developing right before my eyes — relationships that will be close and often lifelong.

I have had students tell me that the friends they make here, even in just the first few months, are closer than any friends they have back home. Not that they feel any less connected with their friends at home, they quickly add — but their friends here are closer because they share such deep common values.

Diversity and unity

We have enormous diversity in our student body. In a typical year we will have students from 80 to 85 countries around the world. Walking around campus is like walking around a miniature United Nations. You hear English spoken with so many different accents (each of them musical, it always seems to me). You see so many different skin colors. You feel so many different cultures.

Yet despite the diversity, most of our students have several things in common.

First is their desire for personal growth. Beyond education in traditional terms, our students are keen to develop their total potential — the full potential of their consciousness, of their brain. They are after spiritual development alongside classical knowledge and skills.

The second value they share the desire to change the world — to make it healthier, more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous.

A third value is their great generosity and happiness, their kindness and caring for each other. On our campus, the world truly is a family.

Visitors feel this almost immediately. During our three-day monthly Visitors Weekends, people often remark that they “feel the love.”

Where does this come from? This friendliness people feel, this spirit of welcoming and acceptance and love, is not because we magically attract wonderful people.

It’s because, over the past 40 years, people in this community have spent tens of millions of person-hours diving within to experience the inner unbounded ocean of peace and bliss. This is a community where thousands of people practice the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs twice every day. Diving within day after day, people naturally radiate peace, happiness, and friendliness.

This is what creates the extraordinary atmosphere that people experience as soon as they step onto the campus — peaceful and progressive, creative and dynamic. 

The best of both worlds

I want to be clear: This is a university. Students come here to study. They want to prepare themselves for successful careers. You will find our students studying many of the same subjects that students elsewhere study — from cell biology to microeconomics, from ethnobotany to environmental law, from data and file structures to teaching elementary social studies, from Native American literature to probability and statistics.

You will also find our students studying new disciplines, such as sustainable living and Maharishi Vedic Science (we were the first university in the world to offer degree programs in both of these subjects).

Our students know why they are here.

Underlying all of this, the faculty and students alike understand that they are part of a grand experiment in education, pioneers of a new paradigm. We see outcomes here that are not seen anywhere else — increased integration in brain functioning, increased intelligence and creativity, and more. We feel it’s only a matter of time before this Consciousness-Based approach is widely adopted, at all levels of education — which will transform education everywhere and transform the world’s future. This imbues the experience here with a quiet sense of excitement and purpose.

Geographically, Fairfield may be in the middle of nowhere — but it sometimes feels like the center of the universe. Or at least like the forefront of something very, very important.

If all this sounds overly serious, spending a few days here will show you that our students are pretty good at having fun outside of class. At the regular open mics, they put their musical and other creative talents on display. Dances, parties, and celebrations are all part of the life here.

But the fun is all within reasonable (and legal) boundaries. Ours is a smoke-free campus, and the campus is also virtually free of the corrosive effects of alcohol and drugs that plague other campuses.

Do we have challenges? Of course. One of them is that our ambitions always outpace the financial support available (although that support is steadily growing). For example, we have just completed a campus master plan which will, over time, transform our campus into something pretty nice to something extraordinary — with sustainably built student residence halls, a beautiful pedestrian mall through the center of campus, an outdoor amphitheater in front of the student center, and much more. But we are confident that as support grows, this vision will become a reality.

I have been here almost my entire adult life, and I have had the time of my life. I have met hundreds of amazing, creative people, more all the time. I have had opportunities I would never have had anywhere else. Just about every day I wish I could wrap my arms around this place, all 371 acres of it — grateful for the opportunity to live and work here, grateful to be part of something that is helping create, right in front of our eyes, a better world.

 


 
 
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