A Saudi female graduate of a prestigious American university told me that on a visit to the United States last month, she sent a note to the president of the university expressing her intent to visit him. A prompt reply came back and added were the suggested names of other senior administrators of the university whom she could meet.
Apparently, the president Googled her name and work experience. She said the meeting was informative and productive and the president and the other officials present outlined the achievements of some of the Arab and Muslim women who had graduated from the university.
The university officials listened to her suggestions of enhanced cooperation and future plans between her establishment and the university. “Frankly speaking, I was amazed at the level of interest that they expressed,” she said.
Listening to this story, I could not help but wonder at the attitude of our own universities and institutions and their behavior toward others.
Would one of our university presidents meet a graduate who after a decade decided to visit him? Would senior officials listen attentively? Would they produce offers of cooperation?
I say this because over the years I have heard a lot of negative comments about the attitude of heads of departments, professors and others in our educational institutions. Of course, there are exceptions, but the general opinion is that students do not get the attention that they deserve or the required respect.
Is it because we are a patriarchal society? I don’t know. My explanation is that many people in high positions be it academia or the corporate world assume airs and strut around like peacocks. To them, I say: Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Be humble, polite and gracious. The chair you are sitting on is temporary!