Women discuss 'managing priorities' at WMC Education council sponsors 2-day event

June 13, 1993|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,Contributing Writer

Managing priorities can be difficult. So when 50 caree women were asked Friday if they have been able to achieve balance in their lives, not one of them stood up.

The women, all administrators at two- and four-year colleges in Maryland, were at a workshop called "Managing Multiple Priorities."

The workshop was part of a two-day annual statewide conference of the American Council for Higher Education/National Identification Program at Western Maryland College. More than 100 career women attended.

Four panelists leading the workshop shared personal glimpses into how they juggle their careers, relationships, needs for renewal and growth, and desires for the future.

They included married and single professionals, those working toward advanced degrees and those with 20 years of teaching, mothers and women without children.

"We're not going to talk about how to do three things at once, but how to sustain balance," said Velva Cooper, Western Maryland's assistant director of personnel services, who designed the workshop and co-chaired the conference.

"It's not a new idea. But it's on the minds of people. What is this thing called balance? Do I want it? How do I get it?"

The panelists included Ms. Cooper; Theresa Bryant, executive assistant to Western Maryland's president; Dr. Joan Develin Coley, WMC's dean of graduate education; and Kim Edwards, a doctoral candidate and former residential director of Target Inc.

Their lives seemed to reflect the lives of the conferees, three-fourths of whom indicated they were married with children and one-fourth single, with or without children.

Everybody said she enjoyed her job, but almost no one thought she'd enjoy it eight years from now.

As it turns out, though, managing priorities is as unique as every individual.

So workshop participants were introduced to a scheme that shows balance is possible if one meets four areas of individual needs in organizing personal priorities.

The scheme was presented by Betsy Jacobson and Beverly Kaye in a Training and Development magazine article, "Balancing Act."

The authors suggested grouping priorities: employment and satisfaction inside the workplace, commitment to people inside and outside the workplace, development or planning for the future and nourishing well-being outside the workplace.

"We need to be keeping better sense of all four areas, making choices and enjoying the choices we make," Dr. Coley said.

In four groups, participants shared personal issues and proposed ways to balance the four elements.

For employment satisfaction, one group suggested that, to find personal time and to do more with less, women might ask for help from others, encourage others and find what resources are available on their campuses.

Barbara Livieratos, of Howard Community College, suggested, "choose something new" to develop a bright future.

"I needed time to myself, so I chose international cultural exchange," she said.

She spent 18 days in Russia. "It did wonders for me when I got back," she said.

Issues affecting a healthy commitment to others include working too many tasks at once and being unable to separate work time from personal time.

The group suggested making lists to assess choices to ensure commitment was kept to family, associates and friends.

Roxanne Farrar, also of Howard Community College, suggested a quick fix by taking a short day trip to nourish well-being.

"Just a change of scenery" will do the trick, she said.

"We need connections and time to talk with others in intelligent conversations," Ms. Edwards said. "Make appointments to feed yourself mentally, emotionally and physically."

As the workshop ended, the women appeared to be refreshed and enthusiastic.

"They will leave with at least a couple things to change, to help balance priorities better," Dr. Coley said.

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