Wise Words from the VP, November 2019

Nov. 5, 2019

In our work and in our lives, we all want to feel that we belong and that what we do matters. A feeling of community – that we’re all in this together – is an effective foundation for our happiness. Research shows that happiness drives success in every area of our lives, not just our work.

The referenced media source is missing and needs to be re-embedded.
Raj Raghunathan speaks to Division staff at kickoff on Sept. 11.

Professor Raj Raghunathan, from the McCombs School of Business, touched on these ideas during the Division of Student Affairs academic year kickoff last month. He discussed his research as he teaches it, and as included in his book, If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? 

Professor Raghunathan encouraged us to nurture what he calls the “seven habits of the highly happy.” The seven core exercises include defining and incorporating happiness, expressing gratitude, being kind and generous, living a healthy lifestyle, being more trusting of others, forgiveness and mindfulness.

So how do we get there? Through a concept Raghunathan calls the MBA:

  • Mastery: taking personal responsibility for happiness through our own thoughts and feelings.
  • Belonging: exhibiting kindness and generosity, reciprocating with trust with trustworthiness.
  • Autonomy: taking ownership of our own judgments and decisions.

He also encouraged us to find opportunities amidst our busy lives to disconnect from technology and venture out into nature. We work on a beautiful campus and getting out of our space for a break or walk is good for us. 

The autonomy Professor Raghunathan described as ownership for our decisions, actions and biases aligns well in my mind with President Fenves’ new initiative — Honor Texas — focusing on ethical conduct through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness and respect.

The referenced media source is missing and needs to be re-embedded.
Chief Compliance Officer Leo Barnes speaks about Honor Texas at the Student Affairs Leadership Team meeting on Oct. 9. 

It’s not just what we do, but how we do it. Ethical shortcomings erode trust both inside our institution and in the greater public. 

As a university, we are committed to reflecting on and expanding our own integrity through programs and conversations. The goal is to help our entire university community recognize the ethical repercussions of our decisions and actions.

Growing as a team means that we must be willing to look closely at ourselves to create the kind of environment where we can all be proud to belong. Look for more opportunities for discussions every one of us and opportunities across our Division to work together on these vital issues.



Soncia Reagins-Lilly

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students