Rodney's Bookshelf

I'm excited to share with you some of the books I've been reading recently that I've especially enjoyed and found rewarding personally and professionally. They have all captured my interest for different reasons, and I've learned so much from these extraordinary authors. Below is my "take" on what they're about and what they have to offer. I hope you find something here to spark your curiosity and creativity as well!

Currently Reading

Books on the shelf

being included

Author Sarah Ahmed explores and dissects diversity in higher education through both her own experience and interviews with others working in the field of diversity. Her research reveals a common gap between "diversity" and how it actually feels to members of the institutional community, along with a disturbing ability of diversity to hide racism. This book pushed me to think critically about an extremely important feature of a learning community - one that requires an unflinching commitment to meet challenges head on but that holds the potential to positively transform a culture.

you can do anything 

The liberal arts help drive the vitality of universities by encouraging qualities of curiosity, creativity and empathy. You Can Do Anything demonstrates how having a strong grounding in these characteristics - essential ingredients for lifelong learning - positions college graduates for success. It's the role of public universities to prepare their students to live meaningful and productive lives, and to me, that starts with an intentional plan while they are in college.

the second machine age 

Technology shapes our daily lives, impacts the global economy and transforms the way universities deliver a high-quality education. In this ever-changing technological landscape, authors Brynjolfsson and McAfee state a stark case for how and why humankind must be successful in this new machine age. It's about learning to leverage technology responsibility and to not be afraid. This is a perfect case study for how universities can remain relevant.

designing you life

Designing Your Life

by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Authors Burnett and Evans provide a model for designing lives, which I believe, at its core, is what public universities should do. BGSU is not in the business of granting degrees, we are in the business of supporting students and empowering them to achieve their dreams and define their lives on their own terms. It is incumbent upon us to educate our graduates to do well, but also to do good. Designing lives does not stop at graduation, it's an endless pursuit that provides a purposeful experience and makes a difference.

the new education

Author Cathy Davidson lays out a roadmap for higher education to evolve to best prepare our students. She makes the case that, to regain the trust of the public, we must revolutionize teaching and learning so the next generation can navigate the future so they can do their part in driving the vitality of their communities.

the power of moments 

The Power of Moments

by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Elevation, insight, pride and connection drive memorable and positive moments. The Power of Moments taught me the importance of curating an experience that sets you apart. It is often a timeless moment, either small or large, that changes lives, that sticks with people. I would even argue that education can be such an experience, and we cannot lose sight of our responsibility to create meaningful moments for each individual in our learning communities.

obstacle is the way 

The Obstacle is the Way

by Ryan Holiday

Focusing on what a person can control and inspired by Marcus Aurelius, author Ryan Holiday provides a perspective on how to face adversity. The reader learns from past leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Amelia Earhart and Steve Jobs on how not to be overwhelmed by challenges, but to overwhelm challenges. To me, this book is a helpful design-thinking approach to overcome obstacles. As Holiday shares, it is imperative to see clearly, act correctly and endure and accept the world as it is - because we gather strength as we go.

where good ideas come from

The world's greatest inventions and services started just as ideas that people had. Author Steve Johnson tackles where these ideas come from, what kind of environments promote this type of creativity and how we spark these groundbreaking solutions that shape humankind. Johnson says it best, "Chance favors the connected mind." This book is a journey that provides new knowledge about the roots of innovation and useful strategies for cultivating our own creative breakthroughs.


Author Guy Kawasaki believes that enchantment transforms situations and relationships. His playbook showed me how mastery of the art of enchantment defines you. It's a practice and an effort that occurs inside and out of the classroom, one that our students experience during their first campus tour to the moment they cross the graduation stage. To me, enchanting is creating an unforgettable educational experience that demonstrates our relevance and excellence to the world. Kawasaki is an influential thinker in the world of entrepreneurship and was a memorable keynote speaker in our Sebo Series on Entrepreneurship.

coddling american mind 

The Coddling of the American Mind

by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

We must prepare our students for the road, not the road for our students. Authors Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt take their readers through the three untruths about fragility, emotional reasoning and the battle 'us versus them.' I was struck by their observations for wiser universities – a roadmap to pursue truth, and with that, an understanding that our students and faculty will disagree with one another, but that makes each of us better. It is that type of dialogue and thinking which demonstrates the power of a learning community. While Lukianoff and Haidt’s book provides a broader perspective on this next generation and society as a whole, it is Dr. Alice Dreger’s quote that resonates with me the most: 'Evidence really is an ethical issue, the most important ethical issue in modern democracy. If you want justice, you must work for truth. And if you want to work for truth, you must do a little more than wish for justice.' In a time where our nation is so divided, we must come together with a mutual respect, understanding and a will to learn from one another to bring about productive and meaningful change.

brave companions 

Author and historian David McCullough's stories never fail to inspire me, each one highlighting the vision, vitality and courage of people who have changed the world. I believe that our students, who are learning how to live meaningful and productive lives, have the ability to continue the progress set by the individuals McCullough has written about. I encourage everyone to read this book and aspire to such achievements. With a clear purpose and support, anyone can have the kind of success that could one day be written in a portrait on history.

the wright brothers 

The Wright Brothers

by David McCullough

Author and historian David McCullough tells the story of two courageous Dayton natives who taught the world how to take flight. The Wright Brothers sums up the American spirit of innovation and is a personal account of how grit and determination can spark what may seem as the impossible - a message I hope students and faculty never forget.



by Edmund Morris

This book spoke to me as a prime example of things not always being what they appear. Most people know Thomas Edison as the inventor as the incandescent lightbulb, but author Edmund Morris shows us the Edison we might not know - Edison the philosopher, the chemist, the botanist, the founder of nearly 250 companies, the holder of more than 1,000 patents. Most people know BGSU as a tier-one, comprehensive public university, but we are so much more than that, including a strong and active high-research university - a role that is more important than ever as several measures of innovation and invention show decline.

the great mistake 

I fear that higher education has lost the trust of the public. The United States is at a crossroads. Can we fix this "great mistake"? Our students are falling behind their international peers in attainment. Now more than ever, there is a national doubt of higher education. Author Christopher Newfield believes that we risk economic inequality and the fall of the middle class if we do not come together and act. This book provides a path forward for us to rebuild and reverse this mistake, one that requires action aligning our purpose to create public good.

on the future prospects for humanity 

On The Future

by Martin Rees

Author Martin Rees' view on our rapidly changing world, and the existential risks we are facing, has never been more relevant. He argues that our future is tied to science - a stand we are seeing played out on a global stage every single day. The sciences Rees identifies - biotechnology, cybertechnology, robotics and AI - will positively impact what is yet to come, and as a public university, for the public good, BGSU could play a major role in educating the future leaders of those fields.

strategic diversity leadership 

As a global learning community, it is our differences that make us stronger. Being inclusive and valuing the diversity that is woven into the fabric of campuses makes us who we are. Author Damon Williams' framework for elevating the strategy around diversity positions us to be more effective in fostering a healthy and successful culture in a 21st-century society. This book pushed me to think more creatively on how to make excellence inclusive.

Updated: 06/17/2024 12:34PM