054 – Thinking Free with Lisa Camp

054 – Thinking Free with Lisa Camp

Lisa Camp - podcast

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[In This Episode][Guest Bio][Additional Notes][Text Transcript]

In This Episode

How does a small town girl become an associate dean in a college of engineering?  Do you have to get a PhD to have an important position in a university?  What is ThinkBox, and why should we care about it?  Join us as we consider the idea space within universities on today’s podcast.

This is the podcast where we talk innovation.  On today’s podcast, we are speaking with an innovative Associate Dean who thinks regularly about the free exchange of ideas within the university, which reminds me of a great quote by Alfred Griswold in his “Essays on Education”.  He said,

“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.”

I had the great honor to go to college as well as to graduate school, and I’m quite certain bad ideas can only be banished by better ideas.  This concept was born in the heart of a university.  Alfred Griswold was the 16th president of Yale University and had quite a bit to say about a concept in higher education we call “Academic Freedom”.

The concept of academic freedom and I became great friends while I was in graduate school, and I believe with all my heart there should always be a respected place in society where all ideas area accepted in with open arms, shaken around until they get dizzy, and then the ones that can stand up on their own get to stay until better ideas come along.  Here in America and the west, the university has always been that place.

Many new ideas are being run through the testing grounds of universities these days, including makerspaces, the hottest technologies, and every other imaginable idea.  Here at Table Top Inventing we are particularly excited about Inventing, Making, and using a full body experience to discover deeper learning.  However this week, we want to give a shout out to all those amazing professors and educators who have helped shape who we are and what we do.  If you’re curious about what we do, visit InventingZone.com to find out.

Our guest today is Lisa Camp.  Lisa is the Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives in the Engineering School at Case Western Reserve University.  I have a soft spot for Case because it is my alma mater for graduate school, and Lisa shares some of the cool things that are happening at Case and other universities around the country–particularly around makerspaces and the free exchange of ideas.  Without further delay, let’s find out more about Lisa.


About Lisa

2014 Dayton C Miller Awards

Lisa is a native of Senecaville, Ohio and attended Baldwin-Wallace University and Case Western Reserve University. She earned a Baccalaureate in English and a Master of Science in Organizational Behavior and Development. Lisa is currently the Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives in Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.  In this capacity, she helps the Case School of Engineering identify and support projects that build off of faculty core interests, aligning those interests to funding trends, internal and external partners, and
emerging policy.

Prior to joining Case Western, Lisa served in leadership positions at Cleveland State University, operated her own grant development consulting company, and worked at a Washington, DC firm helping faculty from small liberal arts colleges understand how to engage with Federal grant agencies and large national foundations. For over 20
years, Lisa has worked with a variety of institutions of higher education throughout the country to help faculty and administrators position ideas for both internal and external support.

Lisa has presented at numerous national conferences on a variety of topics, such as the role of strategy in research development; how to support student innovators in a regional ecosystem; and managing
industry, higher education, and nonprofit organizations on large projects. Locally, she has been a guest on ideastream public radio and speaks at a variety of community events and programs, frequently focusing on manufacturing and making in the region. She also is co-author on a book entitled, The End of Academic Freedom: The Coming Obliteration of the Core Purpose of the University.

In addition to her career interests, she is the proud mother of 17 year old Jimmy and 14 year old Douglas, who make her laugh daily and keep her grounded in life’s most important moments. She and her husband Jim live with their boys in Avon, Ohio.

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What is the Purpose of an Education?

“It’s about living a strong life.  It’s about living a life of curiosity.  It’s about opening up new worlds.”  —Lisa Camp

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Lisa‘s Favorite Quote

 “You have to start with a vision.  There has to be passion behind it. It’s not about the money.  It’s about making a difference.  And then there has to be a set of skills and abilities that enable you to work through adversity and to manage with ingenuity as you strive to touch people’s lives and change the way people live.”  –Richard Miller, Ph.D., President, Olin College of Engineering

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About Teachers 

During the second quarter of my freshman year at college, I was in an honor’s course taught by a music professor (I was not intending to be a music major).  One of my assignments was an essay on a topic I can’t remember today, but it was something that I did very quickly the night before and personally thought was quite good.  I received a D on that paper.  To the professor’s credit, he knew it was probably the first D I had ever received (I was a straight-A student) and asked to see me after class.  I remember him being so kind and so sincere, but he said, “Lisa, it is time we get you to think.”  He didn’t want regurgitation of information; he wanted brain-hurting, stomach-churning thinking.  It was the first time I understood what higher education and higher learning really was about, and it became a defining moment in my life-long quest of learning.

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 Something Lisa has made recently:

I am not a traditional “maker”, but a wanna-be maker.  I grew up in a small town in the country and learned how to roughly use tools for minor fix-it situations–hammers, saws, drills. I took industrial arts in high school and still have that napkin holder 25 years later! I could run a rototiller and still know how to plant and tend a mean garden (my tomatoes are small this year–a sign I need to spice up the soil next season!).  But I’m fascinated by the new tools available in the many maker spaces popping up around the country.  3D printers, laser cutters, etc., etc.  They kind of scare me, if I were to be honest.  A hammer–I can pick up and bang.  A laser cutter–I actually need to put my mind in a different digital mode that isn’t necessary intuitive to me. So I’m learning that process of being fearful and afraid and intimidated all over again as I slowly think about how to use these new tools and how to introduce my kids to them.  

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Something Lisa has learned recently:

It is a never-ending process to me.  Some people get energized by participating in sports or theater or running races.  I get my most enjoyment in life when I am learning.  New topics.  New people.  New places.  At 45 I still have so much to understand, so many topics that are unfamiliar.   


Additional Notes



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Full Text Transcript – Coming Soon!

Soldering Pic“When I stepped on that college campus, I was blown away.  My life was changed, because up to that time information was very limited.  There was no internet, and we only had two TV stations.  I just didn’t know what the world meant.  I didn’t travel.  I’d never been outside of Ohio.  So when I got on this campus, I was around professors, and I was around libraries, and I was around books.  My mind was just blown in terms of what was out there.”  —Lisa Camp

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