Editor’s Note — Throughout the spring, summer and fall 2023 terms, Curt Bright, videographer in University Communication and Marketing, worked with the Nebraska Alumni Association to highlight the deans and their respective colleges at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. This video and Q&A is the first in the resulting series, “Downtime with the Deans,” that ran in Nebraska Quarterly. Each month, a vignette from the series will be featured on Nebraska Today.
Andy Belser is the dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. He finds focus and peace through meditation.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not wearing your Dean hat?
I meditate for an hour in the early morning before I start my work day. On the weekends, I often meditate twice a day.
How did you start meditating?
For me, it was a slow process. I started about 30 years ago, but I didn’t do it regularly. Like a lot of people who try meditation, I had a hard time keeping up with the regular practice of it. And I certainly had a hard time doing it for very long. So, it was a start/stop process that I would return to, often wishing I had more discipline, and I would fall away from it when I got busy.
What mental or physical benefits do you derive?
I feel so much more settled in myself. Being a dean is stressful work. If you are naturally empathic, as I tend to be, it can be hard to feel too much as I listen to others at many meetings. Meditation seems to naturally help me to listen quietly, and to not have to respond. It also helps me listen more deeply – to the other person, and honestly, to myself.
What three wishes do you have for your college?
One, I would wish to more deeply integrate our programs across disciplines. We are so strong in so many areas in every school and in the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. Students really long to learn and work across disciplines.
Two, I would wish for more support for graduate fellowships, career services for all of our students, and for a whole new system for our academic advising.
Three, finally — I would wish for us to have new and strong partners across the United States and internationally. Partnerships with industry, with other academic institutions and arts organizations have many benefits for our students, faculty and staff.