I just put the finishing touches on the syllabus for the class I’m teaching in the fall. The textbook order went in on time (earning me a gold star from the provost) and I’m excited about greeting the students as part of our expanded offerings at the University of West Florida’s Emerald Coast location.

We’ll deliver the course, Integrated Advertising and Public Relations Concepts, with a mix of in-person, synchronous and online methods. The hybrid delivery will be a test of my technical skills, but will meet student expectations for access and convenience. I’ve tapped some local talent to assist me.

Dr. Mona Amodeo, founder and president of idgroup, a brand transformation and change management firm in Pensacola, will team teach the course with me. Mona’s doctorate in Organization Development and Change, in addition to her 30-year experience in professional communications, will provide priceless real-world insights for the students in the course. We’ll be joined by a newly-minted master’s degree graduate, Anamarie Mixson, who will serve as a teaching assistant and provide contributions in the area of strategic communication (her specialty).

I have continued to teach for as long as I have been in university administration. There is no better place for the president to feel the pulse of the campus than in the classroom. It’s not easy to find the time and the additional responsibility can make for a grueling work week, but it’s worth it. I gain valuable insights into the needs of our students. Many of my peers agree.

John Kroger, former president of Reed College, wrote in Inside Higher Ed, his decision not to teach while serving in administration was a mistake. He said, “If I had to do it again, I would teach at least one class or seminar every year.” He points out that teaching can help presidents do their “day job” more effectively and break down barriers between administrators and students. Most importantly, he notes “teaching can help remind you, when times are tough or complicated, of the essential purpose and value of higher education.” I agree.

As president of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Julie Wollman urged fellow presidents to teach undergraduates, freshmen in particular. She designed a course to help counter the vulnerability freshmen feel and provide encouragement for success at a critical time in their college careers. In an essay for Inside Higher Ed, she wrote teaching is “essential to remembering why we choose to work with college students to begin with, essential to respecting the depth and intensity of faculty work when you haven’t done it in a while, essential to appreciating the striving and the dreams of even our most aloof undergraduates, and essential to recognizing how important it is to have professors who simply but genuinely care about their students.”

I have never forgotten how much I love to teach. It keeps me in touch with my primary academic discipline of communication. For a few hours each week, teaching helps me relate to our students as Professor (not President) Saunders.

Martha Saunders is the president of the University of West Florida.