I like to think of myself as a "happy" person. I think a great deal about happiness--about how it needs to be rooted in yourself rather than in your circumstances. If you, at your core, are happy, then changing circumstances cannot affect your happiness. If, for example, I'm happy to the core, and someone then hits my dog with their car (perish the thought)--well, I'd be extremely sad, but I don't think my happiness would shift. Can you be sad and happy at the same time? Sure. It depends on how deep the happiness goes.
I think about this when I think about student happiness. As the Dean of Students, I have the ability to influence MSOE as an institution. I can work with my team to address issues that can enhance the overall student experience. But does that really, really get at a student's happiness? Doesn't a student's happiness go deeper? Of course it does, and that's why we focus on Counseling Services, the Learning Resource Center, TRIO, Servant-Leadership--departments on this campus that get at the depth of student happiness. I'm proud to represent the office of Student Life, because we do the work of helping our students discover and then sustain their happiness. But we can always improve on our work, which is why we continually pursue student feedback.
It's difficult to diagnose student happiness, which is why I think it needs to become a constant part of our institutional dialogue.
Note: Here's a photo of my dog, Lucy--may she never wander in front of a car.