Abha Bhandair—Striving for Leadership

Abha Bhandair—Striving for Leadership

MUM alumna Abha Bhandair

At the MUM graduation in 2002

Speaking at the Women in Leadership conference at Bowling Green State University in Perrysburg, Ohio

In 2015 MUM alumna Abha Bhandair took the position of director of equity administration and benefits accounting at Brown & Brown Insurance in Daytona Beach, Florida, and she immediately decided to make changes. She streamlined and automated certain processes that were in place for decades, which caught the attention of the company’s leadership.

For thinking outside the box and taking risks, Abha was nominated to speak at the Women in Leadership conference at Bowling Green State University in Perrysburg, Ohio, last October. She also received a Distinguished Presenter Award at the Brown & Brown Senior Financial Leadership Presentation meeting.

Abha came to MUM in 1999 from New Delhi, India, to pursue an MBA degree. She wanted a career in finance and accounting, so in her senior year she decided to study for the CPA exam. At the time, MUM wasn’t offering an accounting program yet, so Abha pursued the certification in her own time and passed the test on her first attempt.

“MUM was a great experience,” said Abha. “When I first started there, I didn’t know anything about Transcendental Meditation, but I learned a lot, and the twice-a-day TM practice added some peace and quiet to my busy day-to-day life.”

After graduating from MUM with an Outstanding Student Award in 2002, Abha earned a master’s degree in taxation from Florida Atlantic University. Since then, she has been striving to take leadership positions, such as manager of Accounting Services at Newport Group. Abha sees herself moving all the way to the top and serving as chief financial officer or chief accounting officer someday.

“I enjoy challenges in my career, and I enjoy conquering those challenges,” she said. “So that’s what drives me most—being able to make a difference.”

Dylene Cymraes—From Accomplished Writer to Writing Student

Dylene Cymraes—From Accomplished Writer to Writing Student

MUM student Dylene Cymraes

Discussing the revision process in a composition class

Dylene reading her novel, Moving Home, at an MUM event

She has published four novels, co-authored several non-fiction books, and written or edited over 50 screenplays; now she is studying creative and professional writing at MUM. Why? Although Dylene Cymraes has been a professional writer for over 20 years, she never had the time to attend college while raising four children and traveling the world as a military spouse.

Dylene learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique in 2014 and came to a Visitors Weekend to accompany a friend. Two years later she and her husband moved to Fairfield from Maryland so she could finally fulfill her lifelong dream of being a student.

Since she taught herself the art of writing, Dylene missed out on the opportunity to workshop and refine her work in a classroom. Now she really enjoys being able to receive feedback from her teachers and fellow students.

Dylene was concerned about returning to school after a 30-year hiatus in formal education. “I was worried whether I could keep up with the course load,” she said, “but my TM practice has been a huge help. My blood pressure is down and I am healthier than I have ever been.”

Participating in the diverse demographics of the MUM campus is another advantage Dylene appreciates. “I love being in school with younger people. I love keeping my mind challenged and being accepted.” Dylene contributes to the MUM community by serving as a residential advisor in her dorm and being on call at the MUM Writing Center. In addition, she is fiction editor of the new online literary journal Metafore, founded by MUM students.

“Dylene is a teacher’s dream,” said Professor James Fairchild. “Not only is she the most mature writing student I’ve had at MUM, but she’s a model student in every way.”

Dylene has made a living as a writer but, more importantly, she writes for the love of it. Once she graduates, she hopes to teach workshops and share her passion with others. She is currently working on a new novel, which she will be drafting in an upcoming two-month novel writing class.

MUM Faculty and Admins Hone Academic Assessment Practices at Chicago Conference

MUM Faculty and Admins Hone Academic Assessment Practices at Chicago Conference

Conference attendees, from back row, left: Craig Pearson, Sue Brown, Jane Schmidt-Wilk, Isabel Matzkin, Paula Armstrong, Mark Ellinghaus. Front row, from left: Janice Denton (Assessment Academy Scholar and mentor to the group), Chris Jones, Amine Kouider.

A team of eight MUM faculty and administrators, led by Professor Chris Jones, attended a conference in Chicago in late October focused on student academic assessment. The event was sponsored by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of colleges and schools.

The HCL is the agency responsible for the accreditation of colleges in the north-central U.S., which includes MUM.

The University gratefully thanks donors whose contributions helped make MUM’s participation possible.

The conference, called the Assessment Academy, is offered to institutions which are committed to creating comprehensive assessment systems with the aim of improving student learning (the Assessment Academy, however, is not officially a part of the accreditation process).

The ‘Quality Initiative’ Project

“What the Academy attempts to do is help institutions improve their assessment practices,” said Professor Jones, leader of the MUM team. At the event, faculty and administrators shared ideas and insights, and benefited from colleagues and experts in the higher learning community, many of whom brought significant experience in assessment.

Photo by Amine Kouider

Assessment is the focus of MUM’s Quality Initiative project, which is required as part of the University’s next accreditation visit, in 2020. “The purpose of this initiative is to improve student learning on campus by better equipping our faculty and administrators to assess outcomes,” said Professor Jones.

MUM began the four-year project two years ago and, in the most recent training session, team members evaluated their original plan and reported on progress made.

Three Levels of Improvement

The Quality Initiative project aims to improve the assessment of learning outcomes on three levels: in the classroom, in academic programs, and at the institution level.

Over the past two years, with the help of students, faculty, and administrators, the team has begun gathering evidence on student learning outcomes and, among other initiatives, introduced a student learning chart that will eventually become part of every class syllabus.

Nine essential learning outcomes were identified, which undergraduate students are expected to acquire by graduation. They are: the development of consciousness, health, holistic thinking, creativity, critical thinking, communication, problem solving, teamwork and leadership, and local and global citizenship.

Photo by Amine Kouider

“We want to make sure every course in every program supports these learning outcomes, through what we’ve called the curriculum map,” said Professor Jones. “By the end of the project, we want every program to have an assessment plan, which is their plan for measuring outcomes at the program level.”

The ultimate goal of the initiative is to help students make substantial progress in the achievement of the nine essential learning outcomes, as well as advance in other outcomes necessary for their academic program.

“The main point of this initiative is to improve student learning on campus by better equipping our faculty and administrators to assess student learning,” said Professor Jones. “You can’t ‘improve’ what you aren’t able to measure. Assessment is all about measuring learning. We look forward to continuing to improve at raising standards and improving student learning on campus.”

IRA opportunity

IRA opportunity

Articles like this: The Tax Advantages of Qualified Charitable Distributions From IRAs can be very informative for people who are approaching the age (70.5) where they must take mandatory distributions from an IRA account.

Recently Brad Mylett, MUM Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations sent out a letter describing  this opportunity:


“Your support, along with that of so many others, has been the foundation of the growth of Maharishi University of Management all these years. While the MUM Annual Fund is the core fundraising mission of the University, we are also now engaged in the vital business of building our endowment to secure the long-term future of the University.

As you have most likely seen from our recent mailings, there are many ways that universities build their endowments. Legacy giving, in all its different forms, is a key component of any school’s endowment fund.

I want to bring to your attention one effortless, effective, and timely way in which you could provide additional support for MUM. Usually, beginning at age 70½, anyone who holds a Traditional IRA or 401K and no longer works must take an annual required minimum distribution (RMD) from their account. This distribution is taxable income.

One option is to transfer this distribution — or a portion of it — directly from your retirement account to MUM and avoid paying taxes on the increased income. Doing this may help to lower your income, social security, and capital gains taxes. In many cases, it can be a win-win situation. We have enclosed a small brochure that explains in more detail how this can work.

If you have a plan with a current required minimum distribution and would like to explore this option further, please fill out the back of this brochure and return it to us, give me a call directly at (641) 919-6063, or contact our office at (641) 472-1180.

We hope that you will consider this effortless approach to supporting MUM — the home of Consciousness-Based Education — with an end-of-the-year philanthropic gift.

Brad Mylett

NOTE: If you can’t print out and send in the form on the brochure or prefer a web form, use this:

IRA Opportunity Form

New Security Lighting for Women’s Dormitory

New Security Lighting for Women’s Dormitory

A complete upgrade and replacement of the exterior security lighting at MUM’s main dormitory for women, Hildenbrand Hall, was completed this August, with thanks to donor funding. Shown are the new Lamp Standard at the East entrance and an example of the motion-activated flood lamps, creating a perimeter of security lighting around the entire building.

There were broken light fixtures and a number of completely unlit dark areas around the building with the old lighting system; these issues have been remedied. Any dark pockets have now been eliminated. Walkways and entrances are now well-lit for safe pedestrian movement. Motion-activated technology has been utilized, so the bedrooms windows are not overly exposed to bright light at night.

LED Lighting Features High Energy Efficiency

All the new light fixtures use the latest LED technology for energy conservation. LED lighting is today’s most efficient way of illumination and lighting, offering an estimated energy efficiency of 80-90% in comparison to traditional lighting and conventional light bulbs. This means that about 80% of the electrical energy is converted to light, while 20% is lost and converted into other forms of energy, such as heat.

LED Lighting is Eco-Friendly and Sustainable

MUM also benefits because  LED lights are completely free of toxic chemicals and are 100% recyclable, helping to reduce the carbon footprint by up to a third. Most conventional fluorescent light bulbs contain a multitude of materials (for example, mercury) that are harmful to the environment.

The long operational lifetime span means also that one LED light bulb can save material and production of 25 incandescent light bulbs. A big step towards a greener future!