Cabinet for Institutional Change
A few weeks ago, Beth and I met with a bunch of you on campus in a roundtable on collegiality, in an effort to find some actions the university could take in order to improve civil communication and collaboration on campus. I feel that the meeting was very successful, with around 80 faculty, staff, students, and administrators all discussing ways of making Humboldt a better place to work and learn.
Before getting into discussing our town hall roundtable, I do want to acknowledge that we are all aware of the recent faculty vote. As a member of the cabinet, I feel that it is an illustration of how frustrated many people are on campus over this issue, and underscores the need to address it in a constructive manner.
We began the roundtable with an informal snack and social time, and then brainstormed. During the brainstorming sessions, we asked four basic questions, each asking for action items that could potentially: (1) communication on campus, (2) help to develop a more supportive campus culture, (3) improve collective interactions between the various stakeholders, and (4) better define collegiality in general.
The results were interesting and informative. For instance, just about as many participants thought that an important part of collegiality was the ability to take action in spite of disagreement, as believed that all stakeholders should share equal power in decision making. These ideals seem somewhat at odds, but it does illustrate that we need to have an open and frank continuing dialogue about decision-making on our campus.
The most popular action items discussed at our meeting, among many others, were:
1. building a comprehensive campus web calendar which would include all events on campus, where anyone can go to find out what is “going on,”
2. improved mentorship and leadership/communication training
3. founding a faculty/staff club on campus
4. setting aside a designated time (such as 12-2 on Fridays, perhaps) when no classes or regular meetings would be scheduled and all members of the campus would be encouraged to attend some weekly arts, lecture, or governance event
5. Campus “social network” similar to myspace or facebook
6. Regular campus “tours” and “open houses” allowing everyone a chance to see what everyone else is doing, with participation of all community members encouraged
7. Collate a booklet of “best collegial practices”
Some of these ideas would provide some great benefits at marginal cost, such as the campus-wide calendar. Others will require careful discussion, planning, and implementation. Our group plans to form an informal “task-force” to discuss these options further and to suggest an outline of an implementation plan, which would then need to be vetted and approved by the campus governance system.
These are by no means the only changes we can make in this area, and if you have more ideas of your own, or feedback on these possible changes, please drop me or Beth an e-mail or suggest it on uservoice on this website.
Detailed notes on the meeting: Analysis_of_HSU_Collegiate_Meeting_Notes_4.29_.09_.doc and HSU_Faculty_Staff_meeting_4-29-09.pdf