Getting Started

The Cabinet did not get started until the second week of the semester.  The vetting process for selecting members and the need to replace one member took considerable time.  Since then we have had two initial meetings, a day and a half retreat and regular meetings each week, sometimes twice a week.  The first meetings were devoted to getting oriented and beginning to think about process.  Being told that you are in charge of coordinating institutional change for the campus isn’t easy to wrap your head around.

It really wasn’t until the retreat, when we had more time, that we were able to bring some structure to the process.  I attribute much of the progress we made at the retreat to hiring a facilitator to help structure the discussions and to help keep us focused.  I wasn’t going to bother with one but several of members felt it was important and they were right.

The focus of the retreat was to agree of the process principles for coordinating the change effort, the focus areas and to agree on process.  We finished the retreat with good drafts of the first two but we are still struggling with the last.  It took a lot of time to discuss the principles and the focus areas.  The basics of the principles were clear to everyone:  transparency, good communication and collegiality.  Transcending boundaries, staying focused and committing to action became important as we talked.

The focus areas took a lot of discussion.  I had handed out a long list to the Cabinet before the retreat that they had discussed when I was out of town.  They had condensed my list and added some concerns.  Going into the retreat, I felt it would be difficult to come to an agreement of the areas of change.  I have to say, I am very pleased with the end result.  I think they clearly represent the major areas on which we need to focus and they are formulated in a way that allows broad discussion about how to proceed.

Process was a different story.  That discussion came toward the last of the retreat and we had hoped that one process would fit all the focus areas.  But it soon became clear that process would vary with area.  In the area of student success, for example, there are committees currently working on several parts of the project.  Other focus areas have yet to get started and clearly need broad campus input to get started.  We are still struggling with process for the areas and will return to that after the opening meeting on Monday, March 9th.

That meeting has taken our time for the last week and a half.  I’m not sure we are quite ready for Monday, but we felt it was important to do before spring break.  We need to begin to engage the campus in the change effort.

Posted by Robert Snyder at 07:18 AM
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