Making the Vision Matter

We spent a great deal of time this spring reaching out to people on campus who have particular expertise related to the university’s vision.  Because the vision emphasizes being a premier center for interdisciplinary study of the environment and natural resources, for example, we spoke to folks involved in such interdisciplinary initiatives about their strengths and challenges.  Similarly, we spoke to many involved in campus-community partnerships, involved in diversity initiatives, etc.  We also held meetings with those responsible for university budgeting.

Our goal has been to clearly identify the main obstacles preventing promotion and implementation of the vision and to generate concrete ideas for change.  On May 1, we held a two-hour open meeting with about 40 participants, to further brainstorm and discuss such ideas.  As we see it, there are three ways in which we can advance our vision: through budgetary decisions, university-level planning, and university-level promotion.  Below are ideas generated through our meetings and conversations, which address these three ways:

* Budgets of the VPs and President and all of their divisions should develop an evaluation rubric and criteria based on the vision for budget submission. 

* Lowering Barriers for Interdisciplinary Academic Programs and Collaboration – to enable fields of study that cross boundaries between academic disciplines.

* Campus-Wide Sustainability Plan and Office Devoted to Implementation - whereby everyone on campus is aware and participating in its enactment.

* Grant-Seeking and Fundraising Criteria to Advance the Vision – which will supply additional funding to strengthen the existing resources to strengthen planning projects and activities.

* Seasonal Arts Calendar – which focuses on the many venues, departments and activities offered by HSU that advance this portion of the vision.

* Measurable Criteria for Exemplary Community Partnership, Including Tribal Nations – we need to find out what we hope to accomplish as community partners.  And assess our attainment.  We need to determine ways in which these partnership advance community priorities and at the same time deepen the skills and values of our students.

* Adopting and Implementing a Campus-Wide Diversity Plan – the changing demographics of California means that our campus will be diverse, but our our staff, faculty and administrators need to be ready to accommodate the needs of these students or we will continue to face poor retention statistics.

* Clear Guidelines for Vision Related Marketing and Communication Projects – opportunity should be extended to promote and implement the vision and should be budgeted accordingly. 

* Reduce Layers of Decisionmaking and Management – to increase efficiency toward achieving the vision. 

* Institutionalize Annual Activities that Advance the Vision – currently funding has to be raised annually for events that should become recurring line items. 

* Focus on Elements of Vision that are most Distinctive – which may mean campus-wide reworking of the vision in the future.

Progress toward a few of these ideas is already under way. Over the summer, we will begin by taking several others and asking university staff, faculty, and administrators to provide concrete details on the resources required to implement these ideas and how this might be done. 

With this information we will return to the campus community early in the fall for a more focused discussion.  Along with our cabinet colleagues, we plan to develop a final set of recommendations by the middle of the fall semester.  Where there is support, the cabinet will pursue implementation. 

As always, your suggestions about both process and substance are welcome.  We encourage you to discuss any of these ideas on this blog or on the “share your ideas” section of the website. 

A final note: in informal conversation, some have suggested that the dire budget climate precludes taking on anything “extra” like the vision.  In fact, for a vision to have meaning, it must guide the institution in good times and bad; it’s not merely the icing on the cake, but a declaration of the sort of cake we wish have in the first place.  Otherwise, budget cuts would threaten not only the level of resources and quality of the institution – but its very identity. 

~ Adrienne Colegrove-Raymond and John Meyer

Posted by John Meyer at 08:43 AM
Filed in: University VisionPermalink