Several years ago there was a popular television show tracing scientific milestones and change.  The show’s premise was that seemingly isolated events over time connect with others to produce innovations or societal transposition.  Something somewhat like that may be happening here, or so it seems to me.

Senior administrators must connect with those they lead if they are to understand their mindsets and gauge the pulse of contentment.  It’s hardly an exact science, but the more one tries to stay in touch, the better the odds of understanding what people are thinking and how they’re feeling.  I believe several issues have come up recently and that they may have diverted us from what we should be focusing on as our primary mission.  When taken individually, some of these issues might be manageable (and others might be nothing more than an annoyance).  But when several issues crop up simultaneously, they produce what I refer to as the perfect storm of administrivia.  It is time now for institutional transposition.

For the past two years I have held a series of meetings called “Conversations with the Provost.”  While these meetings were informative and enjoyable, I don’t feel that they enabled me to meet with and engage with a significant number of faculty and staff.  Therefore, I’d like to find an alternative format through which to connect.

I will consider coming to meetings of faculty and staff by department or building or concerned groups (no mobs, please).  The purpose of such gatherings would be to listen and to discuss whatever issues are on people’s minds and to think through possible remedies.  Perhaps these meetings will also afford me an opportunity to explain my view of the role of the Provost and how I interact with the Deans, the President, and the BOV.  Now that I’ve been at UMW for a while, I’m in a much better position to understand my role and how it needs to connect with others if we are to achieve success in our academic endeavors.  I’d welcome the chance to share those thoughts with anyone who’s interested and to also hear about concerns, problems, issues, etc.

No one can connect in isolation, so I’m hopeful that we can get together to talk about what’s on your mind and do so in whatever format will work for you.  Contact my office  – let’s try to set something up.

I’ll end this message with one final point about connections.  A few weeks ago I sent out an open letter to the faculty in which I talked about the importance of undergraduate research.   I shared what I believed to be some noteworthy accomplishments and programs at UMW, and I lamented about the fact that we seem not to get the recognition for these achievements.  Several faculty contacted me with suggestions about how to better communicate our successes in this crucial component of undergraduate education – an important part of what makes Mary Washington an excellent liberal arts university.  Unfortunately, due to fall break and advising schedules, we have been unable to hold a meeting with the marketing/public relations folks to talk through some of those ideas.  But we will.  Please be assured that I have not lost interest in this issue.  I expect very soon to “connect” with the faculty and staff members who are interested in helping us do the best possible job of getting out our message about undergraduate research at UMW.

One Response to “Connections”

  1. Werner says:

    Trying to find information about undergraduate research at UMW on our website is futile. It should be a simple process to put up a page of all the funded undergraduate research projects at UMW because that information is located in the CAS Dean’s office (funded by UMW). it just takes someone to create a webpage template and update the page with each new award of an Undergraduate Research Grant. If the problem is not haveing enough time to do this, why is this the case? For several years now someone has come to the 1st dept chair meeting of the year and asked for information about student research, etc… so this could be promoted. Each time the chairs have complained that this information is readily available. To date there is no visible sign that anything has been done. Apparently get this information out is not a priority.

    Another example: Under the old UMW website it was fairly easy to find the URES 197 page that listed the various URES projects. I just spent several minutes minutes trying to find this page on our new website to no avail. Frustrating!

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