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Thursday, March 31, 2016

A shared responsibility to transform lives

The transformation of lives that emerges from the liberal arts is a shared and collective responsibility and privilege. Our CLA Roadmap goals are motivated by these transformative effects. In the college administrative offices, my goal is for us to build an environment and provide the resources that best position faculty and staff to thrive as you pursue your important work. We’ve made progress but still have more to improve.

My thinking about the Roadmap and what we do in the college offices and throughout the college is driven by considering whether what we are doing is pursuing (yes, relentlessly) the highest level of research and creative excellence, providing outstanding opportunity for our students, and delivering tremendous service internally as well as to our alumni, stakeholder, and communities.
As I noted, this is a shared responsibility and privilege of us all. I touched on some of these themes back in the fall in my State of the College address, and raised a set of questions then that are worth mentioning again here.

We transform lives near and far through our research and creative excellence. So, ask: How is your department assisting and recognizing scholars doing first-rate research and creative work, and how are you helping your fellow colleagues who might be needing to gain or regain traction on their research? How are you helping graduate students do great research? What can be done better?

We transform the lives of students by providing curricular, experiential, career, and other opportunities. So, ask: What is your department doing to transform the lives of our students? What can it do better or different for both undergraduate and graduate students?

We transform the lives of communities with service by sharing our research. So, ask: What is your department doing to share its expertise beyond the borders of campus, and to learn from the expertise beyond our borders? What can be done better?

There is wonderful and inspirational work happening every day in this college, and these questions are being answered in impressive fashion. Continually asking these kinds of questions across the college--in departments, centers, administrative offices, and so on--pushes us to do even better.