A Change of Pace

August 27, 2006

School has started and the students have arrived back on campus. Life is all a-buz with lost freshmen, returning students arriving late to campus and to class – it all seems so normal. And yet, after a quiet summer it also seems so hectic. During that first week of school we reacquaint ourselves with our colleagues who have been gone all summer, solve lots of last minute student problems, get the postings up on Blackboard that we had intended to get up all summer, finish the last of the writing that we promised ourself we would complete in June, get assigned to more committees than desired, try to figure out how to get out of the office early – after all summer really isn’t over, it’s still hot outside. And through all of this, it still feels good to be back in the swing. The beginning of the fall semester is full of promise and of challenge.
Dan at work
Higher education is a great job. There are few jobs as rewarding and providing so much freedom. It can have its challenges and the last couple of years we experienced a few. I’m anticipating a more mellow year, but one with lots of internal focus, refinement, and yes, challenge. Not so much internal to me, but internal to the department. After two years of addressing university requirements for change, responding to those requirements, nearing completion of the process; it’s time for us to look inward again and to focus our energies on our vision and direction. I could spend a long time talking about direction, focus, and vision, but suffice it to say that it requires constant attention. It’s a little like driving down a busy interstate, there is an air of comfort and confidence, but there is also a need to be vigilant. You never know when someone is going to cut you off or the unexpected accident down the road or unplanned construction diverts traffic. All will force you to alter your way, but not your destination. This is where we have been. We have altered our way and in some ways altered our vision, but now the road looks clear and we need to look at our vision. Visions change and they need to be responsive, but they do require discussion – sometimes lots of it.

A change of pace is not wholesale change, but an adjustment of change. A change of pace is important in each of our lives. The focus in growth is to simultaneously look inward and outward adjusting our lives to our values and measuring the importance and influence of the external environment. We have done a poor job of this the last couple of years. It is past time to change our own pace and to focus on our future – one that we will have more control over, yet remaining consistent with our college and university direction. It is a balancing act that all organizations face. Where do we place our emphasis, how do we effectively link our future with the future of our university. I am the optimist I have talked about and believe our vision and direction is consistent with the university. A key part of that direction is being able to convey to others our belief of its importance and how it fits in the bigger picture.

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