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Work In Progress - May 17, 2016

  • Tuesday, Jun 7, 2016

Thanks to all of those folks involved in end-of-academic-year celebrations--I won’t even try to list all of the events or the people involved, because I would inevitably forget one or more events or individuals. Each event requires a great amount of time and effort to execute well, and I am grateful to those individuals who make sure that each event is a memorable experience for students, faculty and staff being honored and the family and friends who celebrate with them. Commencement last weekend was a great cap to the academic year—it was great to see so many of you there to celebrate with our graduating students!
 

Deepening partnership
On Friday, May 13 (nothing to be afraid of!), Madison College President Jack E. Daniels and I ceremonially signed two documents that deepen the long-standing relationship between Madison College and Edgewood College. One document updates the existing liberal arts transfer agreement, clarifying that students who complete the liberal arts associate’s degree at Madison College will be automatically admitted to Edgewood College and more clearly outlining scholarship opportunities for qualified students. The other document provides guaranteed admission into the Edgewood College honors program for students who have successfully completed the honors program requirements at Madison College. 
 
Many people played important roles in putting all of this together, and I appreciate their efforts. In particular, Bonnie Sierlecki (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) deserves special recognition for her work to bring the honors agreement to fruition.
 
As the path to a degree becomes less straightforward for many students, it becomes increasingly important for us to facilitate smooth transitions. I expect that we will continue to seek other partnerships with Madison College and other two-year institutions that attract students, assist them in a successfully transition, and support their achievement. 
 
FLSA and Overtime Regulations
As I shared a few weeks ago, the College—like all colleges and universities and just about any other organization who employs more than a handful of people--is preparing for implementation of a substantial revision to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Human Resources office is coordinating our institutional preparation by working with individuals who may be affected by this change and their supervisors. Their work is complicated by the fact that we still do not know with certainty the nature of the changes or the timeline for implementation. I know many questions remain unanswered. Until we know what is being proposed and have the opportunity to determine appropriate next steps, that uncertainty will unfortunately remain. At this point, we will continue preparing to take whatever steps make sense after the Department of Labor makes its announcement…which I expect literally any day now.
 
Strategy
Thank you to the many of you who took time to participate in generating feedback to the strategic framework the Strategy Steering Group prepared and distributed a few weeks ago. I realize that the timing of that request came at a particularly challenging time of the semester, and I am grateful to those of you who were able to spend some time discussing this and providing feedback. 
 
Processing this information was the primary agenda topic for a Planning & Budget Committee meeting on Monday, May 16. Both the information we’ve gathered from across campus and the Committee’s work with that data will inform Cabinet discussions in early June. I’d like to share a few important observations:

 

  • The framework is far from perfect (one might even call it a work in progress). The reason we sought feedback at this point in the process is so that we could incorporate that into future iterations…and, not surprisingly, each iteration will have a greater level of polish and detail. 
  • The Committee spent most of its time on Monday discussing the topic of student learning. It seems clear from the feedback we received that student learning needs to remain central in articulating our strategy—no surprise, to be sure. It also seems clear that it is important to ensure that our conceptualization of learning encompasses a comprehensive learning experience and environment—including the classroom, certainly, and as well as the many other areas that provide educational experiences and support student learning.
  • While the need to situate student learning at the center of the framework was evident, it was also apparent that the other two themes—inclusion and reciprocal community impact—also enjoy broad support as worthwhile outcomes.
  • Engagement, beginning at January Seminar and through the most recent feedback, has helped to inform the direction our strategy is taking. And you can expect the opportunity next fall to be once again asked to advance this process!

Campus Space
In an earlier Work in Progress, I shared a number of areas that are certain to see changes (Dominican Hall, for example). In addition, the President’s Council has identified several acute space needs that need to be addressed for fall (office space for new employees or whose those responsibilities have changed, for example). While solutions to those specific circumstances are being identified, we are also looking at opportunities to make improvements to other areas identified by the Space Advisory Board. Susan Serrault and her staff are working, along with anyone who would be directly affected, to explore potential options; in fact, I suspect some of you may have already been approached to discuss some of these possibilities. 
 
Parking & Transportation
The Parking & Transportation Task Force has advanced a set of recommendations that we will implement for 2016-17 academic year. As always, we hope to minimize the number of cars parked on campus and maximize turnover of those parking spaces we do have.  The recommendations developed by the Task Force include an offsite storage lot for student parking and additional covered and uncovered bicycle parking.  In addition, modifications to the existing bus pass program, shuttles, and cab transportation will be necessary to accommodate the offsite storage lot. You can expect to hear more about specific details as those are finalized in the next few weeks.
Please join me in thanking the Task Force for their work to identify alternative modes of transportation and creative solutions to parking. Members of the Task Force included:

•    Mike Metcalf - Director of Transportation and Security (Chair)
•    Erin Bykowski - Assistant Director of Transportation and Security
•    Michelle Kelley - Registrar
•    Pam LaValliere - Director of Human Resources
•    Hollie McCrea - Area Hall Director
•    Darla Peterson - Executive Assistant
•    Jacob Griffin - Assistant Professor Biological Sciences
•    Mallory Pirus - Student Government Designee
•    Kristine Fruehling – Transportation Services Coordinator
•    Stephan Gilchrist – Program Director Sustainability Leadership
 
Summer plans and wishes
Last week, my daughter, Erin, asked me if my work changed at all in the summer. I said it did, in three ways. First, the schedule changes—summer hours and vacations are part of that change. Second, the nature of events change—the decreased number of events at the College in the summer is replaced by more events on behalf of the College in our local community. And, finally, meetings change—I go from lots of focused shorter meetings during the academic year to more extended meetings with the opportunity to reflect, learn, and plan forward. (You will likely be relieved to know that I did phrase my answer to Erin differently!)
 
I’ve found that the best time for me to be away from campus is shortly after the end of the academic year, since later in the summer (like by July 1) my mind has pretty much moved to the upcoming academic year and beyond. I’m taking some vacation time in late May and then in late June. In addition, I’ll be away from campus and/or in extended meetings a fair amount in the next few weeks:
 

  • On May 18, the President’s Council will be spending a day together reflecting on the past year, drawing forth lessons learned, and exploring how to apply those lessons moving forward.
  • The Cabinet will meet all day on June 2. This meeting will focus on the topic of inclusion—not at the institutional level (which I consider part of our strategic planning work) but at the individual and group level. During that time, I expect that we will be working to deepen clarity around and mastery of the skills and behaviors we need to have as senior and academic leaders. On June 6, that same group will convene to advance strategy work.
  • I’ve been invited to facilitate a professional development session at one of our sister WAICU schools on June 8. And on June 9, I—like some of you—will be headed to the biennial Dominican Colloquium at Aquinas College (Grand Rapids, MI).
  • Immediately upon my return, I have a couple of golf outings (Catholic Charities and Eagle Open), with a trip to Sinsinawa for an afternoon of meetings mixed in. (Hey, I never claimed this was all hard work!)

Summer looks different for each of us. Whatever your calendar looks like, I hope you find the opportunity to recharge personally and professionally at some point between now and when students return in August. And I’ll keep you posted with one or two of these updates during the summer. 

Until then, please know how much I appreciate your work to cultivate a challenging, supportive, inclusive learning environment for our students!