Work In Progress - June 19, 2016

  • Monday, Jun 20, 2016

In the past few weeks, people have asked, “So things must be pretty quiet on campus, right?” Not quite…
Monroe Street
The early part of summer brings facilities projects, including landscaping the entrance to Sonderegger along with new speed bumps along Edgewood College Drive, among others. (And consider yourself warned—those speed bumps are no joke!) Campus looks great, and the residence hall project remains on time for opening in August.
While some days are a little slower, there are a fair number of groups on campus. This week, for example, more than 200 educators from the Madison Metropolitan School District were on campus for some professional development opportunities in the area of English language learners. Other events on the calendar:
•    Eagle Enrollment Days
•    Youth Leadership Forum
•    Wisconsin Business World
•    NIFEL
•    PowerUp
•    Adidas Tennis Camps
•    Wisconsin Youth Symphonic Orchestra Camp
•    Edgewood College Retired and Previous Long-Term Employee Reunion Reception
•    Incoming Freshman Summer Social
Special thanks to all of you—too numerous to name--who make these events happen. 
Dominican Colloquium
Last week, I attended the Dominican Colloquium, a biennial event bringing together leaders, faculty, and staff from the 19 Dominican colleges and universities in the United States. I was thrilled to be accompanied by a number of members of our community. In particular, our community strengthened the colloquium through a number of presentations, including:
Welcoming New First Year Students to the Dominican Tradition, Sue Pastor, Associate Director of COR; Bonnie Sierlecki, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies; John Kibler, ESL Coordinator; Jake Griffin, Assistant Professor, Biology; Daniel Mortensen, Lecturer, Philosophy & COR; Donna Vukelich-Selva, Associate Professor, Education.
Preparing for Tomorrow’s Reality: A Changing Landscape in Higher Education, Tony Garcia, Director of Diversity & Inclusion; Derek Johnson, Director of Freshman Admissions
Highlighting our Dominican Heritage in Community Celebrations, John K. Leonard, Professor of Religious Studies; Maggie Hopkins, O.P., Vice-President for Dominican Mission.
A Dominican Model of Partnership, Suzanne Otte, Doctoral Writing Specialist, with Roxanne Davies, Associate Vice President, Mission & Institutional Effectiveness, Barry University.
Vocational Discernment in the Dominican Tradition: Lessons from a Community of Practice, Shawn Johnson, Director of Career Development; Mary Klink, Director of Spiritual Life; Leigh Maxwell, Associate Professor of Communication Studies; Kris Mickelson, Dean of the School of Integrative Studies.  
A number of attendees, including some of my fellow presidents, participated in one or more of these sessions—and I heard uniformly glowing reviews. Please join me in thanking these members of our campus community for their willingness to share their experiences with colleagues from our sister Dominican colleges and universities!
We continue to keep a close watch on enrollment numbers for the fall; as you will recall, tuition revenue accounts for the vast majority of our operating revenue for the year. Summer net revenue is projecting slightly ahead of our budget targets—that’s not final yet, and the projected amount does not appear substantial enough to merit celebration, but at least we appear to be poised to begin fall from level or slightly better.
Fall full-time enrollment will likely be lower than expected; graduate enrollment appears on track to be higher than expected. We will continue to monitor these figures and to actively work (both though recruitment and retention) to improve them in upcoming weeks.
Perhaps more importantly, we continue to pursue activities that we believe will have a positive long-term impact on enrollment. A few current examples:
•    Our investment in the undergraduate admissions area this spring is expected to have a positive impact on the fall 2017 class. 
•    Recently updated articulation agreements with Madison College will make it easier for students to transfer here from Madison College, and provide a point of departure for deeper partnerships that are in the process of being developed. 
•    The Adult Education Task Force has developed a set of recommendations about how to revamp the Adult Accelerated program, more than a decade after that program was introduced, to better meet the needs of today’s returning adult students.
As I mentioned in my last communication, the President’s Council and Cabinet have continued to work to advance our strategic framework. The feedback received from you—at January Seminar, February College Assembly, and through departmental and committee input near the end of the semester—has helped to inform next steps underway. Over the next few weeks, we will:
•    Develop and revise draft definitions of outcomes to the three key strategic themes that have emerged: student learning, inclusion, and community impact. 
•    Articulate a framework of 4-7 key topics (i.e. a strategic framework) to help us advance toward our (still emerging) vision for the future.
•    Sharpen the vision statement for 2027.
I look forward to reengaging our campus community in fleshing out the framework in greater detail during fall semester!
Strategy has certainly been one area where the Cabinet has spent a great deal of time… surpassed only by the time we’ve spent on the topic of inclusion. Jim Gray, a consultant in a number of leadership areas including diversity and inclusion, facilitated a day-long focused meeting of the Cabinet in early June. Over the next month or so, the Cabinet will be working (with the participation of others on campus) to advance on a number of fronts, including:
•    to identify ideas from the recently-completed campus climate survey that can be acted upon immediately, 
•    to explore how to better coordinate our work in the area of inclusion,
•    and to implement any actions that may be necessary in light of recent communication from the US Department of Education to colleges and universities nationwide around transgender students.

Now More than Ever
I feel frustrated to once again offer thoughts and prayers to communities and families whose lives have been lost and torn apart because of violence. Yet here we are again, sending our deepest sympathies to such families after the shooting in Orlando last weekend.
While the geographical location of this event may seem distant, the emotional and psychological toll is all too immediate for many—in particular, members of the LGBTQ community, individuals who already have ample reason to feel less than fully safe in our society. 
We cannot unwind what happened in Orlando. 
As an educational institution, though, we can have an impact on the future. We can support members of our campus (and local, national, and global) communities who are often marginalized, beginning by creating an environment in which all members of our learning community feel safe. We can make sure that the educational experiences we offer cultivate the awareness, knowledge, and skills our students will need to build a more just and compassionate world—and each of us can improve our own awareness, knowledge and skills. We can continue to pursue creating a campus culture marked by candid, thoughtful, and respectful dialogue—in contrast to a society so quick to move to violence of both words and action.
And I believe we'll continue to do these things, because our world needs us to create such a learning community now more than ever.