About Conversation Starters

Greetings Colleagues,

Attached is the first of a series of brief “Conversation Starters” that I will be sharing with you as often as needed.  Special thanks to Professor Lynn Fisher for the suggestion and sharing of your concerns.  A few additional thoughts:

  1. This is intended to provide a vehicle for us to communicate about shared interests and concerns.  Do not hesitate to send me suggestions for topics and issues that you would like to hear about – this effort will not be useful if I alone have to divine what the issues at the forefront of your minds might be at any given moment.
  2. Recognize that as a “Conversation Starter” there should be an inherent recognition that these documents are not definitive or directive by their very nature – the intent is to begin talking about these issues with the hope that the conversation will allow all of us to develop a deeper and more informed understanding about the issues and about how we might deal with them most effectively.
  3. As a means of stimulating conversation, these “Conversation Starter” documents may question or challenge the status quo.  These engagement strategies should not be misinterpreted as formal positions that are resistant to change or impervious to exploration.
  4. At the end of this email is a quote from “Getting from Good to Great” – and the compelling part of that statement for me is found in “operating with freedom within a framework of responsibilities.”  All of us have to function within these frameworks.  There are issues that I, as Provost, am compelled to respond to within the framework of my assigned responsibilities.  Examples are abundant – federal mandates on accessibility, HLC directives on best practices, state requirements for reporting on academic program quality,…and the list goes on, and on, and on.  If we are fortunate, we are able to determine how these responsibilities will be met – and that is where high performing learning organizations find ways to excel.  I know that participation in these conversations is essential if we are to become a higher performing institution.

I look forward to engaging with all of you as we continue to build on our shared commitment to offering our students a high quality and academically distinctive experience both in and out of the classroom.

Dennis R. Papini
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Provost

Disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought who take disciplined action – operating with freedom within a framework of responsibilities – this is the cornerstone of a culture that creates greatness”

Jim Collins – Getting From Good to Great