I went in to work last Tuesday just to remind everyone what I look like and make sure they hadn’t changed the lock on my office.
Around noon I attended a “town hall meeting” on the University’s strategic plan, which is currently under draft. It’s eight plans in one, each addressing specific topics such as technology or flagship programs.
The real grabber, though, was the report on the University’s mission. I’d been off campus for a month and a half, so everything kind of seemed new and fresh to me, including our well-worn mission statement — the promotion of “a more just and humane society.” It was refreshing to be reminded of it, and invited to critically examine it. Also refreshing to remember that unlike a business, profit is not our bottom line. Indeed, the report pointed out that our mission is in direct conflict with good business sense. We serve poor students, and that’s just not as profitable as catering to an economic elite.
The mission report was authored by a committee chaired by my friend and neighbor and fellow blogger Michael Homan. In speaking with him the previous weekend I got that old familiar sad cynical pessimistic vibe that I often exude myself. Sometimes we feel that our work isn’t really accomplishing much. We give it our best shot, but suspect it’s all for naught, that the fix is in, it’s all rigged, and we’re just jumping through hoops.
As a counterdote to that, I wanted to commend Michael (and his committee members) on a job well done. You inspired me, at least. You reminded me of why I work at a university, and why I’m proud to work at this university in particular. Thanks for that.
Note: The strategic planning reports can be read here.