Community Levees Workshop Report
August 26, 2008
Feedback on the session was quite positive. Sixty-five employees attended and demonstrated their willingness for and commitment to engaging in dialogue and self-reflection around sensitive issues. A highly diverse group was convened and openly discussed issues of status, privilege, race and civility; unfortunately personnel from Facilities and Public Safety were underrepresented. Those attending independent of title, level or status indicated that they considered these conversations vital to sustaining a community of high standard, embodying a dedicated social conscience. Hope was expressed and suggestions were made as to how, through collective efforts, silos could be broken down and the community transformed into a more open, inclusive, consciously created, culture of respect. Many individuals expressed great pride in their work and a willingness to take ownership for their behaviors - acknowledging that each “one of us is the institution.” Participants expressed positives about nurturing leadership and talked about the informal structures through which work gets accomplished. There was also a desire for more such events bringing cross-function members of the community together for more personalized interactions on a first name basis. There was some concern however over “preaching to the choir”; there is concern that such appeals continue to attract the same group of active members while some remain uninvolved or disengaged and/or discontent. Increased outreach was viewed as critical to improving collective introspection and community building around diversity, culture and communications.
Items expressed as challenging included that some perceive a “culture of lateness” as the norm. The press of being over-tasked has led some to treat fellow employees and/or students with a lack of respect; as individual rewards supersede collective team efforts the culture of individualism has been perpetuated. Some cited institutional elitism and a lack of faculty involvement as contributors in making personnel feel less valued or respected. As a result of multiple “silos” channels for getting work accomplished can remain ambiguous. A lack of personal accountability has led some to ignore policies and deadlines. Some participants reported that the “hierarchy” seems entrenched and that the college remains isolated and/or fragmented from the geographic and larger academic community. Lack of “caring” for employees and especially students (whom many acknowledge to be the client constituent that their jobs revolve around) led some to wonder whether and how diversity is being embraced. Communications remain a problem with some participants expressing that the depersonalization and reliance on e-formats add to a lack of trust or lack of assuredness in confidentiality, especially in regards to tackling difficult issues. Some questioned how news gets disseminated and why there seems such a faculty/staff schism. Participants expressed a desire to know of what “good work” is happening throughout the college so that they could become more involved. Finally there was the voicing of concern over what is perceived as an inequitable application of the nepotism rule. There is also a perception that over time there has been a decreased representation of diversity at the mid and upper management levels.
respect to supports desired from management, participants expressed a desire
for a more transparent and favorable “TC identity.” They’d like the brand to be
Recommendations – suggestions emanating from the dialogue groups
• Make intentional efforts to improve civility [attend to each other, make efforts to know others by name, stop oneself from being negative, hold self accountable, have more personalized in-person communication, where possible rely less on text and email, treat others as one would like to be treated]
• Build pride [treat others as stars, take a more responsible role in the community and national agenda, showcase efforts, improve dissemination of efforts, create more inter-department initiatives]
• Improve Communications – Processes and Procedures [enhance commitment and resources for the development of processes to ensure that “things work” and that what’s been identified as “broken” gets addressed, create and improve open internal communications, bring interests of those at the bottom of hierarchy to those at the top, differentiate what gets broadcast where – potentially separating free resources from community need to know emails, reexamine those policies and procedures that are not working and commit to addressing them]
• Create more on-going public dialogue [have more outreach to ensure attendance at community events, conduct more discussions that are results oriented, have systematic, open, ongoing dialogue that enables voices to be heard, include opportunities for external participation, have more of these kinds of facilitated community events, encourage faculty involvement]
• Use internal resources for benefit of community [implement more systematic means for sharing what community research is in process, use within institution expertise to address systemic issues, situate TC in larger institutional system, have more transparency of agendas and teaming with “across the street” efforts, create departmental liaisons to support and disseminate and generate shared initiatives]
• Facilitate shift from exclusivity of research oriented emphasis to include innovative practitioner expertise and leadership for change [maintain both focus and balance in augmenting the TC research enterprise by becoming and serving as an exemplar change agent, within TC as well as the local and larger global communities, work on shifting current perception that the TC academic research emphasis places practitioner expertise and leadership as less valued on the institutional agenda, create more proactive leadership in assisting cultural change process in “becoming” a learning community – one that exemplifies self-reflection, high standards, valuing of employee members as well as students. Action learning groups, inclusive of faculty and students, might complement this process.]
• Ensure “ Local” Accountability for positive culture change [[create ongoing evaluation and assessment of the culture changes happening within the TC community]
The June 19th event generated positive energy and momentum.
In response to participant request for follow-up sessions the Levees
Reflections will be continued over the coming AY 08-09. Also, in response to
participant requests for greater dissemination of information and improved
communications, notes from small group discussions will continue to be
processed in Management Network meetings and reported back to the community.
The plan for the coming year again incorporates utilization of the Levees
documentary and curriculum as a stimulus. Management Network, along with groups
such as CCD, Senior Staff, and Professional Staff Executive Committee will also
take actions in an effort to address other bullets itemized above. Dialogue is
essential to building community. These shared reflection sessions are positive
steps in contributing to greater familiarity and respect across titles and
lines; they’re offered in support of the development of a more civil and
respectful community. October 15th will be the next or second in the series of