“With real feedback, effective adjustments are possible.”
― Chris Hutchinson, Ripple: A Field Manual for Leadership that Works
In the current environment within the HSU family, open dialogue between concerned constituencies and the administration and trustees has all but broken down. Current faculty and staff (and even many students and alumni) do not feel secure in sharing honest feedback regarding recent changes within the university. We believe the administration and board should Create Open and Safe Forums To Discuss University Changes.
This would contribute to a better way forward not only for faculty, but other concerned parties. The administration and trustees could easily provide open forums for students, alumni, faculty, staff, and donors to give direct feedback to the trustees without interference of HSU administration or fear of retaliation for employees.
HSU’s leadership could also easily host numerous Zoom calls and phone conferences with expanded space for Q&A at different times of day to boost wide participation.
If trustees begin to allow faculty, students, alumni, donors, and even reporters into open board meetings, they could even have a time in their regular sessions for open/public comments.
ACTA’s Feedback Regarding The Need For Open Dialogue
Nobody doubts that real adjustments need implementation at HSU. As the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) pointed out in the their own letter to HSU trustees,
“Campus perception seems to be that the processes developed to assess, revise, prioritize, and, in some cases, close academic programs (including HSU’s general education program) did not appropriately encourage faculty participation. It would be wise for the board to address this perception by communicating clearly with the community at large and describing in detail the board’s deliberative process for academic program review.”
Dialogue with faculty is incredibly important moving forward for the health of the university. What would it take to create this type of dialogue? In our view, HSU has nothing to lose in terms of creating safe and secure space for honest feedback. Such feedback not only requires active listening, but also entering into conversation. ACTA wisely observed,
“Hardly anything, moreover, is more vital to a university’s success than faculty morale. Professors lead academic programs, oversee the curriculum, have full control over students’ experience in the classroom, and engage students in mentorship activities outside of class. Maintaining high levels of faculty morale in times of financial pressure is difficult. When institutions of higher learning face daunting challenges, especially budget challenges, university leaders must work to strengthen shared governance. This requires a high level of transparency about the problems facing the institution, persistent communication with stakeholders, and the diligent adherence to established policies and procedures.”