Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Courageous conversation and courageous action

Today begins my journey as chancellor. I’m thrilled to be here, and I’m laser-focused on helping to ensure that our 14 universities are places that every student can achieve success—an affordable degree that leads to a sustaining career and an opportunity to contribute to their community. And I do mean every student, regardless of where they come from or how improbable their success might have once seemed.

That is my passion, and that is our mission. It’s that mission that brought me here to Pennsylvania to help move the System Redesign forward so that future generations have even more opportunities to thrive and contribute to our economy and to the health and well-being of our commonwealth.

First things first, I want to find out more about ‘us’—about who we are and what we can become. I’ll be visiting all 14 universities this fall to hear from everyone—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and others—to begin a dialogue. I want to hear your stories, listen to your ideas, and understand the challenges and obstacles that we face—that you face. I want to know what makes us good, to know about the issues that keep us from becoming better, and to know how we can address those issues.

Through that conversation, let’s work together to foster a culture in which we are unafraid to engage in courageous conversations—conversations that don’t eschew the difficult questions or the difficult answers. Conversations that draw upon something remarkable about our culture, which I have observed and been inspired by even before my arrival—our desire to respect one another with openness, honesty, a willingness to offer one another trust, and unfailing civility.

As we get to know each other, you may see me as an unabashed optimist. I am. I can’t help myself. I see great opportunities for our universities, for our System, and—especially—for our students. I do not believe we face any obstacle that cannot be overcome with our collective talents and creativity. You’ll also hear me speak about transparency. This is something that truly drives me as a person and as a leader. You’ll know exactly where I’m coming from on every issue; and I want the same from you. This blog will serve as one of the many ways for us to exchange ideas, and I’m hoping you’ll use it to provide feedback.

So, let’s start today. I encourage you to share your thoughts on any issue; no subject is out of bounds. If you need a prompt, then know that top-of-mind topics for me right now are: What do you need most from me as your Chancellor? What topics should I cover when I come to your campus? Is there a specific question we should address? Is there a specific opportunity or challenge we should tackle?

Help me kickstart this grand conversation by posting a comment below or emailing me at chancellor@passhe.edu.