The February off-site meeting of the Academic Leadership Team (ALT) took place on 28 February 2013. While the primary purpose of the meeting was to continue our discussion of the evaluation of scholarly and/or creative activities, the meeting started with an update on student affairs presented by Dean of Students Annamaria Wenner. One of my major goals for 2013 is to bring academics and student affairs closer together. Annamaria had presented some of the information to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees, but it’s been awhile since the ALT heard about the many projects being led by our colleagues in Student Affairs. Some of the important topics discussed by Annamaria included occupancy rates of our residence halls (they will be at an all-time high next year as we continue to attract record numbers of students), students with disabilities, Wentworth Risk Assessment and Prevention (WRAP) and medical marijuana. It is important to note that although the medical use of marijuana has been approved by the State of Massachusetts, it has not been approved for use in the Wentworth residence halls!
The rest of the afternoon was spent on further developing a shared understanding of the definition of scholarly and/or creative activities. We examined the differences in the ratings of the 120 examples of scholarly and creative activities that were graded at the previous off-site (see my blog, Review of Evaluation of Scholarly and/or Creative Activities, Part 2 – posted 01 March 2013). We all agreed that context is important, as is the discussion which takes place between the faculty member and the department chair when reviewing the Faculty Planning Worksheet. The ALT discussed extensively and in detail the application of the rubric that is used for the qualitative terms in faculty evaluation. Small interdisciplinary groups were used for most of these discussions, with the small groups reporting their findings out to all.
Before the discussion, I discussed Building a Culture of Excellence at Wentworth. This is true for students, faculty and staff. As we improve, we must have honest and straightforward conversations about how we can achieve higher performance. These aren’t easy conversations, but they are important ones. The vast majority want to improve. A short video adapted by RSA Animate from a talk given by Daniel Pink entitled “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” was shown and discussed. The three primary drivers are autonomy, mastery and purpose. Individuals strive to be empowered to work as they see fit; they want to be more than just good at their jobs, they want to excel; we need a purpose greater than ourselves to achieve our best. It’s a great video (RAS Animate is fantastic!) and you can watch it on YouTube at:
Starting next month, the ALT will begin working on improving academic advising. That should lead to a series of interesting blogs in the future.