Thursday, August 30, 2007

Meetings and Committees

Many employees at the College spend a great deal of time in meetings. It's important that our time in meetings is meaningful, as they are a primary means of communication and a major symbol of our culture. How we interact and run meetings is a direct reflection of how we think, act, and feel at the College. When communication and trust become a more tangible feature of our culture, the general dynamic of meetings will change. Hopefully, people won't be sitting in and observing other people's meetings...which has a feel of "monitoring" and distrust. Rather, a move to representative governance that is inclusive and well-communicated will serve as a catalyst for positive change.

One thing that I'm changing at the College is differentiating a "staff" meeting versus a "committee" meeting. Staff meetings, like the Academic Department head meetings, deal with a variety of topics that group members need to work on as a team. I asked that the Academic Department Heads meet more frequently for less time to maximize their work together. In addition, it is generally a closed a meeting with no one "observing or monitoring". Rather, if anyone wants to participate in the meeting, all they have to do is make their request to Dr. Engel and the agenda can be adjusted. In addition, people will be invited to help inform the work of the Department Heads so they can make more informed decisions. Instead of publishing minutes and posting them to a network that very few people will access, "salient points" and agenda summaries should suffice if they are posted on a common website of some kind that would include College Senate activities and subcommittee work, Strategic Planning Committee notes, Executive Team salient points, Academic Department Head salient points, and other relevant information related to decision making and governance at the College.

These are some new directions and ideas I have related to meetings, committee work and the time spent on committees - what do you think? What experiences have you had and what does it feel like when you serve on a group that works well? I'd appreciate your insights regarding committee work and overall function at the College. Please respond to presblog@mvcc.edu. Thanks.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I have quickly learned that Mohawk Valley Community College, like all of the previous colleges where I have worked, struggles at times with communication. This blog is one way I am trying to strengthen communication at the College. Communication comes in many forms and takes many shapes at the College. In addition, the stronger communication is on campus, the stronger the sense of community and connection people feel.

One thing I can't emphasize enough is that each of us - individually - needs to take responsibility for our part in strengthening communication at the College. Responsibility comes in considering ourselves part of the overall team at the College; being thoughtful about our communications; thinking about the best way to communicate on different issues; and recognizing that we actually have to seek out information to get informed. In addition, most of us are guilty of taking the easy way out and relying way too much on email to communicate when face-to-face conversations were possible and would have been more effective - if we just would take the time.

A number of people have responded to this blog with interest in improving communication and sense of community here. Responses have emphasized the need to strengthen communication and connection within departments, between departments, from my office, with students, and from students (thank you for those students who have responded thus far). I'd like to carry that conversation forward here and invite ideas that you may have to improve communication and sense of community at the College? Please send your ideas and comments to presblog@mvcc.edu.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Key Questions

I'm a little more than a month on the job and thus far have had wonderful experiences at the College. I've spent the majority of my time meeting with faculty and staff. Many of these meetings have consisted of me asking a set of key questions. I would be interested in perspective from anyone at the College. Please review these questions and send me your responses at presblog@mvcc.edu.

What do people at the College hope I do?
What things are people at the College concerned I might do? - concerned I might not do?
What needs to change at the College? What needs to be preserved?
What are the barriers that keep the College from reaching its potential?

By asking this common set of questions, and receiving honest responses, I have been able to accelerate my own learning in gaining a solid understanding of MVCC. Hopefully, one or more of these questions will prompt you to share your individual perspective about the College with me. I would appreciate your insights, so please send your responses to presblog@mvcc.edu.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Welcome to my blog. I intend to use this tool to share my thinking, prompt discussion and reflection, and provide clarification regarding communication here at Mohawk Valley Community College. This blog is designed using an external free service that simplifies the necessary maintenance support. As a result, two-way communication here is limited. I am the only one who can make a post to this blog. However, I have a separate email that I ask you to please use in responding to any of my postings or questions - if you have any comments or insights that you'd like to share, please send them to me at presblog@mvcc.edu, when I check this email account, I know it will be with regard to the content of this blog.