Commitment Versus Clarity

Comments at the Inaugural Program Leaders Planning Meeting

Welcome to the Program Leaders Orientation and Planning Meeting. We are glad you are here.

I have always thought that clarity creates commitment but recently I have come to believe that it is commitment that creates clarity. As we kick off this program leader's initiative, what we are doing is making a commitment to quality, to continuous improvement and from this commitment will come clarity of purpose and results, that is to improve student learning.

Tonight we begin a new chapter in our quest to strengthen our competitive advantage as an institution and to enhance the reputation of Webster's School of Business and Technology. This is an important initiative that speaks to our commitment to focus on curriculum development. We are taking a bold step forward, one that speaks to transforming the way we approach the viability of our programs. The role of program leaders is integral to the success that we seek and the goals that we have set as a School of Business. As such, each of the program leaders represents the very best of our full-time and part-time faculty. We ask you to be proactive, purposeful and to be focused on results.

Our mandate to you is to be entrepreneurial in your thinking and in your intent. We ask you take a critical look at what we are doing and then to make it better. It is our hope that at the end of this academic year, you would have made a noticeable impact in your program areas.

One of the dangers that so many successful institutions of higher learning face today is that they have become complacent and prefer to operate in a comfort zone. They are too busy harvesting what they already have rather than entertaining what could come to be. They resist change and have stopped questioning themselves and others the result is that they are inadvertently playing a part in the decline of the institution they love so dearly.

The higher education environment today is continually shifting under our feet, owing to the powerful and changing demographic current. We are being exposed to the strong elements of competitive pressure. This institutional epidemic is particularly common today where new competitive dynamics emerge almost out of nowhere upending the status quo. But unfortunately there are too many cases of successful institutions like Webster that have become shrines to the status quo, refusing to react with the kind of clear-eyed realism needed to remain competitive.

Today I ask you all to join me in eating change for dinner. The change that I speak of will demand that we overcome all sorts of human dynamics and speed bumps, like inertia, taking forever to make decisions, hanging on to tradition, and the head-in-the-sand practice of a strategy based on hope. Strategic moments like this require courage, or at least a lack of sentimentality. It's times like this that demand that we move without hesitation and with passionate determination. What lies ahead for Webster's School of Business and Technology is really unknown. Yet I am hopeful that we can develop a unique ability to see around corners if we dare to make change, our friend, and by doing so we can help shape the future and position ourselves to own that future. I thank you for accepting the charge to lead.

I thank you for listening.