Time To Run Like You Own It

Comments at All-Faculty Meeting

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once boarded a train headed to Washington, DC. About 30 minutes into the train ride he realized that he had lost his ticket. The conductor recognized him and said, “Judge, don't worry about it sir. I'm sure when you find it you will send it in.” Justice Holmes replied, “Young man, the question is not where is my ticket but rather where am I supposed to be going?”

In my time at Webster I have found that the primary challenge we face is: How do we create a culture where people are focused on where we are going instead of where we have been? How can we create a culture where people readily embrace change and are willing to lead it? Change for the sake of change is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about the kind of change that makes us better positioned to fulfill our mission. This mission must be clear, understandable, easy to remember. It must be significant enough that it will not be easy to attain but that we can continuously strive to achieve it. The mission of the SBT must be focused and compelling.

“To prepare lifelong learners for professional fulfillment in the fields of business and technology through the delivery of applied knowledge in a supportive academic environment.”

My challenge to each of you tonight is that we continue to work together to create a new future for Webster University. It must be a future that is externally focused, a future that is innovative with a heightened interest in applied and relevant knowledge; it can be a future that will embrace the value of ethics and social responsibility. Our singular purpose must be to look forward instead of looking backward. We must step forward from our past and embrace the possibilities of the future.

Indeed we must transition from our yesterday to our today.

Yesterday we held our students accountable for results. Today the faculty must be accountable for results. It's called assessment of learning.

Yesterday we tolerated mediocrity in the name of a high number of student enrollment. Today the standard is quality and learning outcomes.

Yesterday our faculty had a worker's perspective in their attitude towards their role. Today they have found value in taking an owner's mentality by running it like they own it, taking ownership of the curriculum and opting to make assessment a living part of the Webster culture.

Yesterday we avoided the risk of challenging ourselves to be the best at only those things we have done successfully. Today we have seen the emergence of faculty leaders who are willing to take prudent risks and recognize that continuous improvement is the only way one can own the future.

I will be the first to admit that we do not live in a perfect world, that there are challenges that we face in our work on assessment and many of them will come unexpectedly, but we should not allow these challenges to become an excuse for doing just enough to get by or doing nothing at all.

My friends, I welcome you to a new era of institutional accountability where we will be measured not by how many students we enroll but how successful we are to embolden our mission to prepare lifelong learners.

I believe we will succeed if we stay focused on our vision to be recognized for our application based approach to learning and committed to prepare a community of learners for success in the fields of business and technology through the delivery of real world knowledge in a supportive environment that fosters academic achievement and professional fulfillment.

I thank you.