ON THE ROAD AGAIN
And so it begins. One of the single most enjoyable tasks I have experienced during years of heading up various organizations is the process of site visits. Nothing you read or hear about can ever take the place of spending personal time at each dispersed geographical location. Meeting people, examining their workplace facilities, hearing their stories, poking around the out-of-the-way places…that’s how you develop a feel for the overall site leadership, team quality, and in the case of our university, whether or not the environment they are uniquely responsible for creating is supporting learning excellence as intended. Over time, after one has accomplished many dozens of these visits, it’s amazing how rapidly and accurately a first impression builds. To be sure, first impressions can be erroneous. However, top notch teams will not permit that to happen. If visit time is limited, creating a substantive first impression becomes even more important to them. For my part, after a couple hours sampling underneath the organizational veneer, peering into the more mundane and utilitarian corners of the organization, I can pick up a lot. Excellence is not about flashy veneer…it’s about quality, depth, and the effort applied by professionals toward continuous improvement, often despite significant adversity.
Take my recent visit to the Mat-Su Campus for example. In every area I entered I saw a very clean, orderly, well kept appearance. Broom closets, boiler rooms, bathrooms, classrooms, maintenance facilities, landscaping…the standards were impressively high across the board. Self-help projects of considerable proportions were everywhere. The faculty and staff were motivated and obviously proud of who they were, where they worked, and how well their campus supported student learning. Footprints of the leadership team were everywhere. I was proud of them. No erroneous first impressions here.
Students attending school at Mat-Su are no doubt just as satisfied as I was. Is the Mat-Su Campus an exception? I prefer to think not. I prefer to think of them as a fine example of a campus that works hard to meet high UA standards. But I have to admit, they may have nudged the bar up just a little more for all the rest of us to reach. See you soon. -----Pat Gamble