A Retreat to Advance

CQ4INp0W8AESmae How will we know that the RiSE Project has been successful? Of the many possible answers to this question, I like this one: We will know that RiSE has succeeded when AU faculty and staff see themselves as a single, multi-faceted community, wholeheartedly dedicated to helping our students thrive.

We saw the foundations of that community in the 154 colleagues who attended last Friday’s Fall Leadership Retreat. The day had many highlights: stirring injunctions from President Kerwin and Provost Bass; Dr. Eugene Tobin’s remark that the Mellon Foundation views RiSE as “potentially the most innovative and transformative work” in higher education today; a compelling panel by key project leaders on RiSE’s progress to date. But the true highlight of the day was “shown” not “told,” as faculty and staff from across the university worked their way—with creativity, vision and great good cheer—through facilitator Darin Eich’s engaging exercises in “breakthrough innovation.”

Over the next several weeks, we will learn a great deal about how other complex organizations—including Wegman’s, the Cleveland Clinic, and two dozen peer universities—are approaching their twenty-first century service challenges. But here at AU we see programs, longstanding and emergent, that already bear the seeds of the support community we aspire to build. If you were implementing RiSE at a peer institution, what aspects of AU’s practice today would you consider exemplary and worthy of emulation? Why? Comments welcome.

— Peter Starr, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
RiSE Task Force Co-Chair