We Really Want Your Opinions…Really

As another way of trying to reach out to faculty members, we decided to break the university down into departments and email each professor individually. So, I whipped out a spreadsheet and began assigning names. Naive me thought that there couldn’t be that many faculty members in certain departments…I was wrong.

I looked at the departments I had assigned myself: nursing and allied health, economics, counseling, health and physical education and professional studies. I had 140+ professors to email. Individually.

About two days later when I had finally accomplished this, I was optimistic. I’d already received a few responses and it was looking like it was going to be a good turnout. Not so much.

Of the 140+ faculty members I reached out to, only about 10 got back to me. That’s not a very good rate of return. If I was looking at this from a numbers standpoint, I’d probably fire myself.

So what do we do to get people interested? We can’t pay people, we can’t threaten them and we can’t force them to share their opinions.

We tell people over and over how important this project is and how their opinions matter, but not everyone listens. So we’ll keep persevering and keep hounding people to share their opinions with us. When you open your email and have 47 messages from me, at least I know I tried.

So if you have even a sliver of interest in IUP, your opinions count and we want to hear them. Sign up to be interviewed, follow us on Twitter and let us know what you think makes IUP distinctive!

–Kelly

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Faculty Mambers

Today we realized it’s crunch time. With our thermometor chart depicting the number of faculty members we’ve reached at below freezing temperatures, the room felt extra chilly. With a limited amount of time and a limited amount of faculty members left on campus, it was clear that we needed to revise our methods.

We decided to divide the work, assigning each intern five or so departments that they would be in charge of getting in contact with. With my list in hand, it seemed like a good idea to write a template email and send it out to every professor in each of my assigned departments, adressing each professor by name, enabling for a personal touch.

After constructing a satisfactory draft, I checked over the final product, correcting typo’s (or so I thought) and checking for any punctuation errors. I then began copy and pasting the template into email after email, changing the name at the top and email address for each new recipient. My biggest concern was misspelling anyone’s name because I knew that taking the time to spell a persons name right could be the difference between a sloppy, generic email and a genuine, personalized one. I plowed through my assigned list so quickly that I took on another intern’s department, feeling confident that I was sending out warm and inviting emails that would generate a lot of responses.

Thinking I was done for the day I began to pack up my belongs when Michele told me she recieved a response to one of my emails. I thought it was odd considering I sent them from my personal account, but my emotions quickly turned from confusion to sheer embarassment as Michele read the email out loud. The professor sent the response to both myself and Michele, pointing out two spelling errors and telling me to be more careful next time.

I immediately considered the situation. I sent out 50+ emails misspelling the word members as mambers and the word convenience. I sent these emails to all faculty members, some of which I have had for class and most of which included the title “Dr.”. I imagined my copy-editing class from freshman year. I imagined Randy Jesick drawing a big red zero on my computer screen. I imagined changing my name and fleeing the country. I wondered if I would enjoy my new life traveling with the circus. I wondered where the nearest rock was and how fast I could climb under it. I even fought back a few tears. After a small emotional break-down and making Melissa check my email to see if all the other professors responded by highlighting my errors, I decided to get a grip. Running away from your mistakes will never make them disappear and beating yourself up will not solve anything. I’m embarassed by my mistakes because I hold myself to a higher standard than spelling errors in a professional email, but I made them. It happened. I was not careful enough and I have to deal with the consequences. I considered sending a follow up email with the two errors followed by an asterisk (half jokingly), but Michele pointed out that not every one will notice the mistakes and not to draw attention to them. The way I see it, as long as I secure some interviews I’ve done my job, so I’ll put my pride aside and hope that not all the faculty mambers will focus my mistakes and will instead notice I spelled their names correctly.

Juliette Rapp

Looking for the Beaten Paths

An old footpath

The old footpath

If you’ve ever walked from the suites to Eleventh Street (the street that Foster Hall and Davis Hall sit on, barely visible in this photo), maybe you’ve seen this new piece of sidewalk. I love cutting through the suites when I’m walking to Davis because it’s much faster than walking alllll the way up Grant Street, turning left at Foster, and then walking all the way down to Davis. I’m either too efficient or too lazy.

Apparently I wasn’t the only student who enjoyed this shortcut because there used to be a well-worn footpath going from the old part of the sidewalk (which you can see in the bottom right corner of this photo) toward Grant Street. That wide, new sidewalk was nothing more than a dirt path that students wore out after years of trampling the grass.

Funny thing is, there’s an almost-identical sidewalk about 15 feet from the old sidewalk that will take you to Grant Street, but so many people were headed downhill that they elected not to walk up that extra 20 feet just to go down. Is that silly? Probably. Did it stop us from wearing that path? Not a chance. (Here’s a Google Maps street view showing this.)

I wish I had a picture of how this area used to look. Believe me, it was what groundskeepers would call “unsightly,” especially when it rained for a week and turned into mud so thick you could lose a boot. But then someone made the fantastic decision to turn the path into a sidewalk, and as you can see, there’s no more dirt, mud, or trampling of the grass.

I tell you all this because it occurred to me last week that this is what we’re trying to do with IUP through the Strategic Visioning Project. Bear with me. I’m also an English major–I like metaphors.

Some universities use committees to formulate their strategic visions and plans. In our research, we’ve read a few case studies touting the success of visioning/planning groups in which professors and administrators from various departments get together a few times a year to draft the plans that will move their universities forward.

While we’re not exactly drafting the plans for IUP’s future, I’d argue that our process of hitting the streets and reaching out to get input from many people connected to the university is much better for the vision/mission and the university family as a whole, and it’s because of the sidewalk thing. In the group interview process, we’re spotting the unacknowledged paths that people have already worn and seeing how we can turn that into something “official” for everyone to be a part of. Like the smart ways we’re adapting to budget cuts. The ways professors are getting their students out of the classroom and into research and projects. The ways Indiana residents connect with IUP students that don’t make page 2 of the Indiana Gazette.

Whatever unnoticed trails you’re blazing out there, that’s what we’re looking for. It’s just as much a part of the university as the stuff that we already know about. Tell us about your well-worn path. 

-Emily

Let’s make it hotter in here

faculty thermostatWe have a thermostat hanging in the IUP SVP Command Center. Not for temperature — for faculty.

Let me explain. Faculty are crucial to IUP. We want their input. We invite everybody, especially IUP faculty, to tell us what they think. All for the future of IUP.

So far, 25 IUP faculty members have given us their support in the form of opinions. We’re shooting for 258, a statistically relevant fraction of all IUP faculty.

Why the thermostat? To measure the number of faculty.

Help us heat up the Command Center. Let faculty know we want to hear from them. If you are faculty, tell us what you think and help form the new vision for our university.

–Caleb Murphy

A Different Type of Input

ESING

Melissa Esing

Today was the facilitation with the EMC directors. This is the first time I’ve spoken with administrators, and it was a lot different than what I was expecting. The atmosphere was very relaxed. Each person had a lot to contribute, and the discussion lasted for almost an hour.  In my opinion, speaking with staff and administrators of IUP and hearing their input is a little more easier than speaking with students. The administrators have a lot more to say about it, as opposed to some of the students that speak to us for extra credit. Don’t get me wrong though, gathering  the input from both parties is crucial.

I’m looking forward to speaking with more faculty, staff and administrators throughout the summer. I’d like to hear the comparisons between each of their contributions.

-Melissa