At the conclusion of the fall term, the first phase of strategic planning wrapped up for our departments and schools in the College of Arts & Letters. Next, we move to a meta-analysis of the unit strategic plans, specifically to uncover the emerging themes that will serve as the foundation for the college plan. By February, I will develop a response document, which will be returned to the faculty/staff for a comment period. The College Executive Committee will be tasked with amending the plan with the feedback from that comment period. The final plan will be presented to the faculty and staff at our spring convocation in April.
Despite a busy fall, most units in the college embraced this process. In these fiscally challenging times, it seems self-evident that planning, strategic or otherwise, can only facilitate the focus that we must acquire. Effective planning can address goals related to improving governance, program reach, accountability, and ultimately, the best use of public and development funding.
Nonetheless, there can be a danger of a disconnect between the plan and the organizational focus and daily activities in college. While the consensus is that these conversations have been worthwhile, there is a fear that the effort might result in a document that will find a special place on the shelves of chairs, directors, and upper-level administrators, to never be seen again. That will not happen under my watch.
A college’s organizational culture is strongly influenced by the dean as well as the leadership team surrounding the dean. The core values and behaviors demonstrated at the top of the organization will permeate throughout and can create a very strong culture for focus or change. However, it is not enough to simply build a strong culture, it must be a balanced one. I am committed to developing our potential, based on the plan that emerges from our faculty and staff conversations this fall. We will build a performance-centered culture that encourages a healthy level of risk taking (thinking in terms of what can be, not what has been) and an appreciation for learning, development and diversity of opinion. These factors fuel innovation and help propel stronger long-term growth and performance. To do this, we must have a plan… one that rises up from the faculty.
Who doesn’t feel a little more optimistic when the sun is shining, the sky is blue and a warm breeze is gently blowing? In just the same way that the environment can impact our lives, it can also contribute to or detract from the way we learn.
In Arts & Letters, we provide excellent educational experiences in our classes, studios and labs and through our performances and internships. We also are beginning to focus on providing that sense of “place” that draws students together outside of the formal academic experience. This summer, we began to exam that sense of place in the Liberal Arts Building so that students would want to linger between classes and congregate to visit with classmates or to meet new people. Slowly we are building an environment that is not only functional, but that is also aesthetically encouraging and provides a greater identity for what we do. We’ve added study nooks and places to quietly congregate before and after classes, an electronic message board on both floors. We’ve added art and cleaned up technology in the classrooms. The Manonni Performing Arts Center and the Fine Arts Building have also gone through a renaissance of sorts. In both old and new facilities, our focus on developing an encouraging environment is beginning to show some results.
What I hear in the halls now is the quiet buzz of student conversations as they work and study. Faculty report that they enjoy seeing students working between classes; they appreciate the animation of students as they process their learning; and I revel in the atmosphere of warmth, beauty, and friendliness that is our home in LAB and was already a part of the School of Music and the Departments of Art and Design, Dance and Theatre. Soon our School of Mass Communication and Journalism will move into their beautiful new home, and we will have new learning and performing spaces on 31st Avenue by way of the pedestrian walkway project, just in time to enjoy the spring weather next semester.
The College of Science and Technology at Southern Miss is committed to having an impact on our local, state, and national community. Faculty at Southern Miss are experts in the classroom as well as the larger community.
One of our own, Max van Norden, program coordinator for the hydrographic science master’s program in the Southern Miss Department of Marine Science at Stennis Space Center, was featured as a call-in expert on NPR’s Science Friday program on Jan. 20 from 2:30-3 p.m.
Van Norden answered questions on electronic charting and surveying technology in the wake of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster off the coast of Italy.
Click to see the Science Friday archive of van Norden’s discussion.
We welcome our students back to the Spring 2012 semester with the wonderful news that our Business and Accounting programs have successfully maintained AACSB accreditation for another five-year cycle.
AACSB accreditation (from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) is the standard of excellence for business education and a commitment to continuous improvement. Fewer than 5% of business schools internationally carry AACSB accreditation. So start your new semester knowing that you are attending a college that has been endorsed by the top business accreditation body in the world.
As I prepare to deliver a presentation to the Mississippi Coast Foreign Trade Zone Wednesday evening, I have to pause and congratulate the School of Nursing on its $4 million gift for the new building announced today. What a great investment in nursing and Southern Miss by the Asbury Foundation! We in CoB look forward to the exciting process of building a new learning facility along with SoN.