A project I was assigned recently involved analyzing a set of grant applications. The proposals were centered on using technology to enhance student success. My job was to determine commonalities and missing pieces across the proposals. From a list of 20 or so findings, here are the four takeaways I believe are pertinent to our work:
- Even in a fairly well-defined grant program, definitions for common terms differed greatly across the 81 proposals.
- Many authors used buzz words in their application narratives, but failed to back up those words or concepts with knowledge or examples that showed they knew anything about the terms.
- Risks and obstacles associated with the implementation of the project almost always dealt with resistance to change in other areas of campus.
- Student affairs units were woefully absent among the collaborators in proposed initiatives.
In an era of fiscal responsibility and budget cuts, relevance matters. In era of accountability, meaningfulness is important. In an era of continued alteration, adaptation is key. In an era of “do more with less” (whether you ascribe to that theory or not), collaboration is necessary. So, I ask you to consider the following as you plan for the upcoming academic year:
- Does everyone on campus understand what you do? If not, why not, and how will you address that this year?
- Do you use buzz words so you can be a part of the conversation, or are you driving the conversation because you and your area are the buzz of campus?
- How are you addressing change head-on and helping others realize its usefulness and necessity?
- Are you collaborating with non-student affairs offices to learn about their work and efforts, enhance their programs, and impact your campus’ students? If not, why not, and who’s at the top of your list for contacting?
It’s a new year, with new possibilities and new opportunities. How are you going to make this the best year yet? Not ever, because that implies you’ve no way to improve from now. Just yet… better than years past, setting a solid foundation for the years to come.
Matt Pistilli is a research associate in Information Technology at Purdue University. Connect with him on twitter.