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Every university administrator understands the importance of setting goals for your school and developing a plan to achieve those goals.  Most accreditation standards require developing a strategic plan that provides a roadmap for mission achievement and that establishes the foundation for continuous improvement with an overarching goal of the plan to serve as an effective guide for decisions and practice.

Over the past 15 years I have been directly involved in strategic planning as a professor, department head, associate dean and dean.   In addition, I have been involved in developing strategic plans at the department, college and university level.

University-level and college-level strategic plans are often grand productions necessarily involving hundreds of stakeholders (faculty, staff, alumni, strategic partners, students, donors, administration).    These strategic plans will often take 12 months or more to complete.    Yet, in many cases these strategic plans focus more on planning and much less on strategy.

If your university, college or department is truly looking to achieve a bold vision it is imperative to develop a sound strategy and corresponding strategic plan.   If you are willing to get outside of your comfort zone of conforming your strategic planning to traditional academic norms, I highly recommend that you read the following book:   Scaling Up:  How a Few Companies Make It … and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish, Gazelles Inc., Asburn, VA (2014).  

In this book you will find some straight forward thinking on how to compete and grow in a competitive market.  If you are unwilling to examine your university through the lens of business, this book is not for you.   However, if you are willing to examine the business principles in this book and adapt them to your school’s situation, you will find this a very helpful book.

A great place to begin is the one-page strategic plan.   I recommend that you go the the “Social Sector Growth Tools” page at the book’s website.  Here you will find free strategic resources, including the One Page Strategic Plan, adapted for the non-profit sector.

In one page you will be asked to answer difficult questions about your core customers, the ‘product’ that you are selling them, your brand promises and your kept promise indicators (KPI’s).   Only after answering these questions will you have a foundation necessary to build a strategic plan that enables a bold vision.    Do you have the courage?

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

You have just received your Ph.D. and are seeking a tenure track position at a distinguished university.   Following are three ‘huge’ mistakes made by new Ph.D.’s that I have witnessed over the past four to five years.   In each case, the candidate was the search committee’s top pick until they made their faux pas.

Episode 1 – Two $60 Bottles of Wine

This candidate had it all – a degree from a top university, a budding research record, and strong interpersonal skills with faculty, students and administration.    After a full day of interviews and a well-received presentation to the faculty, the search committee took our candidate to dinner.   At the dinner table, as the search committee deliberated over what to have to drink with their evening meal, our candidate took charge and ordered two relatively expensive bottles of wine.    Not good.    As it turns out, the freely flowing wine uncovered the true nature of our candidate.   It turns out that our candidate was a highly opinionated and arrogant individual who managed to offend everyone by the end of the evening.    While I was not pleased at the search committee spending $120 for wine at a search committee meal, it turns out that this was money well spent.   We avoided a terrible hire!

Episode 2 –  Not Following Instructions for Research Presentation

Another top candidate – another disaster.   Like all tenure-track candidates at our school, this newly minted Ph.D. was given specific instructions to provide an overview of his research agenda and to discuss how this research agenda would fit with the department and school.   The department and search committee know that these instructions are not the ‘normal’ research presentation, so we go to great pains to make sure that the candidate is aware of our research presentation requirements.   What baffles me in this case is that I was the one who spoke to the candidate on the phone and went over the protocol step-by-step for our research presentation.   This candidate chose to give a typical ‘dissertation defense’ research presentation with absolutely no overview and with absolutely no discussion of our department or school.   What truly amazed me is that this candidate was extremely disappointed that he didn’t get a job offer.    Arrogance?  Inability to follow instructions?   Again, we were happy we learned this up front and avoided a bad hire.

Episode 3 – No Energy or Enthusiasm

This story saddens me.   This Ph.D. candidate was a non-traditional candidate.  He had spent 15 years working before going back to school for a Ph.D.   His research and teaching record were strong and a good fit for our department and university.   Importantly, several phone conversations with our candidate left me with the clear impression he definitely wanted to be at our university.  The interview day started off well.   Yet as the day went on, our candidate was unable to sustain energy or enthusiasm with faculty and students.   Somehow, he was quite ‘high-energy’ with all of the administrators and some of the senior faculty.   Yet to a person, our junior faculty and students just didn’t feel the energy.    Obviously, we didn’t extend an offer.   Later, I talked to a colleague at another university who interviewed the same candidate.  He related the same story – no energy, little enthusiasm.    Advice to all of you Ph.D. candidates out there – energy and enthusiasm are very, very important during the job interview process!!!

Other mistakes to avoid in the academic job search process can be found here – read carefully!

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

What does a Graduate Director of Enrollment Management and Student Services do?  Here is a current job description:

Reporting to the Dean of the College,

  • Oversee and direct enrollment management in the College’s Graduate Programs including:
    • Admission management – coordinate effort to advance and track students from prospect to enrolled student including recruiting, interviewing, corporate outreach, etc.
    • Marketing and communications – coordinate effort to clarify image of academic programs, establish enrollment targets to meet goals, understand the school’s differentiating factors and drive student prospects
    • Enrollment analytics – coordinate effort to collect and analyze data on internal and external factors affecting enrollment, student success (including retention), and the College’s image.
    • Retention – coordinate effort to keep and re-enroll students from one year to the next.
    • IT Management – coordinate use of information technology, including CRM and College’s web site, to maximize enrollment management effectiveness.
  • Oversee and direct student services in the College’s Graduate Programs including:
    • Experiential Learning – co-curricular activities and events that happen outside of the classroom such as leadership initiatives, workshops, student clubs, international travel, career preparation
    • Student Advising – coordinate efforta with Associate Dean of Graduate Programs to ensure that students receive high-quality advising services
    • Weekend Residencies for graduate program
    • IT Management – coordinate use of information technology to maximize delivery of student services to graduate students.
  • Coordinate relationships with:
    • University Graduate Admissions
    • University Marketing
    • University Financial Aid Office
    • University Registrar’s Office
    • Center for Career Development

Please note the high level of accountability associated with the position – this is important.   I would encourage anyone interested in this posting to learn more about NAGAP, The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management.  NAGAP is the only professional organization devoted exclusively to the concerns of individuals working in the graduate enrollment management environment.

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

coca_2824997Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with several professors who teach business ethics.   I have taught at a university where a program was developed to teach ethical reasoning to all university students.   I have co-written a peer reviewed journal article on ethical issues associated with online marketing.    Today, at my university have a veteran faculty member who does an outstanding job of engaging business students in the ethical issues of our day.   Yet, I continue to be plagued by the inherent inconsistencies between pedagogical intent and actual student learning outcomes in the teaching of ethics.    I would like to share two specific stories which highlight my point.

Story One:   “Stealing from the Soda Vending Machine”

Several years ago I was co-teaching a leadership class with a fellow faculty member.   In the class, he motivated the importance of teaching ethics by sharing a story about students stealing soda cans from a university vending machine.    Specifically,  he severely criticized the ethical behavior of students for taking soda cans from a soda machine after the machine dispensed several cans after a student only paid for one can.    After class, I questioned the professor by saying the ethics of the situation could depend on the situation that led to the vending machine dispensing the cans (i.e.  Did the machine sometimes take money and not return any cans? or Had students contacted the owner of the machine and received an unsatisfactory reply?).    From the point of the view of the professor, it was simply wrong to ‘steal’ a can of soda and the students were in the wrong.

I was not satisfied with the professor’s reply.    What did I do?   I googled “vending machine ethics” and found a wonderful lesson in ethics from  Rabbi Tzvi Shpitz.    He tells a wonderful tale of ethics, based on Jewish law, that describes the process by which the vending machine customer should evaluate the situation and respond.      As you read the Rabbi’s response, you will see that the response is not as easy as “right” and “wrong”.   See: Hilchos Choshen Mishpat, Volume II, Number 4: Money Extracted From A Vending Machine.

This episode left me puzzled by the business professor’s approach to ethics and his apparent unwillingness to examine the complexity of an interesting ethical dilemma.

 Story Two:   “The Ethics of Uber”

At a recent conference for academic deans, a distinguished professor of business ethics from a major university made a presentation on the importance of teaching ethics in the business curriculum.   She immediately motivated her discussion by launching into a diatribe on the unethical behavior of Uber.      More specifically, she unequivocally stated that Uber was unethical for circumventing taxi cab laws and for treating their employees as contract employees.    After her presentation was over, I gently discussed the notion that nearly all of the tech giants (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, etc.) pushed ethical boundaries and that ultimately there are ethical arguments that can be made pro and con for different business practices and that ultimately these boundaries will be settled in a court of law.    The ethics professor would have none of this – Uber was clearly a business engaged in unethical business practices.    There was no gray in her position.

I later learned that the business ethics professor specialized in labor law.      This troubled me.     From my perspective she was viewing an ethical issue solely from a legal perspective and did not consider the issue from different perspectives.      See: “Ethically, is Uber a better choice than a taxi?”.  Most troubling was that she did this in front of a group of deans – none of whom seemed to be particularly bothered by her analysis.

Conclusion

Why do business ethics professors seem to view complex ethical situations through a black and white lense?    This is troubling.   Few ethical dilemmas have simple solutions.      By presenting these cases as examples of bad behavior as opposed to examples of ethical decision making, they do their students a great disservice.    From my perspective, both of these professors ultimately force our students to rely exclusively on the law and they do little to advance the importance of ethical decision making.    What are your thoughts?

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

Mission-300x221Following is a homework assignment that I used with undergraduate students in a leadership development class in our honors program.  The novelty to the assignment was having students work on their resume at the same time they worked on their personal mission statement.  The result was students putting much thought into how their career path would align with personal goals and values.  The students found this exercise to be very rewarding.  Here is the assignment:

TO:  Honors 101 Students

FROM:  Dr. Percy Trappe

RE:  Assignment #2 – Personal Mission Statement and Resume

DATE:  August 28, 2013

The first step in your “leadership journey” is to reflect on what you have accomplished and what would you like to become.   In this exercise you will develop/update your resume (accomplishments) and will develop a first draft of a personal mission statement.

Resume: Submit a one page resume.  A resume is one of the tools you will need to introduce yourself and your experience to employers. It provides prospective employers with their first impression of you-it is an advertisement about you. Your resume is your chief marketing tool in the job search process. Therefore, your resume should be well-organized and highlight your background by emphasizing your skills and qualifications.   Be sure to emphasize your accomplishments.  For guidelines and examples on creating an effective resume be sure to see “Writing an Effective Resume” (http://career.ucsd.edu/undergraduates/prepar-resume-covlet/writing-effective-resume.html)

Personal Mission Statement: Submit a personal mission statement.  Your personal mission statement focuses on:

  1. What you want to be (character)
  2. What you want to do (contributions and achievements)
  3. Principles upon which “being” and “doing” are based

Your mission statement should be no more than one page in length.  In addition, to the mission statement itself, you should submit an “Explanation of My Mission Statement” where you summarize two things: (1) describe the process you used to develop your mission statement, and (2) describe how the three elements of the personal mission statement have been integrated into your final product.

Some resources to help you construct a personal mission statement:

Due Date:  Thursday, September 5, 2013

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

NCAA_logo.svgI have recently had the opportunity to serve on the search committee to find our university’s next athletic director.    Following are ten interview questions that we asked each candidate.  Enjoy!

Question 1: Please tell us why you would like to become the athletic director at our university?

Question 2: What are your long term professional goals and how does this position fit into those goals?

Question 3: Please explain your philosophy and approach to external work (i.e., fundraising, corporate alliances and partnerships, marketing and social media) and how you would apply it to our athletic program. In which of these three areas have you had the most experience?

Question 4:  What is your history around recruiting, hiring, promoting and elevating females, ethnic minorities and LGBT staff in your organization?

Question 5: Excellence is one of our guiding principles for selecting a “next tier leader” for our athletic program. Can you provide an example of moving a “good” program, project or initiative from “good to great” and how were you instrumental in leading this change?

Question 6: Please tell us how you have or would be able to assist scholar athletes in establishing a balance between a successful athletic career and their all-important academic pursuits?

Question 7: Please provide us with one or two examples of major successes with regards to revenue generation in which you were directly involved.

Question 8: Where do you see areas for growth and, in this context, what do you feel a next tier leader would be engaged in to take this athletic program to that next level of athletic success?

Question 9: What will you have accomplished in your first year at our university?

Question 10: The NCAA and our athletic conference are highly disciplined organizations that require members to be in compliance with a multitude of regulations. What role do you see the AD playing to make sure our university is compliant and also has a voice to help set regulations?

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

us versus them

Which way? Of course – “Us”!

I just got out of a faculty meeting.    It turns out that we have an “Us” vs “Them” department head in one of our academic programs – a university department head who generates intense loyalty on the part of his own faculty, but who creates much ill will with faculty and administrators across the college and the campus.

On the one hand, the faculty in his department have the following to say:

  • “How can we possibly move forward without him as our department head?”
  • “He is the reason why I come to work each day.”
  • “He makes this a safe place to work.”
  • “He is our irreplaceable leader.”
  • “Please ask him to not quit.”

What do you think?   Is this a healthy relationship between faculty and department head?    It all depends who you ask.

On the other hand, our “Us” vs. “Them” department head was generally viewed unfavorably across the college and across the campus.   Why?    Here are some examples:

  • He led an effort to “declare war” on other department’s faculty when they gave academic advice to “our students”.
  • He “declared war” on the college administrators when they allowed other departments to schedule student events that conflicted with events in “his” program.
  • He has led a relentless campaign to convince the world that his faculty were underpaid and overworked.     This is a consistent theme with anyone who will listen.   As a result he actively encouraged his faculty to ‘boycott’ college and university activities that weren’t part of the annual faculty contract.  (FYI – his faculty are among the highest paid on campus and are at or above benchmark standards for similar schools.)
  • He has let it be known that he sabotaged the search for a faculty hire in his department because the Dean, in his opinion, had not allocated sufficient funds for the position.
  • He will tell anyone that will listen “The Dean cannot fire me because no one else in my department will take the department head job – too much work and not enough pay.”

From where I sit, this is an unfortunate situation.   Here we have a very talented individual who achieves department level success through “Us vs. Them”.   Frankly, it is quite interesting to see how this approach can be effective in building team cohesion and loyalty.    From a higher level perspective,  I can assure you that this is destructive behavior for both the faculty and the department as a whole.     More on this later ……    Your thoughts?

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe