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Inspiration From … Administration?

As a faculty member, I feel as if I’m supposed to dislike the administration. That’s the vibe I’ve gotten since I entered this profession. It’s us, the faculty, against them, the bureaucrats. We want students to learn, and they want to increase revenue. We want innovation, and they want standardization. Ding, ding, ding … the fight is on. But something strange has been happening to me. I find myself, more and more, on the same page as the administration. Perhaps the power of the “other” side is just too much. Or perhaps the administration and I, at least where I am, have the same ideas about learning and priorities.

At Richard Bland College, we’ve gone through some significant administrative changes lately. In 2012, we welcomed Debbie L. Sydow as our new president. Since she began, she has reorganized the college’s administration. To be honest, this wasn’t much of a change for me. I was new in 2011, and I was just learning how the system worked. It was complicated, and the reorganizing seems to have made things more efficient. But efficiency alone isn’t the point. The point is, the efficiency is for the benefit of the students. For example, instead of trekking from building to building for advising, financial aid, and registration, students will soon be able to do all of that at one place. It’s simpler for everyone.

This “for the benefit of the students” idea is a primary one at the college these days. Another priority has been developing a strategic plan to help guide the college’s future. Leading the discussions, the forums, the drafts, the everything seems to be this idea of putting students first. That’s the heart of it all, really. As a faculty member, an instructor whose job it is to help students learn, I’m inspired by that.

I know it’s not a perfect world and not everyone, faculty or administrator, will get his way. I know that this is a lot of planning and a lot of talking and it may never lead to measurable changes. But that only matters a little at this point, because the ideology of Richard Bland College seems to be headed in a positive direction. This clears the path for good things to follow.

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