I want to start this post with a greeting and then an apology. The greeting is “Happy New Year!” Many people celebrate the new year Jan. 1, but on college and university campuses around the country, our new year is the start of school in the fall. So, “Happy New Year” to all of you in Jaguar Nation.
The apology is because I should have said this about six weeks ago. In fact, it has been about two months since my last blog post. In my defense, the common denominator here is just exactly how busy it has been at UHV during that time.
Since my last post, we have had a number of new colleagues join us. Ken Colwell, our new dean of the School of Business Administration, joined us July 15. Chance Glenn, our new provost and vice president for academic affairs, joined us Aug. 5. Jose Cantu, our new vice president for enrollment management, joined us Sept. 9. We have had a cadre of new faculty members joining the ranks since mid-August.
This includes Esther Cuenca, Aaron Deason, Hardik Gohel, Humberto Hernandez, Rebecca Heron, Tong Kang, Brent Lang, Kwan Lee, Melanie Lemanski, Sneha Nayar-Bhalerao, Emmanuel Quansah, Abran Rodriguez, Brooks Sterritt, Raymond Stricklin and Scheila Wesley Martins.
At this point, I want to be sure and acknowledge faculty members Laura Mammina and Woodrow Wagner, who organized a great orientation program for new faculty. We also have the following new staff members: Kevin Farnsworth, Amanda Rathbun, Lance Richardson, Ashley Sanchez and Heidi Shook.
Just like traditional new year celebrations, we are celebrating all of the new things and people in our lives that we will be enjoying during the coming year. I am very excited to have the UHV Executive Committee complete and in place so that we can begin the next part of every new year: deciding how we are going to change ourselves or our circumstances in the new year.
Naturally, I say this with some reticence since New Year’s resolutions are notoriously short-lived and often abandoned. But there is great energy to viewing our circumstances with new eyes and imagining a future of our own making.
In the coming year, I intend to spend a significant portion of my time engaging my colleagues, new and old, in a conversation about the future of UHV. What do we see for ourselves?
I think the logical starting point is to talk about how we see ourselves. Just exactly who are we? What are we here for? If we had to state our mission in just one short sentence, what would that look like? I already have begun the conversation with the vice presidents and deans.
I have asked the deans to begin a conversation with their respective faculty members. In due course, I hope to have a number of conversations with focus groups as well as with both the Faculty Senate and the Staff Council. I expect lively conversations.
As I have said before, I do not believe it is the president’s job to decide on and then declare the mission of the university. Rather, I believe it is the job of the president to perceive the consensus of his colleagues in order to clearly articulate what our mission is and then become the chief advocate and tireless communicator of that vision as well as the primary warrior and champion of that cause.
I believe there is a great future in store for UHV. I am excited about the energy being generated by all of our new colleagues.
I look forward to what I believe these lively conversations are going to reveal about our future. I invite you to share your views with me directly by email or by participating in a focus group as we move forward. The questions I will be asking are simple: Who are we? What are we here for? Why would any student forego other institutions to come here? How do we best serve our region? How do we build an exceptional university community? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
In the meantime, Happy New Year!