Conversations about mental health and well-being
The Division of Student Affairs at Oregon State University has articulated a clear statement of its vision, values, and commitments. Our grounding document, the Campus Compact, states explicitly that the faculty and staff in the Division of Student Affairs will provide leadership for the development of a sense of community at Oregon State University. The Compact further illuminates a broad set of rights and responsibilities that provide the foundation for positive relationships, standards of professionalism, learning objectives, and personal accountability within our organization.
Like most vision statements, the Compact represents our aspirations--the ideals towards which we aspire. During the time since we adopted the Compact we have achieved success in a number of important areas. At the same time, we continue to reveal and encounter new challenges and greater opportunities for success. While we can name our successes on a number of fronts, our greatest success may be that we are capable of naming and claiming our organization's struggles.
We believe it is important that anyone who is involved in our organization and anyone who is considering joining our organization have awareness of the distances we have come to our current place, it is even more important that they are prepared to join us where we are in our struggle. If our prospective colleagues enter our organization with an awareness of the challenges that we have named for ourselves, the likelihood of success will be greatly enhanced. We know that struggle is a key dimension of success and that despair can easily impede success if struggle is somehow not expected.
Our successes are rooted in the intentional redesign of our relationships. Through our work to develop the Compact we redefined our relationships in order to create greater access to leadership roles, increase our nimbleness, integrate more diversity into our leadership, and maximize our resources. The major outcome of our redesign is an organization with less reliance on traditional top-down leadership. The major theme that defines leadership within the Division of Student Affairs is "follow the energy." This theme suggests, though we honor positional leadership roles, our greatest resource for success is the energy that we are able to unleash within our organization. Beyond this major redefinition of relationships, we are characterized by a number of other attributes, which include having a work culture that:
- Encourages and rewards risk-taking;
- Offers abundant learning opportunities;
- Encourages rampant experimentation;
- Assumes responsibility for boundary-spanning relationships;
- Expects engaged leadership;
- Is willing to take and support courageous leadership stands;
- Has a visible commitment to diversity;
- Deliberately and thoughtfully pushes the threshold ofinstitutional change;
- Has achieved significant collaboration and alignment;
- Operates with a collaborative approach to resource allocation; and
- Shares ownership for the work in all units within Student Affairs.
The places where we struggle are also the places where we find energy. Through boldly confronting our struggles we will create a more engaged and dynamic organization. The challenge we will find as we consider ways to achieve success with those issues with which we struggle is that some issues will be beyond our control, while we will have the potential to greatly influence others. There is also irony in the fact that some of our struggles also are represented as some of our successes. Among our most significant struggles are:
- Defining what it means to be a truly diverse and multicultural community;
- Functioning within a politically and economically dynamic/volatile environment;
- Concurrently managing growth and change;
- Taking and supporting courageous leadership stands;
- Constructing boundary-spanning relationships;
- Achieving significant collaboration and alignment;
- Managing an institution in transition;
- Managing tremendous demands on time;
- Constructing a work environment that possesses cultural richness consistent with our diversity aspirations;
- Managing growth and development in the direction of achieving top tier status.
During the summer of 2002, the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs employed Promise intern Alex Johnson to develop and conduct a project we have called "Perspectives on Our Journey 2002." This journey included:
We invite you to read about first-hand accounts of and perspectives on our successes and struggles.