Spring 2011

Vol. 5 Issue 2 Spring 2011

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Hope in Changing Times: Face-Lifts and Make-Overs

It seems funny to call this the spring issue when we are just heading into winter, but maybe it will give us some hope that spring flowers will appear sooner than we imagine! As I write the word hope it occurs to me that this is exactly what I’d like this issue to be about: hope and identity.

We are undergoing changes at every level and the future is hard to see… This feels stressful! My hope, though, is that if we manage the changes well, good things will happen on the far side. Because of these changes,  I see an increased need for visionary thinkers as well as effective and candid communication among groups. We need to be people who can see the future in order to draw the maps that will allow us to find our way to a new reality. Yesterday, I read a very hope-filled story about how a Canadian community college, facing many of the issues that challenge us, successfully re-envisioned itself and did so in a very positive and humanistic way (Lewington, 2010). While we aren’t a community college, many of the processes they employed could also be useful to us as we try to envision our own future. Read the full story here.

In the article, groups (including all stakeholders) examined the college’s programs and services with an eye towards doing one of four things to each: enhance, maintain, revise, or phase it out. These programs and services were evaluated with the following five criteria:

  1. relevance to the college mission
  2. student and employer demand
  3. quality
  4. resource utilization (that is, financial contribution to the overall budget and efficient use of space and equipment)
  5. opportunities for new projects

If a program was starting to lose steam, instead of simply getting rid of it (i.e. letting go of faculty and staff) it was re-energized with a new curriculum and focus to meet the demands of a new era. Candor and consensus-building during the process were key. I found the process described in the article to be very uplifting and hopeful. They were able to make positive changes come about in spite of serious budget problems. In the end, they simply took a hard look at their identity and gave it a good face-lift. By good, I mean the kind that still allows people to recognize the person who underwent the surgery!

At many of the meetings I attend lately, the question often comes back to one of identity – what is it that we, as PSU in York County, do? What is our niche? Whom do we serve, how and why? What is it that we do best – better than anyone else – how can we take that reality and re-envision it for the next part of our journey? If we were to get a good face-lift, what would we look like?

If I think of my own position on campus and put myself through this same evaluative process (heaven knows, I could use a face-lift!!), I wonder what the outcome might be. I don’t have that answer right now, but I do know that I am going to think about this in greater depth and act on what comes of it. I’ll ask myself the questions above relative to my role on campus, and see what I come up with.  Who are we, and what might our future look like? How can the resources at my disposal help us to get there?

The most hopeful thing (in my opinion) that I think we have going for us is that we are a learning community – If we don’t have the answers right now, we do have the know-how. We know how to investigate something and research possible solutions – to me that is hopeful!!!

So with all that said, this issue of the spring newsletter of teaching and learning contains resources and reflections that might help us all jump start a process of generating new ideas and innovations that can lead to positive change.

Have a happy, hope-filled holiday season, and see you in the new year! Enjoy the newsletter!


To access the parts of this newsletter, place your mouse over the tab at the top that reads Spring 2011. A drop down menu will appear with the different sections of the newsletter. Enjoy and please feel free to add your comments below! Your thoughts, ideas, input are invited and most welcome.


Lewington, J. (2010, December 7). A Canadian college reviews its curriculum and then reimagines itself. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/A-Canadian-2-Year-College/125641

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