Communication & Participation

Students, faculty and staff collaborate at a campus forum.

By: Professor Tom WardFaculty Assembly President


This year is likely to be busy, exciting and anxiety-provoking. We are heading into a strategic planning process that seeks to “identify a small set of the most significant opportunities” facing our university. Those opportunities will shape William & Mary in the coming five to ten years and perhaps beyond.

The timeframe for this process has strategies emerging before the end of the current academic year. This means we must progress at a rapid pace. To achieve the objective of a whole-institution process, the burden is on the process planners to provide opportunity for participation and also on all of us to take advantage of those opportunities.

It is exciting to consider that we will shape the direction of the university. It can also be anxiety-provoking to deal with the ambiguity of not knowing what those directions might be and how they may impact us.

I would suggest three things that we should do to make this effort successful.

  1. First, pay attention. There will be information circulating about the planning process and any opportunities identified. While communication is built into the method, we all must take the responsibility to seek out the information provided and to ask for that information if we don’t see it.
  2. Second, we need to participate. All of us will have the opportunity to participate in the planning process. Being informed is the first step, and responding and reacting are even more important. This may happen in an available forum, via online commenting or in a departmental or school discussion. All avenues can provide valuable input to the process.
  3. Last, we should each consider a higher level of participation. Once potential opportunities are identified, the planning process envisions the participation of individuals with expertise. If you have expertise surrounding one of the opportunities, consider volunteering to serve. You may also consider participation in governance groups, like the Faculty Assembly, that will have an opportunity to provide feedback on this and future plans.

To navigate the excitement and ambiguity of the planning process, we need to pay attention to each other, making sure that we listen, share, comment and support each other.