Listening, Constructing Together as a Community

Groups of attendees at the Oct. 1 strategic planning forum at the Sadler Center discussed the draft copy of the mission and values statements and provided their feedback to the larger group.

By: Dr. Jeremy Martin, Strategic Planning Steering Committee Co-chair

In summer 2019, two teams led by Vice President Ginger Ambler and Chief Diversity Officer Chon Glover began working on a comprehensive vision, mission, values statement. The teams shared their work in progress with the William & Mary community on Oct. 1.

In the weeks following, online comments and nearly a dozen sessions – including at least one at each of the university’s five schools – have provided opportunities for feedback. I’ve been privileged to review the comments and take part in most of the on-campus sessions. Here are three observations I’ve gleaned from the process.

  1. We embody the drafted values as we attempt to convey the essence of our community.
    In each conversation, views diverge, converge and move in any number of directions; all are welcome. There’s a sense of respectfulness and curiosity as we remain focused on the desired end: greater belonging and flourishing. We undertake the work as an act of service to one another, with a commitment to integrity in the process and excellence in the outcome. Observing William & Mary (i.e., all of us) attempt to espouse its distinctiveness is indeed a privilege.
  2. Constructing as a group process of creation yields meaningful improvement.
    All group editing processes entail a fair bit of critique. We are, after all, an academic community. However, our conversations haven’t lingered on criticism. Rather, we explore the desired ideas, co-constructing phrases to more fully capture our intent. Where someone may not quite have the words, others join in and create together. The results are meaningful suggestions, crafted in community, for the drafting groups to consider.
  3. The drafting groups did their initial work incredibly well, and are poised to do even better.
    When asked, about 90 percent of participants in the Oct. 1 community forum indicated the statement sounded like William & Mary. For that group (primarily faculty, staff and students), “flourishing” resonated most. In other discussions, different values have resonated more. As the entirety of our community reviews the statement, each of us finds aspects aligned with our own W&M experience, and something within the statement appeals to nearly everyone in our “vibrant and inclusive learning community” (in the words of our draft mission statement). Thanks to the drafting groups, we started the review process from a position of strength. In undertaking a final round of refinements based on the feedback received, the drafting group’s work will become an even stronger reflection of William & Mary.

Time remains – though a limited amount – for others to share their views. The web form is the best venue. We want to hear from you as we refine the draft statement. And, ultimately, we want everyone to embrace William & Mary’s stated vision, mission and values as the strategic planning process continues.