In my first six months, I have learned how eager you are to fix our systems and our workplace culture and to create structures of accountability. As I work with you on crafting our broader strategic goals and aspirations, we clearly need to stop and invest time in improving our capacity to carry out those goals. It’s sort of like repairing the Mardi Gras float during the parade, but just as necessary.
This is core to our mission. As a Jesuit university, we don’t just focus on cura personalis (care for the whole person), we also work for cura apostolica (care for our ministry, in our case, the university.) To make sure these efforts to function better stay rooted in our own values – our greatest collective strength – we will describe this as Cura Loyola.
Let me tell you what we’ve done together thus far and how I hope we can get to where we need to be.
- Diagnosis. You have given us your insights in a host of ways, from the organizational health survey to forums big and small. You have made the problems clear: the need for transparency and communication, for merit-based pay (and until then, more creative rewards and much-deserved gratitude), more rational systems, better management and workplace fairness, role clarity and a culture of accountability, starting at the top.
- Finding solutions together. We continue to build on the work done by many of you for years. Just before the holidays, more than a hundred of you participated in a brainstorming session, and we have acted on many of those ideas already. We will continue to get your help in solving specific problems, one at a time.
- Fixing broken processes. With your input, we are working quickly to speed up and rationalize the hiring process, which has now gone online. We continue to work towards a simpler expense process through the rollout of Concur. And while this year we have no choice but to continue to scrutinize expenses, we have just made the procurement and approval process more efficient.
- Investing in our talent. We ask much of you without properly investing in professional development, and without creating a workplace culture of clear feedback and growth. We will be rolling out regular trainings and discussions in the coming weeks, where we spread the talent and wisdom of our own community. We start by launching regular opt-in professional development courses on Fridays, using the topics you suggested in our planning session: from faculty development to management training.
Last month we also launched a Loyola Leadership Academy. In two rounds thus far, about 75 of us – including me, the cabinet, deans, and a host of others across sectors nominated to participate – went through a day and a half boot camp. I can tell you that – despite my cynicism born of many lesser versions of such training – this one was excellent, incredibly helpful and engaging. We will continue those training sessions until we have all had the opportunity to go, and it will give us a common language to continue to improve.
You will see a series of emails from me each month tackling a particular theme that we can work on together. None of us has an overabundance of extra time, but my hope is that we can make our lives easier and simpler going forward.
In my convocation speech, I quoted one of you describing how we talk about doing things the “Loyola way” with a sigh and a shrug. I want to get to a point where the Loyola way means the opposite – efficiency, transparency, and rational decision-making. You deserve nothing less.