November 28, 2008
By Mark Ferguson
Photo by Mark Ferguson
Two of the people named to lead an integrated planning commitment have been wondering how to gather information from across campus, and they’ve come up with a novel approach—“going for lunch with everyone would be a good idea.”
But Keith Walker, a professor of education and co-leader of the ‘leadership and career development’ commitment, admits lunch with 28,000 people might take a while. Instead, he and co-leader Bob Bayles, a director in the Human Resources Division, will be seeking out individuals, leaders from all walks of campus, to help them achieve their commitment objectives.
“It’s a large task,” said Bayles. “But the goal is not to do it ourselves. It’s an organic process across the university.”
Bayles and Walker have a good start on identifying people with leadership qualities, having already planted a few seeds with their peers. They’re hoping to have 35 people from all walks of campus life for their focus groups by January, and 70 people by the end of the school year. This, they feel, will get the ball rolling for ideas to start springing up across the entire institution, creating action and attainable, realistic goals.
“Leadership is a journey that can be found in different ways at different times,” said Bayles. “One of my hopes is that we will inspire leadership across campus.”
“The first and last goal of a leader is to foster hope,” added Walker. “When we have a collective vision, like the integrated plan, of what we can do together… We’re looking to create a leader-ful university. There’s room for everybody!”
To realize the vision of the integrated plan, 20 areas of commitment were identified and 31 commitment leaders were named by the Provost and Vice-President Academic Brett Fairbairn. He has described the commitments as representing “20 ways to make the university a better place to work and study.”
Both Walker and Bayles spoke at length about the importance of leadership on campus mirroring the guidance of Fairbairn and senior administrators, but their mandate does not end with leadership alone; career development is mentioned in the title of their commitment.
“Leadership and career development are so closely related,” said Walker. “Careers are about a person’s movement. Leadership is about creating conditions and capacities, and we’re not letting those two terms become jealous of each other.”
When the commitment leaders were named, Fairbairn expected the work would require about one day per week from already busy university employees. So far, Bayles and Walker said they have spent at least that amount. But, they added, they are just getting their feet wet.
And besides, “we find this incredibly energizing,” said Walker about their work on the integrated plan. “We’re sometimes down on what we’re not up on, but we’re finding a positive deviance with this, something out of the ordinary, something fantastic. If you don’t have more energy, you’re doing something wrong.”
Office of Communications, University of Saskatchewan