Promoting a culture of innovation on campus means rethinking total approach
- Bryant University President Ronald Machtley says his campus adopted a "culture of innovation," and in an op-ed for University Business, he provides tips for how other leaders can scale the idea.
- Machtley says it starts with building observation skills, which his campus does for students as freshman with a one-credit hour immersive class that teaches them to challenge real-world problems. Encouraging and creating space for feedback and for students and staff to ideate is also key to getting all stakeholders in on the process.
- He also emphasizes the importance of design and making sure classrooms are set up to promote flexibility and creative thinking.
Great ideas for transforming the campus can come from students, faculty and even support staff, but there must be a tone from the president's office which says these ideas are welcome and will be considered. In reality, in most places, decisions are made behind closed door without input of campus stakeholders, meaning these ideas are not shared. Students have begun taking back campuses via mass protest, but for faculty, and especially support staff, there is often still not a process through which they can voice their opinions about areas of the campus that may not directly relate to their job functions.
However, many of the greatest innovations on campus come from individual departments or unlikely individuals on campus. For example, many student support programs aimed around retention and increasing graduation rates actually originated from ethnic studies departments on campus, where individual faculty members felt responsible for students who may have shared similar backgrounds.
Listening sessions and specifically asking for feedback from different areas of the campus may be good first steps to take to encourage an initial exchange of ideas. But most important is making it clear that whether the idea comes from students, the grounds crew, faculty, student affairs it will be given full consideration. Asking for ideas is not enough if those submitting them believe they will be immediately dismissed.
- University Business Six steps for colleges to inspire innovation
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