Picture of light post and building on campus

Over the last several months, thoughts of organizational change and transformation have been on my mind, as they likely have been for many of you. We often espouse a desire for change without seriously considering what it would mean to each of us individually and collectively. After the last several years, some may also wish things would just settle as fatigue and anxiety still linger. Leaders typically understand that effective organizational change relies on shared values, even while an honest assessment of those values beyond the rhetoric may be lacking, or at least the extent to which values are shared may vary on the context and one’s positionality.

Our new president talks about finding a “true north” to help us cultivate the best educational and workplace cultures and provide bold service to our publics through a culture of collaboration that is people-focused, at least in part. The good news is that MSU has so many individuals collectively committed to these goals, even though our responsibilities may lead us to pursue them in different ways. In the Office of Faculty and Academic Staff Development, we are privileged to regularly witness this commitment playing out through the various programs for educators and academic leaders we offer and partner with others to deliver. Participants choose to invest in their professional development around so many topics and issues – from projects aimed at improving classroom learning through inclusive environments, transforming curriculum, examining ways to acknowledge all forms of academic work, providing appropriate models of community engagement, increasing ways of engaging with educators globally, documenting revolutionary research findings in ways accessible to broader audiences, to building networks across campus in strategic ways to address persistent institutional and educational issues, just to name a few. The individuals with whom we interact embody the values and expectations outlined in planning documents and central communications. They are indeed shaping the cultures of MSU in both subtle and significant ways. They challenge old assumptions of knowing and doing and construct new pathways that contribute to a future they actively shape rather than waiting to be led there.

Leadership authors use different terms for those who choose to invest in ways that help chart new paths, especially those without titles that set them apart from others. Nomenclature matters, but in the end, moving towards that better future to which we say we aspire – our “true north” – seems to require us to acknowledge everyone who is engaged in the hard work of making this a better place for all. The work of organizational change and transformation is ongoing, whether in large strides or small steps. Appreciating the progress made and deeply held core values means recognizing those with whom we walk on this institutional journey, those who came before and those yet to come.