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Dean's Blog: In the ‘success business’ built on transparency, with opportunities to engage

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

Last week I gave my first State of the College speech as Dean and leader of Mason’s science community. I was excited to share what I knew, what we had learned over the past year and where we hope to go in the short- and long-term future. Those who attended saw some of the data we are using to establish parameters for our priority efforts including compensation shifts, enrollment growth focus areas, and inclusive excellence opportunities.

Unlike a presidential State of the Union address with lots of partisan applause and one way dialogue, I shared information and took questions; some I had answers to, and others I’m cycling back with additional information in future faculty and staff sessions.

In the spirit of true transparency, I will continue to share what I know. Some attendees mentioned this was the first time they had seen such data (when I provided our standings in relation to other R-1s and Top 50 R-1s, our aspirational peers). Please know that our college leadership is working with the various teams at Mason to provide more updates and information as they become available. I shared my candid, honest impressions about our strengths, along with opportunities to change and evolve, based on our current conditions. I identified bold goals for the future of our ‘success business,’ including Crashing the Top 100.

Over the next four to five years, we will add about 40 faculty, and 15 to 20 staff as we grow our student population by +/- 500. As a collective, we will need to thrive in an uncertain and at times hostile economic climate to grow our academic and research portfolios. This will mean we must be agile, flexible, and even willing to change from what may have worked before to test what might best work now and for our envisioned future. As you might imagine, this means our coalitions and partners will be more important than ever.

But how do we get there? The units across the college have spent the past year creating their strategic plans. We will now work to weave them into this focused framework to create a valued, impact-driven, successful scientific community focused on the success of our people, our students, and our partners.

This session was an important milestone in establishing our college’s collective vision, our experiment if you will. If you weren’t able to catch the State of the College address in real time, please take time to listen to it now. Our mantra still rings true. Understand. Innovate. Succeed.

As updates to our efforts become available, whether you are virtual or face to face, please take time to understand our progress and challenges, and engage—provide innovative suggestions to propel us forward or overcome obstacles. I’ve created a short submission form to collect your questions, ideas, and feedback. There will be many ways for each of us to bring our organization forward.

Let’s do this.