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Dean's Blog: Transparency as a core culture value: more is always better

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

As part of the hiring process for this job as dean of George Mason University’s College of Science, I had the opportunity to meet with faculty and staff in an informal town hall. During that discussion, I shared my vision for the college and explained my leadership style as I fielded questions from the group.

One of the attendees asked me to describe my communication style and how I handle information. I explained my belief that transparency and information sharing builds trust and empowers ideation from among our scientific community. And I promised that this two-way information exchange would be an important part of our strategy for growth and prosperity.

Over this first year at Mason, I’ve worked to prioritize connecting and communicating within our Mason Science community as much as possible. Although that discussion during my interview early in 2020 couldn’t have considered our virtual situation thanks to COVID-19, when and where possible, as promised, I have shared information from the Mason administration and within our own leadership team as quickly and as fully as possible.

Whether it be our COVID-19 operational status, compensation evaluation progress, professional opportunities and inclusive excellence efforts, or even the most recent research funding results received last week, I will continue to share what I know and ask what you think, to encourage meaningful and actionable dialogue about important initiatives and issues. I have learned a lot from our exchanges thus far and appreciate those who actively share information and ideas.

Although this smallbiztrends website article refers to transparency within a business culture, many of the information sharing tangible benefits it highlights with a SVOT (Single Version of the Truth) can apply in our academic environment as well:

  • Regardless of whether it’s good or bad, all information should flow through the organization to address opportunities in a collaborative, blameless manner
  • Informed, integrated workflows promote trust and teamwork
  • A lack of transparency and reliable information flow can kill a growing organization

Over the last and next few weeks, our faculty and staff have the opportunity to share perspectives and ask questions about salary issues, coming up with variables that could be used in market assessment of faculty salaries. I’ll share the results of these surveys and town hall discussions in the upcoming College of Science Faculty meeting on August 19. And, I encourage you to participate in the open forum discussions Mason is holding regarding our #SafeReturntoCampus. These forums will review the guidance shared in the Return to Campus for Supervisors training, best practices for a hybrid work environment, and an opportunity to have your questions answered. While the forums may be of particular interest to supervisors, all Mason employees are invited to participate.

You can also join me for the State of the College address on September 22 when we can discuss our progress, share feedback on issues that matter most to you and to keep our transparent, two-way communication going.


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