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Dean's blog: Your voice matters – Ubuntu


Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

It’s an exciting time, happening during a very challenging part of the year. Courses are in full swing. Family demands of the pending busy holiday season are high and many of us are already pretty exhausted. And, to add to the weight, our phones have been ringing off the hook making sure we get out and vote while your mountain of emails keeps inviting you to one meeting after another.

I’ve got the same ask of you though...please vote, or in our case, be present for and fully engaged in the meetings that matter. It’s time to use your voice to help shape your, our college’s, and Mason’s bright future.

During the recent Investiture ceremony, the closing speaker, Reverend Ivan Pitts shared a concept of ubuntu, collective wellness, he learned from a colleague from the Cameroon. When asked how he was doing, or how’s it going, he’d respond, “Ubuntu.” meaning “I’m OK, if you’re OK.”

In our case, if our people, our colleagues, our families are alright, then we are alright. We have a prime opportunity to share what is going well and what’s not alright, what needs to be changed, or perhaps the challenges we face, to help make things alright. And only you can share that information.

Participatory leadership and shared governance are crucial components of our success. With new leadership installed, strategic plans and listening tours almost complete, it’s time to shift into high gear and start the initiatives we’ve outlined for our future-- research growth; inclusive excellence; innovative, impactful learning experiences; financial and facilities support for our people; and transparent, participatory leadership. Over the few days, you have opportunities to impact many of these priorities.

In essence, tomorrow there are two ways you can use your physical presence and voice, to expand your understanding of issues, to influence, and to hold leadership, and each other, accountable.

First: REGISTER, attend and ask questions during President Washington’s unit visit on Thurs. 11/4 from 2 to 3 p.m. It’s your chance to ‘get out and vote.’ Not to select the leader. Rather, (even better), to directly influence the priorities and have your voice heard about the challenges you face.  

Second: Watch Picture a Scientist (either attend the session on Thurs. evening, 11/4) or watch it within the next few weeks on your own. We will be referencing this story and examples as we collectively advocate to eradicate gender bias in the scientific research realm.

In addition, from November 8 through 10 you can participate in one of the brand focus groups to share your thoughts on how our values and vision are brought to life at Mason and how we should better position ourselves as a brand and as a college to fully convey the Mason Science experience. Register to participate in one of these focus groups. 

I know that we’re all super busy. Some of you have kids home from school or are swamped with grading or grant writing. And I’m asking you to attend these events. Why? They are once a year (or once in a long while) opportunities to use your voice to influence priorities and culture. During these engagements, you can either describe your thoughts directly, submit them through faculty representatives Rebecca Jones and Peter Plavchan, or even submit them when you register. All will be compiled and shared with leadership to address. It’s our way of asking, ubuntu: are you OK?

And in these forums, we await your answer.