Communication is Everything

Sep 1st, 2003 @ 9:17 am | Author: Ellen-Earle Chaffee, President
Communication is everything. I am trying to persuade my freshman comp class that writing is everything (and for our purposes in that class, it is!). But the issue includes not only writing but also speaking, listening, reading, and lack or malfunctioning of these activities. The last week has provided numerous examples of my point.

On the plus side, the mayor and I were among those who had an opportunity to greet school district personnel as they launched another school year. In many communities and perhaps all cities, the superintendent would not even think of inviting other entities to participate.

We also had one of our regular meetings for the staff who are working on a huge change in our administrative software system. The project is called ConnectND, and it includes all of higher education and state government. The budget is well into the millions, and the work began two years ago. VCSU is one of two pilot campuses that are the first to use the software, and we are right in the middle of the most intense time for that. The workload and pressures on people like the registrar, business office, and financial aids are tremendous.

These regular meetings help keep some of us on the edges of the effort informed about what is working, whether there are problems with the next steps, and how our colleagues are holding up. Although they must be facing dozens of frustrations every day, they couch all their comments in positive ways. For example, they consistently give credit to others who are doing their best. When they need something from someone else they are gentle and respectful in their requests, knowing that others are under pressure, too. I am so impressed by their work and their communication. Clearly, both are necessary so that we can succeed with this project.

Of course we were delighted by the coverage both KOVC and the Times Record gave to the story that US News & World Report has named VCSU one of the top public colleges in the Midwest for the sixth year in a row. The only news better than that will be next year’s number seven! Again, not every community has a supportive media and press, and we are very grateful for ours.

Training, training, training has been the activity of the week, and of course that requires very focused and effective communication. We are learning not only the new ConnectND software, but also new email, and new calendar system. I am also learning Blackboard, the software we use to organize and communicate for classes at VCSU.

Yet another communication example this week was the meeting of the Foundation Board executive committee and the Fiesta VIP events team. In both cases, smaller groups of people were planning and organizing so that a larger event later on would be sure to go well. In cases like that, we are communicating so that we can continue to have good communication.

And if there is a "minus side" to communication, it’s worth enduring so that all these other good things can happen.