Conversations about mental health and well-being
Skills - Leadership
The change in leadership personnel that led to the creation of the Campus Compact and the subsequent change in leadership structure was frequently mentioned as one of the strong points in the Division of Student Affairs. Interviewees attributed many of the other successes of the Compact to the change in leadership direction and the emergence of previously unrecognized leaders.
"Around the time of the inception of the Compact, I think it was acknowledged that the people at the top were making all of the decisions and that the people that were affected by those decisions really didn't have much say in the matter. Their input in the decisions was not valued or even sought and if it was, I got the feeling that people were just given an opportunity to talk and it didn't really matter. I attribute a lot of this to Larry Roper's arrival, but what started coming about was the acknowledgement that this doesn't happen with just a few people at the top and whoever makes these decisions are not the only ones that should have input. It was an expectation at that point that it was beginning to be okay to say, 'Wait a minute!' and questioning the decisions or asking to have actual input in the decisions that might be made in how to function. That was a vocabulary that wasn't there before."
"Larry Roper has a vision that he wants to let us manage ourselves and I appreciate that autonomy. In our office he allows that and it happens, but I can only speak for my office."
"We have a leader who trusts people to work through things and wants to give them time and space to do that and wants them to feel powerful. I think there are expectations of leaders to make things right or fix things and I don't think that is what our leadership is all about. I think that there are many other directors in Student Affairs that operate in the same way."
"People's self esteem grew, leaders who had never been were emerging and it was a shared activity. It gave plenty of opportunities for people to develop their leadership skills. These opportunities rarely existed until the Campus Compact was developed."
Many interviewees embraced the how the Compact has encouraged employees at all levels to take more initiative on projects rather than being micromanaged by their directors. Beth Rietveld of the Women's Center and Student Involvement commented, "You take huge risks when you let go of control but it's worth it."
"You don't have to have a legitimate position in the hierarchy to be a leader here. It seems that leadership is exercised at all formal levels of the organization, which has really impressed me quite a bit. That's really unique to OSU."
"Before the Campus Compact came about, Student Affairs department head meetings lacked a sense of teamwork. We really didn't know what other departments were doing and didn't really care. We weren't really a team working towards the best interest of the university, but rather just people reporting what individual units were doing. It wasn't like we had any set of operating principles on how to relate to each other or why we should care about what other people are doing on the other side of campus. It has been so satisfying to see, after the Compact was development and put into operation, how those relationships have changed."
"Now there are less bureaucratic levels and there is more energy focused at the implementation level. If somebody wants to do an event, there are many leaders throughout each committee, so anybody can speak up and get support to make it happen, instead of waiting several years for things to happen. I also think students have more opportunities to interact with leadership, it's not just seeing the leadership role, but they see people at all levels taking on proactive leadership. I hope that empowers them knowing that whatever position they are in they can speak up."
Although leadership has improved significantly since the implementation of the Compact, some interviewees acknowledged that not every part of the division has improved to the same extent. This was attributed by some to the influx of a few individuals expect and desire hierarchy as well as other long time employees that are unwilling to let go of old management patterns.
"I think that it is difficult that some departments can hang on to hierarchy because of fear. Not everybody has grown to the level where they can value diversity and put into work their awareness. There are still pockets and spots in the Student Affairs that do not see the value of the Compact. That can be discouraging, making them a barrier to leap."
"Larry Roper may encourage leadership and development under him but a concern raised by some students is that people under him may not encourage the same ideals."