Faculty and staff had the opportunity to speak with University President Jon Wallace in a series of open-dialogue sessions, “Conversations with the President,” held from March 6-April 10.
The gatherings provided Q-and-A forums in which faculty and staff were able to submit or ask questions directly. Video chat sessions were also held at the seven regional centers.
The six sessions ran for two months with an open invitation to faculty and staff only. The “conversations” stemmed from Wallace’s desire to listen and communicate with the APU community.
“When you lead a small entity, people need to feel that they have access to the person who leads,” said Andrew Barton, special assistant to the Office of the President. “This is a desire from Dr. Wallace to have these conversations and for others to ask questions as well.”
Barton is responsible for helping Wallace plan these sessions. Barton noted that the video sessions for the regional center employees are part of an effort to include all members of the university.
All attendees were encouraged to submit questions beforehand on a Google Docs form. However, those who attended the sessions also had the opportunity to pose queries at the time of the event.
The series was staged as a typical town hall meeting with responses from Wallace or the provost as well as other faculty and staff members.
“I am so appreciative of the opportunity and that he was willing to take his time to listen,” said Cindy Montgomery, assistant director in the Center for Academic Center for Service-Learning and Research. “There were many real concerns addressed, and it was very informative to hear the concerns other departments have on campus.”
According to Barton, the sessions were split into six editions in order to create a more personable atmosphere among faculty, staff and Wallace. Barton also mentioned that made for greater accessibility for staff and faculty members.
“We see this [communication] across the university. I see it in academic departments, clubs and organizations,” Wallace said. “I’m simply living out what is modeled by others. But I’m not unique in doing this; other people do it as well.”
This is not the first time the event has been conducted, and Wallace hopes to have many more of these types of meetings in years to come.
“My hope is that the community may practice good conversation, so I need to practice good conversation,” Wallace said. “I hope others feel as if they are heard and understood.”