Thursday, January 27, 2011

Call to Action

I am sitting in my study watching the snow fall and figuring out when to release my staff for the snowy trip home. Presidents make lots of decisions, but none of them is as clearly right or wrong as the snow-closing call. In effect, these decisions represent a "call to action" for a leader, and they are both an opportunity to show that you care and a chance to be wrong. In the past few weeks, Connecticut has provided me lots of opportunities around this issue, so it has got me thinking about "calls to action."

Last night, President Obama talked about this generation's "Sputnik moment" and how it relates to the current economic recovery effort. He was making a call to action. Well, I am going to do the same — call you to action! America has long viewed higher education as a pathway to personal success AND the means by which the economy increases its competitiveness. That assumption is under assault from a variety of sources, not the least of which is the mounting cost of education.

On our end, we are working diligently to better measure the results of our educational programs. At Charter Oak we created the Capstone course so that students could reflect on their educational efforts and create ideas and products that showcase their skills and knowledge. We have also launched a Cornerstone course that will orient new students and refresh their writing skills. And finally, we have begun testing a "flagging system" that will give us early alerts so we can intervene in real time when students encounter academic problems. Implementation of these three concepts represent the College’s response to my call to action.

But you, as individuals, have a role to play as well. I challenge each of you to reflect on the value of the education you have completed or are currently pursuing. What was your call-to-action that sparked your interest to complete your degree? Put those thoughts into words. Share those thoughts with your family, friends, and co-workers. Send your thoughts to me via this blog. And eventually consider sharing those thoughts with the larger community in editorials, public forums and the like.

We all need to pay close attention to what our education providers are doing. At our end, we must be transparent and concrete about our outcomes. As our customers, you must help us understand where we are succeeding and where we must do better.

That is my call to action to all of us.