Monday Message – November 11, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, we established a Google Group that allows for us to distribute messages to all staff in the Division, rather than just smaller, select groups as has been the case in the past.  Now that this is possible, I am taking this opportunity to send a message to everyone in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, which I plan to do every Monday morning if possible (yes, I am sure I will miss an occasional Monday).The Division is now 16 months old.  Still a toddler in many ways, walking on its own, but in its formative stages with respect to its future.  All of you are working steadfastly to serve students, faculty and staff at NC State University with the goal of making this the best university possible.

It has been gratifying to be here in DASA and at NC State working with and for you all as we do our work, and I look forward to continuing this wonderful work in the years to come.  During the past year, we have come together across programs and sub-divisions to allow for cross-fertilization of ideas, the forging of new professional relationships, and to re-envision how we do our work through strategic planning.  Our strategic plan, which builds on the NC State plan, “Pathway to the Future,” is coming together well and you will be hearing more about it in the coming months.

Like the NC State plan, the DASA strategic plan will help us to think about the future, even as we continue to excel at the programs we have in place now.  The plan has five goals associated with it:

  1. Shape Your Life - Promoting student success through personal responsibility in a supportive environment
  2. Open Your Mind - Promoting student success through educational innovation and intellectual growth
  3. Build Your Community - Promoting Student Success Through Engagement
  4. Serve the  University - Providing Leadership for Student Success
  5. Ensure Sustainability - Developing and Stewarding Resources for Organizational Excellence

We have goal groups working on how to begin implementation of strategies within the goals. Some of you will be involved in implementation teams to help us to begin this work. The plan will be posted to the DASA Website this week, so be sure to take a look at it and of course, provide us with feedback as we move through the process.

We will also be adding a Big Ideas page where you can give us your thoughts on how we might do things differently or better, or new ideas that we might consider, and ways in which we might increase efficiencies in a time of fiscal constraint.  I will update you on this page when it is made available.

I very much appreciate all that you do for our students, and for the faculty and staff that also depend on our work.  You each make NC State a great place to work, learn, and live.

Have a great week!

IDEATION in DASA – Strategic Planning for the Future

The phrase: “We Promote the Success of the Whole Student” is the opening line in our new mission statement for the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.  That mission statement was crafted at a DASA leadership retreat on January 9, 2013; a meeting that began the task of developing the strategic plan that will guide DASA for the next seven years.

The Division continued its work to re-envision itself this past Friday, January 25th.  Our IMG_1226folks came out in spite of the weather reports calling for freezing rain and snow, for which I am grateful.  In all, approximately 70 staff members from across the division came together to generate ideas for the future – in a session tagged as an IDEATION day – Idea Generation.  What will DASA look like in seven years?  What are the challenges to providing exceptional student support and services to the Colleges we will face?  How can we, as a division, respond to those challenges to remain strong and relevant, in spite of changing models of societal support, funding issues, technological change, student demographics and a host of other pressures.

Dr. Rob Brodnick, currently Associate Vice President at the University of the Pacific, joined us as our facilitator for the day.  Rob has expertise in planning, strategy, research, assessment, and organizational change and development.  He deftly led us through our planned 6 hour workshop in 4 hours, responding to the pressures of the weather.  In spite of the shortened time, we accomplished a great deal.  Our folks worked together in small groups – bringing staff from various units together to brainstorm the future.DASA Staff Generating Ideas

As a group, we generated 100′s of ideas that will help us shape a new strategic plan, and vision, for the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.  As we continue this work, I will update our progress here on this blog site.  Look for great things from DASA!

Go Pack!

Mike Mullen

One Division Serving the Whole Student

On July 1, 2012, NC State united the divisions of Undergraduate Academic Programs and Student Affairs into the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.  This realignment emerged from comprehensive campus-wide strategic planning that laid the foundation for a unified approach to student success and support in all aspects of the student life cycle.  I had the pleasure of joining DASA as the inaugural Vice Chancellor and Dean on August 1, 2012, and I look forward to continuing the work of supporting students at NC State.  And, as an alumnus of NC State (PhD, 1987), it is great to be back at this great university!

This new division is relatively novel for a large, research-extensive university.  DASA brings together programs for academic support, co-curricular activities and programs, residence education and housing, programming in the Arts, key student services such as the Student Health Center, and administrative support for curriculum and assessment.   There are four sub-divisions in DASA which provide over 50 different programs that support students and faculty: Academic Programs and Services; ARTS NC STATE; Campus Life; and Student Development, Health and Wellness.  Additionally, DASA has Assessment and IT units that serve the campus and division.  DASA employs over 450 permanent staff and over 1000 students in various capacities, with a total budget in excess of $82 million.  For an overview of our organization and to explore each of the sub-divisions, please go to http://dasa.ncsu.edu/sub-divisions.

This realignment presented challenges and opportunities.   As might be imagined, there was early concern about what the reorganization meant for the future of student affairs, as well as undergraduate academic programs at NC State.  Some were concerned that perhaps my arrival would impact the student affairs side of the house (given my career has moved through the academic ranks); however, I have worked extensively with student affairs in my previous institution, and understand the value of bridging the curricular and co-curricular in support of students and have worked to demonstrate that understanding.  And, we have worked hard during the first six months to communicate internally the value of our programming in the context of a single new division.  The value of having one division focused on the success of the whole student was communicated consistently through the early months of the transition.  Communication and relationship building will be key to forging a singular identity for DASA at NC State.

During the first six months, I hosted a division-wide meeting to greet all employees and to begin the dialogue around being a new unified division.  I have visited with each program director individually, typically in their physical space, to learn about their programs, how they serve students, and issues that affect their operations.  I have also met with college deans and associate deans, the Faculty Senate, and other key leaders across campus to discuss the new division to make the changes visible and to learn how DASA can work with their units to advance student support and success.

I have also worked to develop strong relationships with the presidents of the Student Body and Student Senate, and have participated in numerous student activities on campus to demonstrate support.  It is critical to work collaboratively with Student Government to ensure we are meet student needs.

The division has hosted monthly meetings where program leaders and key staff come together to learn about division programs and to help build new relationships across sub-divisions.  Recent meetings have featured presentations from a number of programs, to include: Academic Support for Athletes; Arts programming; the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service; Housing and Living-Learning Villages; and Student Government.

A strategic planning process has been initiated that will provide opportunities for most staff to have input into the plan for supporting all students.  Leadership from across the division will critically examine current programming and begin thinking about new ways to support students. This process will produce a comprehensive strategic plan for DASA by the end of the spring 2013 semester and will provide a roadmap for guiding our work in support of the NC State Strategic Plan: The Pathway to the Future.

The benefits to this reorganization are many.  The creation of DASA communicates the importance of both the academic and co-curricular aspects of a college education and provides a structure for unifying campus efforts at student success.  It unifies the reporting structure for academic and student affairs to the Provost and Chancellor.  It will blur programmatic and sub-division lines to provide more opportunities for collaboration within DASA, and certainly with other units and colleges. And, the creation of development and communications teams will promote a unified prospectus of DASA programs to potential donors and highlight the activities of DASA and students and faculty to the campus and beyond.

This is an exciting time at NC State. The establishment of DASA provides interesting and vibrant opportunities to enhance how we serve all students and promote student success at NC State.  We are energized as we become one division that serves the whole student.  Let us know how we are doing and share your successes with us so that we can celebrate those as a community.  I also invite you to watch for other lines of communication from DASA, from our various Twitter feeds and FaceBook sites to our blogs.

Have a great semester!

Mike