Jerrid Freeman, NASPA IV-W Regional Director
June 28, 2017
For most of us the new fiscal year starts in July. As we close out an academic year we often reflect on the successes of the year and also contemplate the goals and direction for the coming year. In this process most of us are also dealing with budget cuts. Depending on your institution and state the severity differs, but regardless it is never easy to navigate the budget and goal setting process when budgets co to use to diminish!
While I try (open to perception of course) to be a very transparent and collaborative leader, it is hard being the one who makes the final tough decisions! I remember from my sports days how easy it is to laugh and enjoy everything when you are winning, but losing often brings a whole other element to teamwork, people relations, and the pressure felt! This is just as true for all of us navigating tough decisions day to day and year to year! It is so much simpler to feel successful when no major issues arise or budgets are growing! Although, that is not the reality for most of us. The news is filled with states experiencing significant budget cuts or issues that blow up in the national media at institutions across the U.S.
The ability to navigate increasingly challenging and complex student issues, the societal and cultural issues that permeate our campuses and impact faculty, staff, and students, program and initiative eliminations, staff layoffs, and increasing mandatory services can make our roles as decision makers seem daunting! How do we measure the success of our leaders in these difficult times? Who determines the greatest priority and demand? Whose perspective is most valid? Do all staff have the capacity to look at the greater good over the individual areas or divisions? How much weight do external agents get in decisions? The reality is that there are no easy answers nor a road map for figuring all this out easily. We each must make our own decisions and find a way to lead confidently, strategically, and transparently. And if you are in a role where you do not get to be directly involved with the decisions or understand why they are being made, ask questions and learn from the philosophy. While you may not agree with the decisions made, learning how and why people make those decisions can be very helpful as well.
There is no doubt this is a very difficult reality we all deal with at different levels. We can also agree a lot of folks don't get this right all the time either. What we can do is find ways to be as integral in the process as we can be, learn along the way, and challenge when appropriate. And rightfully so, none of it is easy and simple. We work in a very complex system that mirrors a fully operational community with many moving parts and areas. We did not get into a career that is easy, we got into work that is meaningful to us and to the lives of faculty, staff, students, parents, communities, our state(s), our country, and the world. So, let's continue to learn to be the best leaders we can and help us us do better work on our campuses.
I, for one, do not have all the answers, but I do want to be helpful to anyone on their own personal and professional journey! I also know countless others within NASPA IV-West feel the exact same way. We are in this together, because we will fail alone. And that just does not seem like a good option. Good luck as we begin the new academic year!
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