Day 2 of Washington State University’s Land-Grant 2019 Symposium
So be sure when you step.
Step with great care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Dr. Seuss Oh, the Places You’ll Go
For reasons not entirely clear to me, I woke up thinking about Theodor Seuss Geisel, the American children’s author who wrote under the pen name Dr. Seuss. And that got me to thinking about one of the last books that Geisel wrote: Oh, the Places You’ll Go. As it turns out, it was a great foreshadowing of how I would like to describe the main outcome of the day’s events.
The second day of WSU’s Land-Grant 2019 Symposium began with some introductory remarks by President Kirk Schulz, followed by my presentation entitled Land-Grant Universities: Mission in Service to the Well-Being of Communities. To oversimplify, I posed a question – why should a land-grant university care about communities? – and then discussed how it is built into their core DNA through the tripartite mission. Three panels were then convened in order to discuss these three mission components.
The first panel – focusing on teaching well – discussed how land-grant universities were most successful when their faculty members were teaching those members of the community who most needed it and yet could least afford it. The big takeaway for me from that first panel discussion centered on ways to rekindle or otherwise support and enhance faculty members’ passion for teaching, with special emphasis on what teaching excellence looks like in the face of the growing diversity of the student body.
The second panel – engaging the community – focused on the land-grant university being most successful when meaningful partnerships were developed with community stakeholders. A great deal of attention was given to the role of Cooperative Extension Services in the realization of such collaborative relationships at a state-wide level.
The third and final panel – doing research that matters – discussed how land-grant universities were most successful when scholarship pursuits in all their forms were framed directly in terms of meeting societal needs. While many issues arose in this conversation, particularly noteworthy was the pressing need to create narratives that would allow the public to better understand the significant impact that research efforts were having on the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.
The day ended with a fireside chat between me and President Schulz. This included a review of the day’s events and themes, as well as a discussion about connections to the Drive to 25 initiative and upcoming activities surrounding the systemwide strategic planning effort.
What was abundantly clear to me was the extraordinarily amount of enthusiasm among the faculty, staff, and students in attendance across all the campus sites – as well as those participating in social media discussions throughout the day – to connect with one another on the topic of the land-grant mission. To be certain, several important issues will require stepping with great care and great tact, and there indeed must be a great balancing act struck between the tripartite land-grant mission components of teaching, research, and engagement with the community. If done correctly, however, Cougars… Oh, the Places You’ll Go!