Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State Marietta Campus

Institutional change and a shared vision

Jan 16, 2015 | by Kami Anderson | Kennesaw State University

As of 10:04am Tuesday, January 6, the consolidation was approved by the Board of Regents.  We are now in the top 50 largest institutions in the US.  With this official vote, the work of the past 13 months to switch to a unified institutional identity has been acknowledged.  Notice, it has not ended.  We are all clear that it really has just begun.  We are now in a complex relationship of organizations and environments.  Some of this complexity may seem like a big shift for the Marietta faculty.  Adjusting to a multi-campus university may seem new to some Kennesaw faculty.  

As a faculty member, I am still in meetings hashing out curriculum and degree programs that best articulate the new mission for the University.  Students still come to me with questions regarding their matriculation through programs and timeliness of receiving their degrees.  I must still teach and I must still write and research.  This is a delicately balanced complexity of roles and responsibilities that will help to push this university forward.  But I am merely a tiny piece in this elaborate structure of complexity.  Krücken, Blümel and Kloke (2013) explain there are many driving forces that contribute to our complexity within the university during institutional change.  Specifically they list three areas: 1) increasing inclusion of persons, subjects of study and missions; 2) substantial changes in governance and 3) transforming into “an integrated, goal-oriented, and competitive entity that increasingly behaves like a strategic actor” (p. 418).

This is not news.  Many of us have been working in the trenches in OWGs for quite some time now.  We are now starting to see the fruit of our work.  As we move to functioning as a New U, we are in the process of retooling visions within departments and offices.  This past Friday, Dr. Michele DiPietro, Executive Director for Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), shared the new vision for CETL moving forward into the New KSU. A New Vision a New CETL Presentation Martin, McCormack, Fitsimons and Spirig (2014) argue that when establishing a shared vision, it is important to realize it "is a major element of the change processes in terms of providing orientation and engaging the whole system towards excellence" (p. 2).  Details of this vision are outlined in the presentation link.  So I will pause for reflexivity as I discuss moments in this workshop that spoke most to me as a new faculty member within CETL. My profession dictates that I use my scholarly lens to talk through the personal highlights of this workshop.

There were several things I appreciated as a communication researcher.  The presence of personal identity assertion and the critical approach to faculty development.  Dr. DiPietro made clear that the vision is current "but provisional."  There is an understanding that the vision will be fine-tuned as the identity of the New KSU is solidified. Because we are in the "soft opening" of the New University, adaptability will be key.   Martin, et al argue “engaging team members in a shared vision …is essential in order to provide direction and clarity of purpose” (p. 11).  This speaks to I see my identity in the New U.  Personal identity and its assertion in all contexts is part of my primary research.  I argue for individuals to be able to situate their identities in such a way that its uniqueness is apparent always and it guides and dictates space and location in every interaction.  In the midst of complex change, Dr. DiPietro’s personal and professional examples of identity both for the organization and the individual provides the space for faculty to use CETL as canvas for developing our own identities.  Dr. Di Pietro was clear and transparent about embracing all of his identities.  As an identity scholar, I was able to see how he maintains his identities in an administrative capacity so that they guide his leadership for CETL. 

The explanation of the Faculty Development philosophy also appealed to my critical theory lens.  The presence of reflexivity and constant questioning is what I see most in this philosophy.  Lindlof and Taylor (2002) explain when a researcher is self-reflexive, he/she is consistently examining how his/her role might play a factor in interpreting information.  The CETL philosophy for faculty development allows for two-way questions between faculty and administration.  Did you know that one of the ways in which CETL connects the administration and the faculty is by providing funding opportunities that facilitate faculty professional growth while advancing the mission of the university?  Check out the awards and funds page of the CETL website to see all the exciting programs CETL offers There is room for evaluation and reflection for faculty and the CETL office.  The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Retreat as well as the Summit Conference for Teaching and Learning are just two examples of the opportunities for reflection and evaluation.  I see this as a way to give agency to faculty.

The complexities of institutional change must be strategic.  There must be an engaging shared vision presented in order to inspire each individual to embrace changes through all challenges.  Dr. DiPietro demonstrated in this workshop A New Vision a New CETL Presentation, how CETL is the micro-level example for releasing Nanus’s (1992) four main forces in transformation of practice: 1) attracting commitment and energizing people; 2) creating meaning for people’s work; 3) establishing a standard of excellence and 4) bridging the present and future.



Krücken, G., Blümel, A. and Kloke, K. (2013).  The managerial turn in higher education? On the interplay of organizational and occupational change in German academia. Minerva, 51, 417-442.


Lindlof, T. and Taylor, B. (2002).  Qualitative communication research methods (2nd ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Martin, J., McCormack, B, Fitsimons, D and Spirig, R. (2014).  The importance of inspiring a shared vision. International Practice Development Journal, 4, 1-15.

Nanus, B. (1992).  Visionary Leadership: Creating a Compelling Sense of Direction for Your Organization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.