November 2019 Newsletter

Part 1

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Dear Colleagues,

I will be sending my regular newsletter to campus later this month. In the meantime, I wanted to update you on the visits that the consultant, Curtis Lloyd, made to campus to assess our campus climate. Mr. Lloyd was formerly the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources at SUNY, and he now runs his own consulting firm. I invited him to come to campus to speak with a range of people and offer me recommendations on what we might do, at every level, to make Brockport a great place to work for everyone. I want to be the best president I can be for The College at Brockport, and I want to ensure that the senior leadership team—which extends beyond the Cabinet—has the capacity to support our mission, vision, and values to the greatest extent possible.

In his assessment, Mr. Lloyd focused on the following, which I quote directly from the consultant engagement agreement:

Nature of Engagement

“C. Lloyd Associate, LLC shall perform an independent Assessment of staff and operational dynamics to ascertain the capacity for conflict resolution; including organizational structure, operations and the core competencies of staff to self-mediate potential conflicts.  Self-mediation is simply a practical form of communication to resolve conflicts between two individuals. 

C. Lloyd Associate will seek to ascertain 1) What works well, 2) What does not work well, and 3) what can certain employees do to improve communication, respect among peers, operational efficiencies and inclusiveness.  Is it possible for members of the leadership team, and certain other key staff members, to work toward the common goal of supporting the President to succeed in educating students and administering an Institution of Higher Education? This review will include a review of the College’s employee complaints procedures and processes, and give guidance on ways to make improvements to campus climate issues, particularly but not exclusively around issues of race and ethnicity. It will look at the role of significant offices with responsibility for responding to climate issues and explore how well they are mediating and de-escalating issues, as well as communicating their concerns or other information to the senior leadership team, including the president. It will make recommendations on lines of communication and potential process changes, and may make recommendations regarding restructuring or re-aligning responsibilities.”

A major part of his review was to “assess organizational relationships to ascertain if structure, attitude or culture is impacting communication and operational efficiencies.”

He made three trips to campus, and on his final trip, he verbally updated me on his recommendations, and also offered me candid comments about our operations here, some of which focused on the roles of individuals and offices in escalating or de-escalating climate issues. Cabinet met to discuss Mr. Lloyd’s recommendations on November 1st.

I want to share his broad recommendations with you now and reinforce that Cabinet and I are committed to ensuring that we foster an environment in which the fourth goal of the strategic plan, To Be a Great College at Which to Work, can be realized by all.

Recommendations for Brockport from C. Lloyd Associate LLC

  • It is recommended that the campus leadership meet to discuss the content of this report and develop a path forward
  • It is recommended that protocols be developed to allow employees from across functional areas and at all levels to participate in the formulation of campus core values and strategies
  • It is recommended that the campus develop additional online and/or webinar training and development programs to educate employees about its core values and expectations for the treatment of fellow employees
  • It is recommended that the campus leadership undertake additional implicit bias training
  • It is recommended that the Bias Incident Reporting System be systematically revamped for clarity, and that guidelines be developed for the resolution of all complaints; specific to bias or non-bias complaints.  

In response to Recommendation One: I acknowledge that the responsibility for ensuring a good campus climate starts with my leadership team, and this includes the knowledge that everything we say and do has an impact. I have already begun meeting with my leadership team, discussing these recommendations and working on charting a path forward, with specific outcomes and measures. I want to ensure that everyone who is in a position of leadership on campus is committed to our core values—Community, Engagement, Excellence and Transformation—and they lead by example. I acknowledge that responsibility for ensuring a good campus climate starts at the top, and includes a strong commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

In response to Recommendation Two: I acknowledge that we need to continue to examine ways for our campus to seek involvement in our strategic planning processes and for us to develop routes for new employees to become engaged with our core values. As a result, we will commit to an inclusive, mid-cycle review of Building a Better Brockport. It is easy for campus leadership to forget that many of you were not here in 2016-17 when we formulated our new strategic plan, and may not know much about the inclusive process we used to undertake this important task, which included the participation of over 900 people. As ever, I am grateful to the members of the Strategic Planning Committee who undertook the mammoth task of creating the values, mission, vision, and goals of the college, and the four Goal Groups who keep us on track.

I commit to you that we will create the opportunity to invite you to take part in assessing Brockport’s commitment to our values and our strategies. We will invite campus colleagues who were not here when we ratified the plan to give face-to-face feedback via a process similar to the Vision Cafes I instituted in 2016. In addition, we will create opportunities via surveys to ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard regarding the strategic plan during this mid-cycle review. As we finalize these plans, I will be sure to update you via my monthly newsletter or through The Daily Eagle. If, in the meantime, you wish to get more information about the plan, please visit our dedicated website:
https://www.brockport.edu/about/strategic_plan/index.html.

In addition, we remain committed as a College to our Better Community Statement. We include this statement in all orientations of our students, but we can do more to ensure that our faculty and staff are aware of this fundamental, shared governance document, which can be accessed here:
https://www.brockport.edu/about/diversity/about/better_community_statement.html, and I will investigate how we might incorporate this more fully in our new employee training.

In response to Recommendation Three: I am pleased to report that the college has already invested in online training through EverFi, and a number of new options will be rolled out in the upcoming year. Goal 4.5 of Building a Better Brockport specifically focuses on our plan to “retain and develop employees while providing an engaging work environment that is supportive of the College’s mission, goals and priorities.” Online training—as well as face to face training—will be fundamental to our success in this area.

In response to Recommendation Four, I agree that ongoing training is crucial for all members of our community and that campus leadership has a responsibility to ensure that we actively pursue such opportunities ourselves. Cabinet is fully on board with undertaking additional external training in addition to the internal training that we have committed to over the years. We will lead from the top on this, and continue to encourage all members of our community to engage in activities that help us become the best leaders we can be. We will invite all of extended cabinet, as well as the wider College Leadership Summit members, to join us on this journey.

In response to Recommendation Five, it is clear that our bias incident reporting mechanism requires review. Nationally, there have been a number of challenges to bias reporting processes, most recently at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and our own branch of UUP has expressed concerns about the mechanism, concerns that I take seriously.

Many of you will know that the bias reporting mechanism was a presidential initiative; I take responsibility for bringing the idea to campus, and I take responsibility for recognizing when a good idea isn’t working as well as I had hoped. By the end of the semester, we will retire the bias reporting process in its current form. In its place, we are finalizing a central webpage for reporting complaints of all kinds, which should, in many respects, alleviate the need for a separate link to bias reporting and a separate bias response team. I want to thank all of those individuals who have worked on the team for their commitment and their service, and I look forward to debriefing with them over the next few weeks.

Cabinet Commitments

We are committed to making Brockport a great place to work—for everyone. This means we’re working hard to ensure our processes are transparent, not opaque, and that if you have a concern, you know the right way to let us know.  If you have any concerns over bias or discrimination on campus, please reach out to our Affirmative Action Officer, Tammy Gouger (tgouger@brockport.edu), who will be able to assist you.

Thank you for everything you do to help to Build a Better Brockport.

President Macpherson

Last Updated 7/1/20

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