Mission Statement: Why this, why now?
Hello, and welcome to Quark’s new online internal newsletter, Quark 24/7. You may be wondering why, in times of tight budgets and strained staffing, the Communications Department would bother revamping its old newsletter. Fair question. But to tell you the answer, I’m going to have to tell you a story. Bear with me.
Two years ago, soon after I came to Quark, I interviewed a professor for a story. I won’t name the professor, but I will tell you that he had taught at Quark for more than 20 years and was about to retire. We chatted about the story, but then this professor began to wander farther and farther off-topic (a tendency I have found to be endemic to the profession, often to my great delight). Soon he was discussing what Quark had been like when he started working there.
“It was much smaller then,” he said wistfully. “We used to all gather for happy hours on Friday evenings–all the professors, even some of the administrators. You knew everyone. English professors would be having a beer with Automotive Tech professors. Nursing professors would chat about instruction methods with French professors. I knew every faculty member by name. Now I barely recognize anyone outside my department.”
That comment stuck with me, maybe because I had had similar experiences at the magazines where I worked before coming here, publications whose entire staff numbered under 75. The way this professor described it, it sounded so, well, collegial.
Obviously, we can’t go back to that model. Today, Quark employs more than 850 permanent faculty and staff in four different locations–and that’s to say nothing of the hundreds of adjunct faculty who work here part-time. You can’t fit that many people into a happy hour–nor, perhaps, would you want to. But we should want to communicate with each other. Over the past five years, our enrollment has increased by 30 percent. At the same time, state contributions to the college have shrunk by an almost equal amount. Now more than ever, we need effective communication with each other as we face the challenges to come. If we remain divided, each hunkered down in his or her own department or unit, we will become a fractious and ineffective composite creation, a Frankenstein viewed as a monster by everyone else. But if we keep our communication open, if we all agree to learn from each other and to care about each other’s success, then it becomes a heck of a lot more easy to understand why each of us bothers to wake up and come into work each morning. Or evening. Or sign on to the computer, if you teach online classes. What I’m saying is: There is strength in community. And we need all the strength we can get.
So pull up a seat. Roll up your sleeves. I may not be able to buy you a beer, but I’m eager to hear what you have to say. Let’s get this party started.