The Capital Community Conversation: Reconnecting with Purpose | Capital University


    • The Capital Community Conversation: Reconnecting with Purpose

      Bruse and Almar

      With more than 200 faculty, staff and administrators present, Capital University directed some significant energy to answering a series of questions that will inform and shape its future — what is Capital’s purpose, and what is the modern-day relevance of the Capital education?

      The Capital Community Conversation: Reconnecting with Purpose, held Monday, August 15, was a prelude to the start of the academic year and President Beth Paul’s first opportunity to engage in person with a large gathering of employees since she became Capital’s 16th president in July.

      More than a passive exchange of information, the gathering was an exercise in thought and dialogue, community dynamics, real-time content analysis, and re-examining fundamental drivers of our learning community’s collective work — Capital’s raison d’etre and why it’s worth fighting for.

      Fall Community Conversation

      “These are hard questions,” Paul acknowledged, as fully extended arms handed off inscribed slips of paper to runners who delivered them to the content analysis team. Soon, common “purpose” themes emerged on screens overhead. “You won’t answer them fully today. They’re intended to make you want to keep thinking because we will keep discussing them throughout the semester. I want you to leave here with a sense of invigoration and inspiration, and I want you thinking forward.”

      Paul also took time during the morning to introduce herself — as a leader, a visionary, a learner, a citizen of our community and a dogged champion for the kind of education Capital University provides. She presented results of the President Paul Listens survey series administered last spring, and invited all employees — as shared leaders of the University — to continue the conversation and the work throughout the fall in three phases:

      1. Where Are We Now? How do we understand as a community how the institution is functioning financially, in terms of enrollment, in its facilities, learning, academic program, student success and in all aspects; what are the realities about how Capital is functioning now; and what must we do right now to power the University’s pivot to greater strength?
      2. What is our compelling, purposeful vision, and how will we define that for ourselves, and for the world? What are our two-year strategies to start highlighting that compelling purpose and that vision?
      3. What is our deeper strategic planning process once the pivot is in motion, where we really can start pushing and stretching ourselves to think about possibilities moving forward?

      The first phase will kick off this fall for faculty, staff and administrators with a series of small-group listening, learning and reflecting sessions at the Bexley and Law School campuses to continue the dialogue about the questions posed during the community conversation. Tentative dates are September 6, 7 (Law School), 13, 21, 29 (Law School), and October 7 and 19.

      There will be a series of Where Are We Now sessions to educate and inform the internal community about key areas of the organization, beginning with budget and strategic enrollment management. Finally, there will be opportunity to talk about the broader context of higher education, and Capital’s position in the challenging context of small, private, tuition-dependent institutions.

      The first Where Are We Now session is set for Wednesday, October 5, in Schneider North, and will focus on the budget. Dr. Mike Horan, vice president for Business and Finance, will lead the discussion. The second session, on strategic enrollment management, will take place Wednesday, October 26, and will be led by Paul Hamborg, a nationally recognized expert in strategic enrollment management.

      While the small group discussions and Where Are We Now sessions are intended for faculty, staff and administrators, Paul will design comparable sessions and discussions for students.

      As a shared reading experience that provides important context for our discussions, the Capital community is invited to read Jon McGee’s Breakpoint, an analysis of disruptive forces that have changed the higher education marketplace and a guide for navigating the new normal for institutions like Capital. Copies of the book are available on a first-come, first-served basis in the President’s Office, and available for reserve at Blackmore Library. The Center for Learning and Teaching is organizing discussion groups. Contact Autumm Caines, associate director of Academic Technology, at for more information. The President’s Cabinet will host a discussion on Tuesday, November 1.

      Capital faculty and staff are invited to read more details from the the Capital Community Conversation: Reconnecting with Purpose on CapPoint. (login required)