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Sustaining Change Over the Long Term

Information on this page is drawn from presentations by Judith Ramaley, President Emerita and Distinguished Professor of Public Service, Portland State University

Your own work is probably demanding and exhausting, therefore setting up a Cycle of Innovation at the beginning to Make Change Happen at your Institution will be imperative. Sustaining that change will depend on how well you understand your campus culture and how well your project fits into that culture. Also, you will want to consider how your work offers insights into supporting student success and preparing your graduates for a changing world. Finally, you will want to identify what you are learning from your work that can be shared with colleagues in other disciplines and adapted to different contexts.

When considering sustainable change over the long term, think about the following:
  • Is your enrollment is dropping OR is it growing very rapidly. The focus of the administration is on the budget and on responding to the changes in enrollment. How can you position your change project as a way to respond to this challenge?
  • The base budget of your institution: has it been cut severely for several years in a row and do people feel impoverished and without the capacity to do much of anything new? If so, how can you make a case for my project in an environment like this?
  • Have you been supported by a grant (internal or external) that is now expiring with no hope of renewal or continuation? If your preliminary work may be encouraging but not yet convincing and the changes you are pursuing could take a decade to be fully realized, what can you do to continue your work?

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As you get ready to expand your efforts as well as retain and define the next stages of your next project, identify the gatekeepers or stakeholders who influence or control the distribution of resources and the setting of institutional priorities. You can gather additional support by identifying the groups where you can generate the most interest and financial support. For example, whose questions can you find the answers to or the beginning of answers that arise from the project you are currently building. Pay attention to what people are talking about, their concerns, and identifying the larger changes that will be needed for your vision to be embraced and incorporated into your campus culture. Also, think about what you have learned that would be useful to others and share those findings with them to build that community within your campus culture.

Can you clearly state the core value/mission that you want to sustain and the connection to the larger mission at your institution and to student educational success What is your message to stakeholders? You will want to have a clear and defined message about your project and the value of the work. It should not be in authentic "Geo speak," you need to talk about your experiences in broader and relatable terms and perspectives such as connecting to broader aspects of the curriculum, campus goals, and mission. Connecting your project to your campus culture will gain internal support and based around common goals.

The ability to effectively communicate your mission to stakeholders/leadership with an "Elevator Speech" will help promote your project on campus at gatherings of some kind or other venues for raising awareness. You can prioritize these venues and networks, and if you are not apart of those networks, how could you gain access to them? Make use of the assets (related projects, implementation of similar strategies, areas of special emphasis on campus, goals of the strategic plan) that you have identified and how you can gain or maintain network access to them.