In today’s “Five Minutes with SOURCE,” Presidential Leadership Fellows Andrea Duffy and Scott Shrake sat down to discuss their roles in the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan and its impact across Colorado State University.
You two had the opportunity to work closely on the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan as Fellows in the President’s Office, but your full-time jobs at CSU are quite different, and you bring different lenses to both the process and the outcomes. What’s something that really excites each of you about CST, given your unique backgrounds?
Andrea: My work on CSU’s Courageous Strategic Transformation has been incredible and transformative in every sense of those words.
I took on this fellowship because it offered an opportunity to build on my positive past encounters with change management and strategic planning through my program, International Studies, and the College of Liberal Arts. CST represents strategic planning on a much higher level than my previous experience.
The best part of this process has been the opportunity to engage with so many amazing people and to integrate their perspectives into a shared vision that is both aspirational and attainable. The result genuinely represents the voices of thousands of stakeholders across CSU’s diverse community, making it a highly unusual strategic plan and one that is undeniably “courageous.” I firmly believe that our inclusive process has been essential to crafting a plan that we all can see ourselves in, rally around, and work together to implement.
Scott: One of my roles at CSU is teaching in the Design Thinking program, where one of the core tenants is radical collaboration. I think we nailed that with our process.
I’m excited by how many incredible voices we had at the table and how those voices clearly and continuously helped shape our collective plan. Additionally, I love that the plan has a strong focus on driving impact beyond the metaphorical walls of our university. I’m a big believer that a university can only be successful if it elevates its surrounding community, and there’s no doubt this plan will encourage our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to elevate both our local and global communities.
Scott, you currently direct the Institute for Entrepreneurship at CSU and have a background in both business and engineering. So the word “innovation” is almost certainly one that you use a lot. But what do we mean by “innovation” when we use it in the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan?
Scott: Innovation can be a buzzword that gets thrown around. So when I speak to innovation, I usually add the caveat purposeful innovation to help reinforce that we want our innovations to have a direct impact on improving the lives of the people we serve.
Innovation in CST means doing the work to ensure that CSU remains a global leader in areas that have the biggest impacts on our social, economic, and environmental future: supporting our students, faculty, and alumni to be leaders, innovators, and problem solvers in areas of our historic and emerging strengths, including artistry, education, health, sustainability, and entrepreneurship.
“Innovation in CST means doing the work to ensure that CSU remains a global leader in areas that have the biggest impacts on our social, economic, and environmental future: supporting our students, faculty, and alumni to be leaders, innovators, and problem solvers in areas of our historic and emerging strengths, including artistry, education, health, sustainability, and entrepreneurship.”
Andrea, you directed CSU’s International Studies program for nearly 10 years, and you’ve also worked with our Office of International Programs. How do you see Courageous Strategic Transformation having a global reach?
Andrea: The scope of our Courageous Strategic Transformation is truly global. The plan is infused with international aims across learning, research, and engagement. It promotes education abroad, international enrollment, and the international impact of our campus community.
Additionally, the plan highlights the value of our general education program in cultivating conscientious global citizens and makers of change. I am a staunch advocate for international connections, perspectives, and experiences, so I am particularly proud of the plan’s global reach, but I really can’t take credit for it. As a crowd-sourced document, the CST clearly reflects and amplifies our campus commitment to the wider world and acknowledges that, while we may be land-locked, we operate in a global community.
Another term that is very intentional and appears a lot in the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan is “excellence,” which can also mean different things to different people. Having listened to literally thousands of members of the CSU community as they talked about what they hoped to see in the plan, what would you say we mean by “excellence” here?
Andrea: Throughout our conversations, we kept hearing stakeholders across campus say they don’t just want CSU to be “good enough,” they want our institution to be amazing. We landed on the term “excellence” as a way to capture that aspiration, while also keeping CSU’s essential services in view. It means going above and beyond in everything we do, in our operational and financial practices, in fostering a diverse and inclusive community, in driving innovation, and in our local and global impact.
Scott: Excellence to me means we put in the work, executed to the best of our collective abilities, and leave it all on the field. We’re tackling some daunting challenges here at CSU and at the end of the day, I want to be able to look at our collective impact and say, “We gave it everything we had and created something even we weren’t sure was possible.” That will only happen if we lean into a culture of continuous improvement and strive to do our best and most meaningful work at both the individual and institutional level.