Being the dean #2 – creating a vision

Since this year I am the dean. Building on books I read about academic deans and my own observation, I wrote a manifesto on how I want to approach my deanship. Within this blog entry, I discuss #2 from this manifesto.

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“The dean tries to jointly create a vision for the faculty. Integrating the different ideas of professors and other faculty, as well as our colleagues both within and outside of Leuphana demands recognition of the bigger picture, as well as being able to compromise. Please help the dean to create this vision.”

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We are a faculty of more than 250 people, with more than 30 professors. We are diverse. We have sustainability as a joined goal. Naturally, we have different ideas, strategies and approaches to academia. I see this as our joined strength. We are also linked within the University, and also to colleagues outside of Leuphana. What are now the key steps to create a vision? Is is even possible to create a vision? Our former chancellor Helmut Schmidt famously claimed that “he who has vision should go see doctor”. While it is true that we should not waste our resources thriving for some unachievable vision, I think one key aspect of vision is to push beyond our imagination, regardless of initial limitations. To achieve this, recognition of diversity is pivotal. By combining different entities, such as knowledge domains, methods, approaches, frameworks etc. may enable us to create something novel. This demands a proper setting, enabling exchange and multiplication of the different faculty. Surely this poses key challenge, as it requires initial investments and lots of diplomacy.

This is one of the key goals of me being the dean. Bringing together diversity and excellence is a great challenge, but it is also very rewarding. The group of people at the Faculty is not only diverse, but also large. Diplomacy and efficiency in creating exchange is one of my key goals.  However, creating linkages demands knowledge. This can be knowledge of the rest of the faculty, but also includes knowledge of people outside of the faculty. One key goal of the dean is then to try and integrate all these different types of knowledge.  Creating a coherent and novel picture out of this knowledge is then -potentially- a vision.

Here, another vital step is necessary to be noted. Creating a vision should not be restricted to foresight. While it is vital to envision potential future trajectories, I consider it even more important to understand a goal -even a soft goal- that you want to target. We need to create visions not only by foresight, but also by a clear and bold anticipation of what we want to achieve.

Therefore, the dean needs to be able to communicate this vision and make it a participatory exercise of the faculty, university and other players. I am glad to help integrate this vision out of the coherent canon of knowledge and goals that unites us all.

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