Catalyst of Collaboration

Chris Long
14 min readOct 14, 2019

On September 26, 2019, I had the opportunity to address the Michigan State University President’s Council, which includes the Deans Council and the Executive Leadership of the University, about the values-based strategic planning process we have undertaken in the College of Arts & Letters. In our ongoing effort to cultivate habits of openness, we have been consulting with colleagues and carefully considering how to most appropriately make some of the things I said that day public. I offer an account of the presentation here with the slides the College of Arts & Letters Marketing and Communications team and I developed. In order to provide a more textured sense of the thinking that informed our process and approach, I have inserted meta-reflections in italics.

As we considered the responsibility that comes with being asked to be the first College to present at the newly established President’s Council, we reflected on how best to emphasize the kind of collaboration that will be required across the University if we are to create the culture of care and accountability we need in the wake of the crisis we are experiencing. To this end, I began by returning to January 2018, to the survivor impact statements, and to the values to which my dean colleagues and I committed ourselves.

In the wake of the survivor impact statements in January 2018, the MSU deans gathered at the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities on Sunday, January. We needed to consider how to respond to the Board of Trustees who had asked to meet with us to seek our advice concerning the appointment of an interim President.

We took that opportunity to articulate a set of values to which we are committed to living out in our relationships to one another and in our leadership of the University.

Over the course of the past year and a half, we have sought to put these values into practice during a very difficult period of the University’s history in which these values were in direct conflict with the leadership style of the interim President.

Throughout the year, every morning of each day, in fact, I have returned to this quotation from James…

Chris Long

MSU Foundation Professor, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters and of the MSU Honors College; Co-Founder of @PubPhilJ; Co-PI of @HuMetricsHSS.