Does Your Community College’s Actions Speak Louder?
As I’m sitting down to write this there seems to be a couple of news items that are making the rounds. One has to do with a decision by some state officials in Florida to prohibit the use of the phrases “climate change” or “global warming” in official state documents. The other has to do with a relatively unprecedented action taken by some in the Senate to send a letter directly to the head of a foreign government intending to impact negotiations between that government and the President. Regardless of which side of either issue you are on, they demonstrate two very different potential outcomes.
The decision to control the use of language can be thought of as primarily symbolic. It is a marketing decision that allows the State to avoid uncomfortable issues that they believe will cast the state in a less than ideal light. However, if the climate is changing then the language that they either use or avoid using to describe it will have no impact at all at the eventual outcome. On the other hand, the direct action of sending the letter by the senators can have a direct and immediate impact positively or negatively on this country’s foreign policy. In the long run, actions always trump appearances.
Community College transparency is key
I’ve thought about this in the context of what I’m witnessing among some community colleges these days. Some community colleges seem to be content in promoting the right brand, or in using the most correct positioning statements. Often times, this branding and positioning seems to take a higher priority than action. And, regardless of how well intentioned or professional our brand is, without action it will produce no real change. Back in earlier generations of the community college movement leaders would often rush to fill a community need. They would respond to a call to action first and worry about how to best “position” that action later. Many of us today seem to have become timid. While it is important to know how our stakeholders will react to the things we do, sometimes we get so bogged down in micromanaging our appearance that the substance goes away. Timidity wins the day.
Take action in your community
Community colleges hold an unprecedented place in the lifeblood of our communities. Community colleges, more than any other single institution, can have the greatest impact on economic and workforce development and quality of life for the regions they serve. So, by all means let’s continue to refine our brand and our image, but let’s not lose the courage to take action….action that can make a difference in the life of our students and our communities.
That is why, at Rich Gross Solutions, we urge our clients to sponsor community summits and industry sector forums to learn firsthand about community needs, challenges and opportunities and to develop an action plan to address them. Contact us today and we can help you better engage with your communities.
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