Living our Core Values – Integrity

The final entry in our series on Living Our Core Values finds us looking at what it means to act with Integrity. Thanks to Roger Dusing for taking the time throughout the year to share these thoughts with us, and we look forward to another 140 years of success.

Visit our archives to read other posts in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY, CIVILITY and RESPECT, EXCELLENCE, GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP and INTEGRITY.

We act with INTEGRITY through honesty, efficiency, and reliability

I have looked forward to writing this post, not because it is the last one of the series, but because integrity is such an important foundation for all of our other core values.

In one sense, integrity is easy – always do what you say you are going to do – always act consistently with what you say. What could be easier than that? But, if it was really that easy, everyone would do this all of the time and we would not even recognize integrity as a value; it would be as common as the air we breathe. Unfortunately, integrity is not that common, so something must be getting in the way.

As we look back to the core value statement, we exhibit integrity through honesty, efficiency, and reliability. Therefore, those who have integrity work in an efficient manner, produce reliable and consistent results, and are honest about their contributions. They are honest with others – and with themselves. Sometimes this self-honesty can be the hardest of all.

Integrity gets sidetracked by deception. We might be afraid to fail, so we exaggerate our results. We might be insecure, so we adapt a defensive or aggressive posture toward others. We might not have enough work to do, so we stretch what we have so that we’ll look busy to others. We might make a mistake, so we blame it on the technology or a coworker. In all of these situations, we tried to avoid accountability and therefore acted without integrity.

Looking at our other core values, one who exhibits integrity, by definition: is accountable to others; interacts with civility and respect; seeks excellence in everything they do; celebrates global citizenship through service; and embraces inclusivity via teamwork and collaboration. If one does not have integrity, one cannot exhibit any of our other core values.

Integrity, through honesty, efficiency, and reliability is what it’s all about. With integrity, we can accomplish anything we set out to do. Without it, we will accomplish nothing. Please join me in making integrity the gold standard for Park University.

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you my perceptions and interpretations of Park University’s Core Values. It is my hope that these blog posts will encourage thoughtful discussions and help to cement these values as the foundation for our next 140 years.

20141006-Core Values


Living our Core Values – Inclusivity

Roger Dusing continues our series on Living Our Core Values with a look at INCLUSIVITY.

Visit our archives to read other posts in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY, CIVILITY and RESPECT, EXCELLENCE and GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP.

We embrace INCLUSIVITY that fosters diversity, teamwork, and collaboration

In 1995, BJ Gallagher first published A Peacock in the Land of Penguins. This business fable told the story of a peacock who went to work for a company filled with penguins. The penguins felt the peacock was too colorful and did not fit in. They discounted his ideas and suggestions. But, when the polar bears attacked, the peacock’s new perspectives on the problems saved the day. (I hope I didn’t just ruin the book for you.)

The story is simple, yet the message is profound. If we are all alike, then we think alike and solve problems alike, and probably reach similar conclusions. That makes for a very comfortable environment, but not one that prepares us for the challenges that lie ahead. Park University needs creative solutions to complicated problems. We need a variety of perspectives and opinions. To get that, we need an inclusive workforce – one where those who bring new perspectives and ideas are welcomed and allowed to thrive.

Some organizations call this diversity rather than inclusivity. Here is how I see the difference. Diversity is a measurement – an external evaluation. Inclusivity is an action. We can act in an inclusive manner, and if we do, our actions will result in diversity.

When we behave in an inclusive fashion, we also foster teamwork and collaboration. The act of opening ourselves to other views and opinions encourages us work together. When we collaborate, we find synergy. Stephen Covey says that too many groups embrace the principles of compromise. It sounds easy. We each give up something that we want, so we can get agreement on something else. The problem is that if everybody compromises, nobody gets what they wanted, and the solution is dissatisfying to all. Covey instead suggests synergy. Synergy means that we all work together, collaboratively and inclusively, to reach a unique solution that is better than what was being proposed by any one party.

In addition, collaboration and teamwork foster a shared sense of accountability. When we work together with synergy, we become reliant on each other so we naturally come to expect others to perform. That expectation then translates to a sense of accountability to others and ourselves. If we are not successful, then the team fails and in an inclusive environment, we all work to make sure that does not happen.

Park University values inclusivity. We want people to welcome each other with open arms, and open minds. We want a diversity of thoughts, opinions, backgrounds, and perspectives. We want ideas collaboratively shared, nurtured, and developed. Another word for this idea is collegiality, and where better to experience a collegial environment, than a 140-year-old college founded on Fides et Labor?


Living our Core Values – Global Citizenship

As we hit the midpoint of the Spring 1 term, Roger Dusing continues our series on Living Our Core Values with a look at GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP.

Visit our archives to read other posts in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY, CIVILITY and RESPECT and EXCELLENCE.

We celebrate GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP through our connected learning and working environment, as well as community stewardship

Park University has a rich heritage of connecting learning and working. Our original students worked in lieu of paying tuition. They cooked the food, washed the clothes, and built the buildings; all while earning their academic degrees. There is a tradition of service and stewardship.

One of the great things about working for Park today is that we are surrounded by our customers every day. Many employees and their families are also customers. These connections allow us to provide “learning” to our students while we are also learners ourselves. We learn more about academic disciplines through research – we learn more about teaching, customer service, and managing through practice and training. We are embraced by an environment steeped in learning, working, and service. We are citizens of Park University, and of the global universe that surrounds us.

Citizenship, in all forms, is a blessing. It means that you are entitled to the benefits and protections of being part of an organization that shares common values and beliefs. Citizens are connected through friendships and work relationships, and through their common objectives. Citizens can expect to be treated as partners, compatriots, and colleagues.

However, citizenship comes with price. That price is the responsibility (or accountability) to act as a citizen – to dedicate your efforts for the greater good – to put the needs of the organization above your personal needs – to express your opinions constructively – to give as much as you receive.

As citizens of Park University, we must also recognize that what we have to give is also needed by others outside of our University. We are also obligated, as both individuals and as a whole, to be citizens of the world, and to give back and serve the communities around us.

I searched for quotes about citizenship and the some of my favorites are below, but best one came from a first-grade reading/social studies lesson:

What is a good citizen? A good citizen is someone who respects others and their property. He/she is helpful and considerate, willing to put others first. He/she listens to the views of others and thinks about what they have to say. He/she helps people who are not in a position to help themselves. He/she respects the environment and does not damage it any way. He/she works hard. He/she is well mannered and pleasant. He/she is always willing to learn.

As citizens of Park University, what better model could we have as global citizens, than to act like First Graders?

Some additional quotes on Citizenship

The true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.

Ann Landers

Citizenship is a sense of belonging to a community for which one bears a responsibility.

Walter Berns

Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it.

Martha Gellhorn

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have.

Margaret Mead

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

Marcus Aurelius

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

John F. Kennedy

Living our Core Values – Excellence

The beginning of the Spring term is a perfect time for the third entry in our continuing series on Living Our Core Values. Guest author Roger Dusing takes a look at how we can bring EXCELLENCE into our daily life.

Visit our archives to read other posts in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY and CIVILITY and RESPECT.

We seek EXCELLENCE in all we do, with passionate learning as our highest priority.

In 1982, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman published In Search of Excellence. This groundbreaking book described eight themes that the authors argued were responsible for the success of the companies they studied. This best-selling book was followed by A Passion for Excellence by Peters and Austin in 1985, Jim Collins’ books Good to Great in 2001 and Great by Choice in 2011, and many more. What these books have in common is research into organizations that have made an intentional decision to focus on excellence.

Park University values that intentional focus on excellence. We don’t just want to be a “good” university that is an “okay” place to work where students get an “adequate” education. That is not what we are all about. Park University wants to be a phenomenal organization, that is a best-in-class place to work, and where students get an outstanding education.

To achieve this ideal, we will have to work very hard. Park will need to embrace change – to challenge every assumption – to push ourselves, and each other, to be the best that we can be. Excellence is never an accident. Einstein said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Tom Peters said “every organization is perfectly organized to achieve the results they are currently achieving.” What both of these men are saying is if you want to be better, you must change something – and maybe everything.

We need to create an environment where we constantly scrutinize our work – not just our effort but our results – and if they are not “excellent” then change something. Don’t form a committee to study it. Don’t hide in a corner and hope nobody notices. Don’t shout from the back of the room “somebody needs to do something about this!” Instead, step up and say, “here is my idea and here is how I want to help make that idea a reality.”

At the heart of this search for excellence is passionate learning. While we must strive to be efficient and fiscally responsible, we cannot lose sight of our mission to provide an outstanding education to our students. We want them to have a passion for learning and the opportunity to fulfill that passion. But, it is not just our students who love to learn, it is also our employees. Our environment should push us all to never stop learning. To continually strive for new knowledge and new ways to apply that knowledge. The adage is “when you stop growing you start dying.” We want everyone to continue to grow and use that new knowledge to drive excellence.

Excellence comes from a mix of passion and hard work. It is time for each of us – every single employee – to pick up a portion of Park University, put it on our backs, and take the responsibility to make that part of the University excellent. Make a vow to yourself, and everyone one you work with, to never go home at the end of day without being able to say proudly – I did my best today – I was excellent. If we all do that, we cannot imagine how great we can be.

Living our Core Values – Civility and Respect

Continuing our monthly series on living our core values, guest author Roger Dusing shares his thoughts on bringing CIVILITY and RESPECT into our daily lives.

Visit our archives to read the first post in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY.

We treat all with CIVILITY and RESPECT while being open and honest in our communication.

When he was a young man, George Washington wrote out 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. This was likely an exercise in penmanship and he was transcribing a list first written by Jesuits in 1595. Click here to read the full list. It is remarkable that over 400 years later, although the language has changed, civility and respect have not. Some rules are basic: don’t chew with your mouth open; if you cough, sneeze, sigh, or yawn, do it quietly; and kill no vermin, fleas, lice, etc. in the presence of others. Who doesn’t try to exemplify those ideals every day?

Park University’s core values say; “We treat all with CIVILITY and RESPECT while being open and honest in our communication.” President Washington might have said; Treat everyone with respect (1); Do not embarrass others (3); When you speak, be concise (35); Do not argue with your superior, submit your ideas with humility (40); When a person tries their best and fails, do not criticize them (44); When you give advice or criticism, do so in private and with gentleness (45); Actions speak louder than words (48); Don’t believe everything that you hear (50); Allow reason to govern your actions (58); and, Do not give unasked-for advice (68). My favorites include; Don’t start what you can’t finish, keep your promises (82); Don’t talk behind people’s backs (89); and, Lead by example (59).

We can learn a lot from these 16th century Jesuits, and from George Washington, who strove to live by these rules. We are part of an organization that values discourse and creative thinking. We encourage challenges to the status quo. We expect to be held accountable and to be challenged for inappropriate behavior. However, all of those things must originate from an attitude of civility and respect. We must learn to listen first for understanding, and only when we understand the other person’s perspective offer our own thoughts. We must talk about ideas, not about the people who offer them. We must give deference to our decision makers, and once a decision is made, do our best to implement it, rather than chaff against it. We must show our respect for others by being on time, dressing appropriately, and being courteous. Civility and respect are incompatible with shouting, cursing, berating, belittling, harassing, or ignoring.

One last thought; civility and respect don’t flow from a position that others must go first. You can’t say I won’t be civil if I don’t think you are being civil. Washington’s list contains 110 things I must do to act in a civil and respectful fashion. This is a list of small sacrifices that I can make, for the good of the organization. Fast forward from 1595 to 1987 when Michael Jackson sang “I’m starting with the man in the mirror / I’m asking him to change his ways.” That is the path to civility and respect. Let’s all walk that path – together.

I hope you’ll continue with me on this road to living Park University’s Core Values when next month I’ll address EXCELLENCE.

Living our Core Values – Accountability

As Park University nears its 140th anniversary, President David Fowler has championed a renewed commitment to our core values, and as part of that continued effort, we have invited Roger Dusing, associate vice president and chief Human Resources officer, to join us as a contributing author to the Pirate Insider. This monthly series will highlight each of the core values, sharing examples of how they are applicable to daily life.

Our first installment is on Accountability — We expect accountability for our actions at all levels, to each other and to Park University.

I believe that the term ACCOUNTABILITY has gotten a bad rap. In the media these days, about the only time you hear “accountability” is when something has gone wrong and there is a call to see who will be held accountable. In other words, who will be punished because they didn’t do their job right? Or, maybe they are the leader of an organization that was not successful and regardless of the circumstances, it was their fault. Accountability is shouted a bit like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland shouting “Off with their heads.” If being accountable means that if you fail you will be punished, why would anyone want to be accountable?

One of Park University’s core values is: We expect ACCOUNTABILITY for our actions at all levels, to each other and to Park University. We need to make sure that what we don’t mean, is that is if you don’t do your job, you’ll get punished. We need a richer definition of accountability.

According to Andy Wood and Bruce Winston, accountability is much more than that. They define Leader Accountability as:

  • the leader’s willing acceptance of the responsibilities inherent in the leadership position to serve the well-being of the organization;
  • the implicit or explicit expectation that he/she will be publicly linked to his/her actions, words, or reactions; and
  • the expectation that the leader may be called on to explain his or her beliefs, decisions, commitments, or actions to constituents.

I like this definition. It has enough context to help us really understand accountability. First, while you can assign a task, you can’t assign accountability – it has to be willingly accepted. However, if you accept a leadership role, you must understand that accepting the role, means accepting the accountability that comes with it. Secondly, you can’t hide from accountability. You must expect that you will be publicly linked to what you do and say. Accountability is visible. Finally, your constituents; which may be your boss, your peers, your subordinates, or your customers; have the right to ask you to explain why you did what you did.

You’ll note that there is no reference in this definition to punishment. What there is, is this: if you don’t do what you committed to do, you should expect that someone will notice, and they have the right (in fact the obligation) to ask you about that, and you have an obligation to explain. For some, that will be uncomfortable enough that it may feel like punishment. In other circumstances, The University might decide that there needs to be disciplinary action as a result of whatever the behavior was, but that action is, in itself, is not all that accountability it about.

At Park, we strive for accountability, not to avoid punishment, but because organizations whose members behave in an accountable fashion work better. Those organizations are open and honest. People are upfront with issues and concerns. They set and achieve realistic goals. They challenge each other do more, and to always, ALWAYS, do what’s best for the University, not for themselves.

Now, the next challenge is the manner in which we hold each other accountable, and that is rooted in our next core value – CIVILITY and RESPECT.