My film producer friend Josh Buoy and I talked recently about the power of video storytelling for universities: A well-told video story animates the discovery, learning and inspiration that happens every day in our institutions. Videography can help us connect with the subject matter in a more human and more personal way. Film shows us, not tells us about, a university’s transformational power and impact. Here are a few examples:
University of Michigan historian Martha Jones and her colleagues had a vision: As part of the university’s bicentennial celebration this year, Michigan would confront some of the institution’s most challenging issues and difficult moments.
The result is last week’s dramatic pop-up art exhibit called “Stumbling Blocks,” featuring seven installations marking less visible – and sometimes deeply troubling –U-M stories one might not expect to find during a 200-year anniversary party.
This week we attended the Association of American Universities’ annual conference of the Public Affairs Network. This group, which includes the leaders of communications and public affairs from 62 leading research universities, frequently discusses the best ways to communicate about university research and higher education more broadly.
The dialogue is particularly urgent this year in light of recent attacks on science, efforts to close off international exchange, and proposals to sharply cut federal funding for agencies that support science and medical research.
Lisa and I wrote an essay together following the conference, and it is published in Inside Higher Ed today. Our hope is that we will see the current climate as a call to action to marshal our best arguments and our most effective allies, in business and in public life, to make the strongest possible case for public investment in research.
On March 8, the University of Michigan men’s basketball team along with the cheerleaders and pep band members were all on their way to the Big Ten tournament when the unthinkable happened. Their chartered plane, just clearing the ground during takeoff, was caught in high winds. It came down hard and skidded off the runway.
The Atlantic magazine ran a piece on March 2 with this provocative title: “Being Quiet Is Part of Being a Good CEO.” The story was about research by Hal Gregersen, executive director of MIT’s Leadership Center, who interviewed more than 200 senior business leaders to find out what makes them successful at transformational change.
Gregersen notes that leaders become increasingly isolated as they rise higher in the food chain. “The challenge becomes that once people move into leadership roles, they often spend too much time in offices and too little time out on the edge of their organizations where people are voicing legitimate, honest concerns about what’s working and what isn’t,” he said. “We fail to ask new questions when we stop being in different places around different people. When that stops happening, we’re crippled by lack of information.” Continue reading