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One of the most powerful tools any leader has at his or her disposal requires no budget, no advanced degree, no board of directors, no special equipment.

Listening.

It is one of the simplest acts to carry out, but also one of the most potentially transformative.

As we ramp up our spring semester and turn the page on 2017, I am excited about several opportunities we will be offering for me and other university leaders to listen to you.

In the coming weeks, we will distribute via email a university-wide employee survey. The survey will help us measure employee engagement, improve university-wide communications and allow us identify and address problems that may demotivate people, compromise student satisfaction or diminish performance.

But for us to have something to listen to, you all have to say something. That means filling out the survey, honestly and completely. Your responses will be anonymous and the folks in Human Resources, who will be managing the effort, will not be able to trace answers back to individual respondents.

A few weeks after the surveys go out, we will summarize the results and share those with you. Representatives from Human Resources and our management team will meet with employee groups to discuss strategies to enhance our culture and performance while addressing any areas of concern.

And I am excited to continue to hold town hall meetings, a hallmark of my presidency since I was inaugurated. These offer another outstanding opportunity for more immediate two-way listening – I can bring you up to speed on our plans, and you can tell me what’s on your mind.

We have set student town hall meetings for Feb. 13 and March 28. On March 21 we will convene a faculty and staff town hall gathering.

As John Smith, the former CEO and president of General Motors said, “Good things happen when you pay attention.” It has long been and remains my intent to pay attention to what you all have to say, and I look forward to hearing from you in the coming weeks and months – and beyond.

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