New Responsibilities

I recently keynoted Mount Union College’s faculty fall convocation. I focused almost exclusively on the notions of digital expression as a form of scholarship, new forms of conversations, and various disruptors to higher education in general. As a part of that I do a bit of a deep dive into social computing and the social web as it relates to what we are being faced with as educators, leaders, and citizens. I mentioned at one point in passing that I had started a new blog as the Vice President for information technology and CIO at Stony Brook University and that I was struggling a bit with where to draw the line on what and when to write. I left it at that and continued along my typical path when talking to room full of faculty and didn’t think again about it.

After the break, they unexpectedly asked if I would stay an extra hour to do some open question and answer. The first couple questions were typical and then I got thrown a curve ball — “what is your responsibility as a campus leader to engage members of that community with social media tools like blogs, twitter, facebook, instagram, and others?”

I’m not sure why the question caught me off guard, but it did.

I answered it the best I could … I told her that if you want to find ways to connect with the larger campus you need to leverage as much of the social web as possible. That means taking the step to share thoughts in the open — and knowing the line that cannot be crossed when doing so. It means once that content is out there that it is out there and people can easily push it into other social spaces to help various members of the extended community discover it. It also means participating in new ways — what I mean by that is taking the time to comment back when people engage, it means liking pictures on Instagram, and maybe reposting stuff on tumblr. I do think all of this is actually part of the emerging requirements if you truly want to engage your community as a leader.

Universities are tough places to drive communications effectively. There are so many varied audiences that plug into very different channels. For that reason alone, I think it is critical to understand the affordances of social platforms and leverage them to effectively reach the various people in each segment. Should I be blogging about my early days at Stony Brook? I think so. I would be curious to know what others think.

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