The social scientist in me views organizational agility as an institution’s ability to sense and respond to stimuli or changes in the environment. Faculty, students, staff, researchers, and our partners in the community continue to observe how UA Little Rock is carefully, yet critically, planning and adjusting the role our educational organization plays in both our academic system as well as the metropolitan area we serve.
All of us are fortunate to work alongside passionate individuals and great leaders during a very challenging time in our university’s history. In the past few months, UA Little Rock has made significant positive strides in leveraging data to rightsize the campus budget, identifying (and communicating with) potential new students, formulating more timely and competitive financial aid offers, and introducing new approaches to advising and student retention. These accomplishments are among a host of many other noteworthy enhancements designed to make UA Little Rock more effectively meet the needs of our campus and community.
Over the course of the past year, I have been impressed with UA Little Rock’s pride and resilience as we have identified and charted a course forward. Even more impressive has been the campus’ ability to quickly change course over the past several weeks with no instruction manual, prescriptive guidance, or identified model that could be leveraged.
There are many words to describe our campus’ rapid adjustment but one word that comes to mind is “pivot”. Literally, in a manner of hours, our campus radically changed – or pivoted – nearly all modes of operation. Individuals stepped up and went well beyond their current responsibilities to assist in any way possible during this time of eventful change and momentous need.
We have seen our campus faculty offering webinars and guidance on remote instruction and the need to build relationships with students. Our athletics and physical facilities staff members radically converted the Jack Stephens Center to accommodate the recent special and regular legislative sessions of the Arkansas House of Representatives.
Further examples of our campus getting involved include faculty and students who initiated the small-scale production of face shields for use by local medical professionals and researchers, in addition to the COSMOS (Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies) research team who partnered with the Arkansas Attorney General to track false and misleading websites and online scams.
The campus has truly pivoted in an amazing and positive fashion!
In less than three months the campus will experience yet another pivot as the university implements Project One, which represents one of the broadest sweeping IT projects an organization will ever undertake. The go-live of Project One on July 1 will mark the installation of the cloud-based Workday system, our new and modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) structure.
The same determination and drive for success will be needed as the campus significantly changes our business and technology environments; from introducing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), to the redesign and modernization of nearly all Human Resources and Finance business processes. We recognize the end result will provide countless improvements to the technology landscape we have today, although it is not without significant change and disruption at a time that is currently stressful and chaotic.
I speak for the entire Project One team when I say we are confident that UA Little Rock is strong and resilient. Together we will persevere while recognizing that significant progress or modernization takes sacrifices and change. We are all very proud of this campus for the dedication, determination, and commitment of our faculty, students, staff, and researchers that has driven them to achieve greatness in the most challenging of times. Project One will be a cornerstone we look back upon over the next few years as one of the many other examples that reflect the impact of the dedicated team we have assembled at UA Little Rock.