The Power of Dialogue: Defining One Ursinus
For more than a year, the Ursinus College community has been working together to foster the notion of One Ursinus—one of the pillars of President Robyn Hannigan’s strategic framework and a guiding principle that strengthens collaboration, well-being, inclusion, communication, and trust.
On Wednesday, August 23, faculty and staff came together for the annual community conference to better define One Ursinus and identify the ways in which it can help fulfill the mission of the college. The keynote presentation included remarks from Jennifer Ball, vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion, and access at Clarkson University, where she also serves as a professor of history and social documentation.
“You’re already on your path to shared community,” Ball said. “Keep building it and investing in your relationships.”
Ball introduced an interactive poll for the 120 participants in Olin Auditorium, who were encouraged to submit a word or phrase that best defines Ursinus. The submissions included words like “collaboration,” “community,” and “collegiality.”
“But there are also hard things to describe at Ursinus,” Ball said. “There are challenges, right? There are things that often stymie strategic plans and to make it work, you must have crucial conversations.”
“We are structured to talk and to debate; to talk and have discussion,” she said. “But what we really require—and what is rare—is dialogue. Dialogue looks for connectivity within a community where two sides work together toward an understanding. One side listens to find meaning and points of connection. One searches for strengths in another’s position. Dialogue creates an openness to learning from mistakes and biases. It remains open infinite.”
After Ball’s presentation, faculty and staff broke off for small group exercises to identify the characteristics they value and want to include in expectations for Ursinus’s shared community.
President Hannigan’s annual state of the college address followed the community conference, where she provided updates on budget planning, enrollment, philanthropy, and more.
Ursinus also recognized staff for outstanding achievements and exemplary services to the college community. This year, Mechanical Trades Supervisor Troy Sweisfort earned the Flora A. Tortorelli Staff Service Award and Director of Facilities Steve Gehringer was awarded the Laughlin Distinguished Administrator Award.