As part of W&M’s Strategic Planning process, we as a university are reflecting on and articulating our shared values. It’s an exciting time, and I hope (and imagine) that it will have some resonance with the values we developed in the early days of the Office of Community Engagement: education, mutually beneficial relationships, student development, social justice, action, integrity, and enjoyment.
You can read more about what we mean by them individually, but one of the things that has been most helpful to me is holding them all together as part of our whole. Action without education can be mis-informed, and even lead to harmful (rather than mutually-beneficial) partnerships. Focusing our energy on integrity would get us far, but without taking time to also enjoy our work and the relationships we form through it, we’d miss out on a lot. You get the picture.
As our students wade into the depths of midterms and our partners face an increasingly complex world, returning to our values, and checking our decisions against them, will not only help us to maintain our laser focus in the right places: it will also help our big picture be complete.