July 1, 2014
Dear Members of the Goucher Community,
My wife, Kimberly, and I are here at Goucher College! We look forward to meeting students, alumnae/i, faculty, staff, families, and friends, and to becoming integrated with the Goucher community.
I have done a lot of research about Goucher leading up to this moment, but nothing can compare to learning from those who have lived the Goucher experience. This is a wonderful institution with an enviable heritage, and I am honored to be a part of it. I will be depending on students and families, faculty and staff, and alumnae/i and friends for their wisdom, passion, and support. In return, as always, I pledge to be humane, transparent, and strategic on behalf of this institution.
In that spirit, as far as my official duties and my vision for the presidency are concerned, here is a quick preview of what I am thinking:
A Listening Tour
I will be spending as much time as possible in the first year visiting every academic department and administrative office on campus, and as many student, alumnae/i, and community groups as will have me. I need to know all I can about the amazing teaching and learning going on here, as well as the vital continuing connections that keep Goucher strong. In the coming months, I also plan to take a listening tour, during which I will visit several cities throughout the country so I can meet members of Goucher’s extended community. We’ll post the itinerary here on the website as soon as it is set.
Open-House Discussions for the Campus Community
I believe it’s important for the campus community to know I’m approachable and open to new ideas, so I’m inviting staff and faculty members to a couple of low-key open houses—as soon as possible. These will be held at the President’s House during my first week at Goucher.
My job is largely to function as a “curator of risk.” I don’t teach the classes (actually, I will teach one) or balance the books. Other people will keep the day-to-day operations running smoothly. The best I can do is to make sure we enroll promising minds, hire great people, and encourage everyone here to build something important. In this time of great challenge and opportunity in higher education, I will ask everyone in the Goucher community to help create a culture that rewards innovation of all types—but especially in student learning.
Strategic Planning and Focus
Goucher has done a lot of strategic planning, and my hunch is that we do not immediately need a new master plan, but rather to continue the process of prioritization, focus, and integration. Part of the new higher education climate is a demand for a faster planning cycle. I need to understand from everyone in the Goucher community what is truly distinctive for Goucher and what tactics we might employ for a few strategic and short-term goals. Again, I will be listening intensively this year. I will be asking for feedback about what sort of process will help us move forward in the short term—without lots of new committees.
Finally, the most important message at this point is that I am open to all kinds of ideas. I hope we can build a community that tolerates diversity of thinking in every way.
If you want to know more about me or my record as an educator; visit my website, josebowen.com; watch my Teaching Naked TED talk; or read my last book, Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2012, winner of the Ness Award for Best Book on Higher Education  from the American Association of Colleges and Universities). If you are on Facebook and like dogs, you can always friend me there, but my Twitter feed, @josebowen, is only about higher education.
I am really looking forward to getting to know and work with everyone at this great institution and, again, Kimberly and I are truly thrilled to be here.
José Antonio Bowen