Apr 19
Kim Kidwell, Dean of the College of ACES

“What is your vision for the College of ACES?”

I have been asked that question dozens of times since November 1, and it still causes me to pause because I don’t consider myself to be the sole creator of ACES’ vision. This college has a long, impressive history of success in living into the land-grant mission, and many of you have dedicated your careers to creating excellence in the College of ACES. My hope is that I can add value to what we are doing by increasing the visibility of the college, strengthening our funding portfolio, and building strong relationships with external partners. Wherever we go next, we will do it together.

I did not arrive on campus with a blueprint in hand of how to move the college forward. However, I am in the process of mindfully assessing functionality and impacts of ongoing activities across the college. I thought it might be useful for you to know how I approach the assessment process.

The first step is to notice what is working well in our current system so we can continue to do those things. Next, I determine what isn’t working by asking two questions: Is it efficient? Is it effective? If the answer to either question is “no,” I conclude that whatever is being assessed is not working. I then consider adjustment opportunities to address the breakdown. This typically evolves brainstorming options with relevant parties and then creating an action plan with a timeline to address the obstacle. Finally, the action plan is implemented and then the situation is reassessed to see if the outcome evolved or improved. If not, another adjustment is implemented and the cycle is repeated until the goal is achieved. I call this the Notice-Adjust-Evolve (NAE) model.

I use NAE as a leadership tool for implementing initiatives and strategic plans. It is a simple, yet effective, model that involves adaptively managing in real time to ensure that progress is being made and goals are being accomplished. I encourage all of you to embrace this model as well so you can identify subtle, timely adjustments that can be made to improve your overall level of success and expand your contributions to ensure the vitality of the your unit and the college.

With this in mind, the best answer I can truly provide to the question about my vision for the college is this: I am using the NAE model to create a collective vision for the College of ACES that will allow us to achieve even greater levels of excellence through timely, adaptive management. 

Mumford Hall