Otterbein University realizes its potential by reaffirming core values

A new idea can come from anywhere, but then it goes to the faculty’s curriculum committee. Once the committee signs off, the idea goes before the University Senate.

This recommending body is able to vote on new programs and investments. It has an equal number of faculty and students, as well as representatives from administration and the support staff.

“It works from the bottom up, so the proposals come through the curriculum committee to the senate itself, and then from the senate to me, and from me to the board,” Krendl says.

Everybody is educated on Otterbein’s opportunities and strengths regularly, which creates a conversation.

“I’ve been at several institutions and I’ve never seen a process that is so community based and has so many voices at the table in the decision-making process,” she says. “That really strengthens our opportunities for success, because you do have that buy-in from everybody who has been participating in the process.”

Even though it adds layers, the school is still fairly nimble. A new systems engineering program was approved within one year after the idea was first proposed.

The people involved are sensitive to deadlines, because they know higher education has to move quickly. But they don’t want to cut corners in the process, she says.

“There is, with each of these initiatives, a very concerted effort to have conversations upfront, to provide the data, to provide the answers to the potential of a new program,” Krendl says. “It’s a pretty serious process and it’s worked well for us.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Shepherd in change with a mission and vision tied to your core values.
  • Identify priorities by focusing on strengths and opportunities.
  • A community decision-making process creates buy-in.

 

The Krendl File:

Name: Kathy A. Krendl, Ph.D.
Title: President
Company: Otterbein University

Born: Spencerville, Ohio
Education: Bachelor’s in English literature from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin; masters in journalism from The Ohio State University; doctorate in communication from University of Michigan.

I taught at Ohio State when I was writing my dissertation at Michigan, so it was an interesting year.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I had five siblings and we operated a product market from our farm. That’s the way we all worked our way through college.

I learned teamwork, because we were all paying for each other’s college educations. I was fourth in line, so we put my brother through school first and then two sisters and then me.

My job was driving tractor, and we all had different jobs. It was not something that any one of us could have done on our own, but it was something that we learned to rely on each other’s skills, talents and determination to get each other through college.

What is the best business advice you ever received? I guess I would go back to that farm lesson. Build a strong team and work together, work in collaboration with one another. Support each other’s strengths and hold each other accountable.

If you weren’t a university president, is there another job that you’d like to try? I love teaching. I have always loved teaching, which is why I have never given it up.

I suppose I would go back to teaching. Some of my high school students have gone on to do amazing things. It’s watching that potential. It’s seeing kids light up. It’s seeing them realize what they have the ability to do.