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The values that guide the SPSU community

In April, I asked the Southern Polytechnic community what you consider the most important values that guide our university.  Here are the results – and a few comments on what they mean for SPSU.

As a reminder of the process, I put out 50 cards, each with a value written on it, and invited all members of the University community to come by my office, review the cards, and use colored adhesive dots to “vote” for the top six values that should define and guide this university.  The cards included the values that were identified in SPSU’s previous strategic plan, the values included in the University seal, some relevant ones drawn from the lists of values for other colleges and universities, and those values articulated by the University System of Georgia.  This process was announced to the SPSU community in late April, and the cards were available until May 24.  During that time, eight more values were added as “write-in” votes.  Of course, institutions like universities do not really have values, but the people who are part of a community share values that give the group cohesion and shared purpose.  In this project, we are considering the ideals that the members of this University community share.

The number of people who participated in this project was less than I had hoped for and expected, but I am particularly grateful to all the faculty, staff, and students who took the time to engage in this process.  The complete list, including all the “write-ins,” is included below.  Because the number of participants was relatively small, this exercise did not generate any overwhelming conclusions, but the results do offer some interesting topics for further consideration and discussion.

  • A couple of the values that have been on the list included in our strategic plan scored high in this assessment:  integrity, collaboration, and respect.  Several others on the list received much less support from those who voted;  two, cooperation and lifelong learning, received no support at all.  But a note of clarification is in order here:  in the previous version, collaboration and cooperation were listed as a single item, but they were separated for this exercise.  Although collaboration was rated relatively high, cooperation earned no votes.  I’m not sure how to make sense of that disparity, but I am encouraged that collaboration is seen as important.
  • “Excellence,” standing alone, was rated relatively low, but the support was much stronger when the word included other descriptors.  In fact, “academic excellence,” “commitment to excellence,” and “conscientious pursuit of excellence” all received high ratings.  If the votes for those values related to excellence are added together, the total number of votes is nearly twice the next highest ranked value.  I believe an important result of this project is understanding the broad emphasis on excellence, in multiple forms, as a core value for the University.
  • “Responsibility,” which is on the list of values in SPSU’s strategic plan, only earned two votes – but “social responsibility” received seven votes.  I believe this speaks to a growing appreciation of the ways in which SPSU’s emphasis on “practical solutions to real-world problems” is seen as an important contribution that our students, faculty, and graduates make to society.   However, the value of “service” received no support in this exercise, and I’m not sure how to interpret that result.
  • Overall, the leading values identified in this effort are a commitment to pursuing excellence, integrity, collaboration, and respect.  However, 44 different values received at least one vote of support, so this list is neither unanimous nor conclusive.  The lack of consistent agreement also suggests that this topic merits further consideration.

The complete list follows.  All the values that were included in this process are listed below, in order of highest number of “votes” received.  The ones in bold were on the list that is part of SPSU’s current strategic plan.  Those in italics were added during the “voting” process.  And the ones that are underlined are part of the “Statement of Core Values” that the University System of Georgia has identified as applicable to every member of the USG community (http://www.usg.edu/audit/compliance/ethics).  In addition, the three words that are included on the university’s official seal (“Imagination, Innovation, Application”) are also noted below.


15:  Integrity

11:  Collaboration

9:  Academic excellence*

9:  Commitment to excellence*

8:  Respect

7:  Conscientious pursuit of excellence*

7:  Innovation (included on the University’s seal)

7:  Social responsibility

6:  Commitment to students

6:  Quality

5:  Community

5:  Diversity

5:  Engaged learning

5:  Service to others

4:  Accountability

4:  Alliances with the community

4:  Compassion

3:  Caring

3:  Evidence-based decision making

3:  Imagination --  (included on the University’s seal)

3:  Learning

3:  Sustainability

2:  Community, business, and academic relationships

2:  Continuous improvement

2:  Curiosity

2:  Equality

2:  Excellence*

2:  High Standards

2:  Inclusiveness

2:  Openness

2:  Student Success

1:  Application --  (included on the University’s seal)

1:  Connectivity

1:  Ethical community

1:  Giving

1:  Global

1:  Honesty

1:  Honor

1:  Humility

1:  Intellectual freedom that supports open inquiry

1:  Responsibility

1:  Search for truth, goodness, and beauty

1:  Stewardship

0:  Citizenship

0:  Conservation

0:  Cooperation

0:  Discovery

0:  Engagement

0:  Environmental Awareness

0:  Independence

0:  Inquiry

0:  Life-long learning

0:  Opportunity

0:  Personal growth

0:  Service

0:  Trustworthiness

0:  Well-rounded education

0:  Wisdom