Parking Lots to Moving Ideas

One strategy to use when a meeting generates more ideas than can be addressed within the context of the immediate agenda is to create a “parking lot” to corral those good ideas that—while tangential to the discussion at hand—may be worth addressing at a later time.

The Syracuse University Middle States Accreditation Working Teams used this parking lot technique as they analyzed the evidence to determine how we are in compliance with each of the standards to capture ideas for improvement across the University.

More than 50 ideas were generated through the self-study process this fall. Some were directly relevant to Middle States criteria, but some were just good ideas we don’t want to lose, so they went into the parking lot. This week, the Steering Committee discussed those ideas and came up with the following initial themes.

  • Increased formal engagement with University Senate
  • Continued improvements in information management and websites
  • Enhanced University communications through strategy and compliance
  • Continued updating of policies and procedures
  • Continued implementation of University-wide assessment
  • Continued development of University advising and student support
  • Continued refinement and introduction of Syracuse University 4+4 institutional-wide learning outcomes
  • Continued alignment of University budgeting

Several members of the Senate are members of the Steering Committee and participated in the working groups. In the coming months, the Steering Committee co-chairs will be sharing the ideas with the University Senate and with academic and administrative units.

One of the primary goals of this Middle States self-study process is to create momentum to make improvements. As we continue to refine and clarify the draft of the self-study, we hope the University community will begin to engage with these ideas of improvement.

In March, the University Senate will review the self-study draft. On April 18, the University community will engage in a Middle States Campus Conversation where we can learn about what we are doing well and how we are trying improve. We hope members of the University community will give us more ideas and share how their respective programs and units are making improvements.

Through these working groups, committees, the University Senate, the Campus Conversation, and individuals, we are using peer review to reflect on how we are meeting the University mission and gaining momentum to make Syracuse an even better place to be.

Rochelle Ford,