CALCULATED RISKS CHALLENGE STATUS QUO
Earlier this month Purdue President Mitch Daniels released his annual Open Letter to the People of Purdue focusing on the theme of “calculated risk.” The letter featured, among the University’s calculated risks, the Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s learning transformation efforts. More prominently featured in the letter is the launching of the Purdue Polytechnic High School in Indianapolis, which will be followed by additional high schools near the other Polytechnic locations throughout the state.
There is no doubt both ventures involve risk. But there is bigger risk in keeping the status quo. As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk ... In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
We are very much in the middle of a transformational process that challenges the status quo. We are creating a learning environment that is better aligned for the digital age. By using our industrial age experiences in teaching and learning as a foundation and then adding in elements that prepare students for the digital age, our risks are calculated with measures of reflection and control. We are not cliff jumping and merely hoping the parachute will open.
We can learn from our flight program in the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology. Every day our instructors and students fly a heavier-than-air tube with stationary wings, a great example of calculated risk. Sometimes we forget, too, that one of the primary reasons for faculty tenure is to encourage the taking of calculated risks in an effort to question the status quo while not fearing for our jobs. Our foundation allows us to take these calculated risks and feel confident that doing so will allow us and our students to be more successful.
Similarly, our faculty members who serve the on the Purdue University Senate are critical to the college’s success. I want to recognize the important work they do representing the college. Current Polytechnic faculty senators are Kirk Alter, Bill Hutzel, Todd Kelley, Julie Mariga, Helen McNally, Jamie Mohler, Carlos Morales, and Mark Thom.
Gary R. Bertoline is dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.