Change is inevitable. Without it, progress may be stifled or limited. A regular review of what’s going on, even if it seems to be going well, is a proper way to lead an institution, a community or an individual life.

One example of review-based change is the Utah Legislature recently combining the State Board of Regents with the Utah System of Technical Colleges (UTECH) Board of Trustees.

The 18 members, representing astute minds in business, community and education, including one university student and one technical college student, began their official duties this July 1.

In an effort to create seamless pathways and make Utah’s higher education system more responsive to society’s ever-changing needs, the board is charged with overseeing a nimble world-class instruction and research system to which Utah’s eight public colleges and universities and eight technical colleges belong.

“While Weber State University and its partner technology colleges always have worked well together, this new consolidated governance structure provides even more opportunities for collaboration locally and statewide,” said Alan Hall, entrepreneurial leader and member of the new board. “I’m pleased to be a part of this effort.”

Nolan Karras, WSU’s Board of Trustees chair, enthusiastically agrees. “Working together is always the positive way for us to reach our goals,” he said.

It is important for all of us as citizens to understand leaders’ actions that impact our lives and to understand the objectives and agendas of those who seek leadership positions.

That is one reason why WSU’s administration wisely initiated the review-based change in the capacity of the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service by adding the position of academic director.

The new academic director is Dr. Leah Murray, known as a “rock star” professor on campus. She has been recognized with stellar honors, including as a Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor. She is a highly respected and energetic member of the faculty in the Department of Political Science & Philosophy.

As a leader in local and national coalitions to engage students and the community in responsible citizen dialogue, Dr. Murray is the perfect choice to lead the institute’s public service internships in local, state and national positions. One of her passions is to create an active, informed voting populace.

Her website includes a quotation from the legendary education philosopher and university chancellor Robert Hutchins: “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference and undernourishment.”

Dr. Murray is one example of the changes the Walker Institute is making to address political “undernourishment.”

Some of the upcoming opportunities for an engaged student body and interested public are a series of political debates, sponsored in cooperation with the Utah Debate Commission.

Local debates of greatest interest to our community include the Utah 1st Congressional District debate on Sept. 24, the Utah Gubernatorial debate on Sept. 29, the Utah 2nd Congressional District debate on Oct. 19, and the Utah Attorney General debate on Oct. 21.

Details of these and other pertinent events may be found on the Utah Debate Commission website.

In today’s polarized society, just as our institutions of higher learning have reviewed and acted to improve the way they serve us, it is imperative that we individually and introspectively review our personal ways of doing things. How might we improve in terms of responsible citizenship?

We should all be able to agree that while peaceful protests play an important role in democracy, violent protests and property destruction are not good answers. Vigilantism is not the way to counter protests. Defunding law enforcement is not a solution.

Healthy dialogue, empathy, listening to other points of view before pronouncing our own preconceived prejudices — these are constructive changes we can make in our personal lives.

Perhaps the words of author Carla Rueckert in “The Ra Contact” are helpful: “It is the love with which you do things that radiates; it is not the things that you do. The mission before each of you is simply to address all of that which comes to you with an open heart, just that.”

Each of us is our own CEO and board of trustees in terms of how we review ourselves, make constructive changes and practice citizenship.

Robert A. Hunter is director of the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service at Weber State University, where he also teaches leadership and political life. He may be contacted at: rhunter@weber.edu.

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