View from Venus

2.1 - Strategic Service Work and Accreditation with Lisa Ijiri

Episode Summary

In this week's episode, guest expert Lisa Ijiri, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts joins us to talk about rejuvenating pink meetings and her experience working with accreditation. We wrap up with our best tips and advice for strategic service work and at the end we'll have an assignment for our listeners- we'll ask you to share your pink meeting story with us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and tag us @university_of_venus on IG and @UVenus on Twitter or post it on our Facebook page at and we will share, retweet, and amplify! Find University of Venus on Instagram @university_of_venus , Twitter @UVenus , and Facebook

Episode Notes

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

Resources Discussed in this Episode:

Music Credits: Magic by Six Umbrellas

Sound Engineer: Ernesto Valencia

Episode Transcription

View from Venus, Season 2, Episode 1

Mary Churchill: [00:00:00] Hello everyone, and welcome to Season Two of the View from Venus. My name is Mary Churchill, and on today's episode, I am joined by cohosts Meg Palladino and Leanne Doherty and guest expert Lisa Ijiri. Vice Provost at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In today's episode, we'll be talking with Lisa about pink meetings and her experience working with our regional accrediting body.

[00:00:28] You will walk away with our best tips and advice for strategic service work, and as always, at the end of the episode, we'll have a recommended assignment for you. Lisa Ijiri is Vice Provost for Academic Affairs  at Lesley University, where she also serves as Lesley's Accreditation Liaison Officer providing organizational leadership on matters of accreditation.

[00:00:49] We asked Lisa to join us on the View from Venus because we wanted to hear more about how to get strategic with service work. Welcome. It's great to have you on View from Venus 

[00:01:01] Lisa Ijiri: [00:01:01] Awesome to be here. 

[00:01:03] Mary Churchill: [00:01:03] Excited about this conversation, And Meg's going to start us off 

[00:01:07] Lisa Ijiri: [00:01:07] You're feigning interest in accreditation. I love it. That's great.

[00:01:11] Mary Churchill: [00:01:11] It's interest in you, Lisa, interest in you!

[00:01:16] Meg Palladino: [00:01:16] So Lisa, we like to start with kind of a pop question to get warmed up. So, today's question is, if you could eliminate one thing from your daily routine, what would it be and why? 

[00:01:29] Lisa Ijiri: [00:01:29] Eliminate something? Well, I just started adding, going to the gym, so I'm not going to eliminate that although that was a big hurdle to get over to add that. But if know what? It has to be the commute, the drive. And so, anybody who's driving anywhere in Boston knows, it's just gotten 10 times worse in the last four years. So, I had my own little work around where I'm doing more remote work, and I've actually dropped my hours to own the new grandma status that I have.

[00:02:01] So, that's my way of cutting back, eliminating the drive, right? How about you guys? 

[00:02:09] Leanne Doherty: [00:02:09] I would eliminate showering. I find it incredibly overrated. It makes my skin hurt. Mary don't laugh at that. 

[00:02:18] Mary Churchill: [00:02:18] It's winter. I mean, winter in Boston. Nobody wants to shower, 

[00:02:23] Lisa Ijiri: [00:02:23] Especially when it's, your hair gets frozen and then they're going to get in the car with your frozen here.

[00:02:27] Leanne Doherty: [00:02:27] You know, and I speak from years of experience. The summer's not kind to my skin. The winter's not kind to my skin.

[00:02:36] Lisa Ijiri: [00:02:36] That week in fall and spring though. 

[00:02:39] Leanne Doherty: [00:02:39] Oh, it's perfect. I've got about a week and a half. But I know folks find it luxurious. I find it time consuming and the commute for sure, but you already took that, Lisa. 

[00:02:48] Lisa Ijiri: [00:02:48] I did. I went first. Alright. 

[00:02:51] Mary Churchill: [00:02:51] Mine. I hate flossing.

[00:02:58] Leanne Doherty: [00:02:58] Good girl, you do it anyway. 

[00:03:00] Mary Churchill: [00:03:00] I do it, but I hate it! If I could somehow...and every time I go to the dentist, I'm like, have you found a better way to get what you want out of flossing? Is there like some magic solution to flossing? And they're like, no. And I'm like, do you have a better floss? Because I hate the floss. I've tried so many, I hate it.

[00:03:16] I hate it so much. But if I could just magically not have to floss, that would raise my joy in life. 

[00:03:25] Okay, Meg? 

[00:03:26] Meg Palladino: [00:03:26] Mine is cooking, I have not found the joy of cooking. You know, I do know the joy of eating, but I find it just a tedious chore that I do every day. I just want the food to magically appear. 

[00:03:42] Mary Churchill: [00:03:42] You just want it to appear.

[00:03:43] Meg Palladino: [00:03:43] I just want to eat it. 

[00:03:43] Mary Churchill: [00:03:43] I hear you. That's kind of like the commute, right? Click your heels and you're there so you don't have to actually do it. Snap your fingers and the food is ready. 

[00:03:55] Okay. So, let's get into the questions. Lisa, you were the first one who introduced me to this concept of pink meetings, which I love - meetings that leave me energized rather than drained.

[00:04:07] Can you tell our listeners why this is important and how it relates to being strategic about when you say yes to a new project or committee assignment?

[00:04:15] Lisa Ijiri: [00:04:15] I can. I should explain to folks what the pink meetings mean, right? So, in the early days of Outlook calendaring, I think when it started the pop that you could color code your calendars and so forth.

[00:04:27] I was reading this book, it was called The Progress Principle, and it talked about the fact that work satisfaction, it was actually from this researcher's work tied to this very little thing. If during the day something had resulted in some forward progress  - and it didn't have to be big progress - , I think that's what was so interesting about it.

[00:04:46] It was just if something in their day seemed to move things forward and usually then when she dug underneath it, it was someone in their day had been either a nurturing influence or a catalyzing influence in some way, in that sense of forward progress, that that then resulted in high level of work satisfaction for that day.

[00:05:05] And then conversely, if there had been somebody who had been an inhibitor of forward progress or somebody who was experienced as toxic, that that was this negative influence. And so, you started thinking about, oh, actually, if I look at my calendar, is that going to be an inhibiting or a toxic kind of a meeting or a day, and should I color code that in my Outlook calendar so that that's like a green or a negative, or I don't know what color is negative, but maybe then the positive one is a pink one and then we just try to make sure your, throughout your week as you're looking at what you're going to experience, where can I experience enough pink?

[00:05:40] And Mary and I got together, and we were chatting about it and we realized this is a pink meeting. We need to make sure we spend time and it hit me because that was another takeaway that the ACE Women's Network had was hosting events about networking and about how to be really strategic and intentional about building that time into your calendar.

[00:06:02] And actually that I think ended up being what I sit with more as what I think of when I think of the pink meeting. Because in many ways you can't really control your in-community calendar that much to make sure you're experiencing time with catalyzing positive people. To some extent you can. Well, you have to be really strategic about those, making sure you're building in time to go out and network to make sure you're reaching out to people at other institutions and doing that networking conversation and the lunch and the rejuvenating, let's connect and let's network.

[00:06:33] And so. So now for me, the pink meetings mean the networking meetings, the meetings that I'm going to make sure I go out of my way to put a pink meeting on my calendar where it's connect with someone at another institution that I know it's going to be energizing. So, go out listeners and go do your own pink meetings.

[00:06:50] Mary Churchill: [00:06:50] I love that. I have coded networking as pink as well. Yeah. Very cool.

[00:06:57] Leanne Doherty: [00:06:57] I think you alluded to the fact that some of our meetings can't be pink, right? And some of our meetings are always going to be green, right? Whatever that is. You know, for me, I'm back on the faculty now in a capacity where I was in an administrative role before, and I'm now on committees when I used to be the administrator in those meetings, and now I'm in faculty.

[00:07:19] So you're a Vice Provost, you work with faculty and staff and administration and the students and everything. And that's something that's come up for me in conversations with folks, is about how do you even do committee assignments? How do you find the right place for you? How do you balance that all and so what do you tell faculty when they're considering what's a good committee assignment?

[00:07:42] How could we make it? What’s pink and green? Maybe like a pink and green meeting or something like that? 

[00:07:48] Lisa Ijiri: [00:07:48] That's a great question. And I think when faculty are kind of weighing their choices about what to sign on for, they almost always ask about, well, what's the time commitment? And then, you know, how many meetings and, and what, what's the nature of the work? That, everybody asks about that.

[00:08:02] But not everybody thinks to ask, who else is going to be on it, quite frankly. And what do they know about the person who's leading the meeting, right? So, those two things can make a huge difference. And of course, the nature of the work itself matters. But I would argue that when it's an institutional committee that's taking you outside of your comfort zone, it's not, you know, let's assume that you're being asked to do something that's not from your discipline, but rather you're representing faculty in some way.

[00:08:30] Those are usually the ones where people are scratching their head going, should I say yes to this or is that going to take me away from my research? And I would strongly encourage you to kind of weigh, is this going to help build my network outside of my own home department in a way that is going to be energizing down the road? Right? So, and I would also encourage folks not to be dismissive about membership based on reputation. So if somebody has a reputation for being kind of tough to work with or challenging, you know, make your own call about that, I think that it is a chance to be able to build your network in a way that could be really helpful and energizing down the road. So, ask about that. 

[00:09:09] Leanne Doherty: [00:09:09] When you talk about getting outside your comfort zone, I was chair of a NECHE standard committee this year. Standard Four. Academic Programs. But I got to meet our new registrar, which was wonderful, you know, to see how she works and members of our library staff that I haven't seen in years, right? So, I really value that idea of thinking it doesn't necessarily have to be Faculty Senate, right? You know, you can think about other committee assignments that have value that, I mean, this is really important, but I was struck with how many folks I still don't know, right? After being somewhere for quite an extended period of time and working with them in a different capacity.

[00:09:53] So that’s would echo that.

[00:09:54] Lisa Ijiri: [00:09:54] Poster child reason why you should join. 

[00:09:56] Leanne Doherty: [00:09:56] Well, there you go. I tried my best. I like to please people. and that's what, you know, I like to have. That goes along with it, but I feel, but I do find it was true. 

[00:10:05] Meg Palladino: [00:10:05] So Lisa, you've worked extensively with our regional accrediting body here in New England, formerly NEASC, and now NECHE, and work on accreditation seems to be strategic. So how did you get started doing this work and would you recommend other people in higher ed, you know, get involved and find a way to do this work and how and why? What are the advantages? 

[00:10:24] Lisa Ijiri: [00:10:24] Well, so Leanne is, you know, poster child for why it's a great idea to say yes when you get tapped to be part of that.

[00:10:31] And I got involved early in my career pretty much the way Leanne did as a faculty member. I was asked to co-chair a standard and at that time it was physical facilities, which at  NECHE now is part of institutional resources, but physical facilities. And I was partnered up with the chief financial officer.

[00:10:48] And it was pretty early in my career and I was honestly a little bit annoyed because I felt like I couldn't say no. I didn't want to be involved in accreditation. I thought it was going to be boring. And I pictured probably what a lot of people picture, which is, you know, there's some kind of compliance sheet.

[00:11:04] And I go around like the health inspector and kind of decide, you know, do they get a C or a B? And I was pleasantly surprised by that particular experience. You know, in truth, the work was not that onerous. It was, you know, four or five pages of narrative, and most of us as faculty were pretty good writers anyway, so that part of it came naturally.

[00:11:23] And it was an inquiry process. It was, you ask some questions, you look at what the requirements are and you just write it up and I didn't realize at the time that that would start kind of what's turned into a 20 year career of really not just being involved in, but leading accreditations.

[00:11:40] I've actually gone on over a dozen team visits and actually been the chair of the full process at my current institution and very involved in my last one. So my 2 cents on the takeaways and why I would recommend for faculty to get involved is, is actually exactly what Leanne said, is that it takes you a level up in knowing people at your institution and making connections that you would not have done otherwise.

[00:12:06] And it does though in a very, what's the word I'm looking for?  It is kind of higher ed at its best, where it is...The accreditation process in higher ed is peer review. It's about writing up your story so that others at peer institutions will look at your story and give you feedback about it, and it's not a gotcha.

[00:12:25] It's not, Oh, you guys are failing at this. It really is that collaborative. People who go on visits are people like me who are interested in other institutions, who want to learn about how other places are grappling with some of the same difficulties that we are and what have they learned and how can we inform one another?

[00:12:44] And then it's also, it's a high stakes for the institution. It's something that matters, right? And so, people are very invested in doing it well. So, you see colleagues at their best. You see people who, like you just said, you just worked with the registrar for the first time, and we've got high quality registrars on our campuses, right?

[00:13:02] And so for faculty to interact with folks that they don't normally interact with and see them really with the kinds of things that they can contribute, I think that's a great benefit. It's also, particularly in New England, but elsewhere, is now very data-driven in a way that is, you're able to be both reflective of the past, but also to put a stake in the ground in helping develop that collective narrative of what is, directionally, a way that the institution could be going forward that would be beneficial? And you feel part of a larger process at developing that collective narratives. So, for all those reasons, those are, you know, those are real perks to being involved with it. As far as how-to kind of put your hand up and get involved, the first thing you'd want to do if you're hearing this and kind of going, well, I never thought about it, but maybe I should look into it.

[00:13:55] Find out where your institution is on the cycle. So, is it getting ready? When did it last you a ten year? When did it last do a five year? And probably somebody in the provost's office will have knowledge of who is likely to be leading the process next time. So, inquire with the provost office who's likely to be organizing that effort and then just put your hand up and say, you know, I heard you might be building the team., I'd be interested in serving. Maybe if you don't want to co-chair a committee your first time out, if you just want to serve on a standards committee, that's a way of kind of getting your feet wet on it, take it from there. 

[00:14:29] Leanne Doherty: [00:14:29] I, again, I'm struck with how much I enjoyed it and I feel like over 19 years of doing everything but an accreditation something or other, I was struck with how much I enjoyed that work and then as a follow-up to that is the external aspect, right? And so how do you find your network growing because of the external work you that you do through an accreditation process? 

[00:14:54] Lisa Ijiri: [00:14:54] So that's level b, if you will, or I don't know that next level. So, once you get involved, and actually sometimes as a result of being a committee chair, it's often recommended that you participate in a team visit yourself.

[00:15:08] So Leanne, have you done a team visit?

[00:15:10]Leanne Doherty: [00:15:10] I haven't. This is exciting. 

[00:15:12] Lisa Ijiri: [00:15:12] If you liked it, that should be the next thing that you do, right? So it's a great way to prepare for your own team visit is to have been part of a visit at someone else's institution and NECHE does a great job of doing training so that you feel prepared when you go and that you can give feedback in a way that's most helpful to the institution.

[00:15:30] And so once you get involved...So there are actually two ways that the external piece can be really rejuvenating. One is even if you don't leave your campus and you've only been involved in your own self study, by being part of that, you'll interact with the visiting team and sitting around the room and usually they'll interview folks in a team to hear others talk about what you've done, whether it's for educational effectiveness or for learning outcomes assessment, and to hear your story told to an external audience, you really feel validated.

[00:16:01] Like, wow, I had actually forgotten that we had made so much forward progress. And then the networking of meeting others that are team members who come and visit, of course, you always make connections that then will go forward in the future. If you go the next step and you then serve on a team, which as I mentioned, I've done over 12 of them.

[00:16:20] You don't need to do that, but even just one or two. The team, to describe it, usually has between seven or nine folks if it's a comprehensive visit. Always led by a president. There's almost always a chief financial officer on it. So, in many ways it mirrors what a senior leadership team might look like.

[00:16:37] You would be on it probably to do academic programs. So, there's always some academics. There may be some folks who have worked in student affairs, but it's always a nice mix. But as I say, it's always led by a president. And so, you get a chance of, within this two and a half day, very intense working experience, to work very closely with a senior leader from another institution.  And the connections I've made through those visits are ones that have continued through to this day. So, folks that I reach out to, if there's a topic on my campus that I'm interested in getting other perspectives on, when I'm looking to fill a position and I know who might be networked, I reach out to those folks.

[00:17:16] It's a very easy way of doing some strategic socializing really. So, Leanne, I think you should absolutely put your name up for that. The NECHE folks will love it. 

[00:17:27] Leanne Doherty: [00:17:27] Ok, done. Great podcast, everybody. See you later. Next step for my career. Thanks, Mary. 

[00:17:34] Mary Churchill: [00:17:34] Hey, any time! I would also say I was shocked at how wonderful the annual conference is, right?

[00:17:43] Again, I was like, oh, accreditation dry, but the NEASC, now NECHE, conference is every December, and it is in Boston, luckily for the Boston people. It is amazing because people from kind of director on up to president from the whole region are there. And so, it's phenomenal regional networking. And the topics are great.

[00:18:08] And Tara Westover was one of the keynotes. Ta-Nehisi was one of the keynotes, I think last year. It was just, it's really, really fantastic. So again, I was...had the bad attitude about it, but it switched. And I was, when I was at Salem State, I was on an accreditation team internally. It was great. I even think that doing them for professional associations like are, are also really good because you start to know your programs really well.

[00:18:34] And I think, I really liked what you said, Lisa, about telling the story because it's true. When you have to tell the story to an external audience and then hear it back, you're like, you feel like, wow, we actually do really good things. Because you get out of that day to day. So that's lovely. 

[00:18:50] So, we're almost out of time.

[00:18:52] So we like to wrap up with kind of what are the key takeaways? And for this, the topic of strategic service work is the overarching theme. And for me, I think a key takeaway from something that came up in our conversation was don't avoid a committee or a task force just because you've heard bad things about a person who's on that group.

[00:19:14] Because I have found throughout my life that I get along with people who have that label "difficult." They end up being some of my favorite people. And so, I learn so much from them. So, I think that is a, I think it's important to keep that in mind. So that's my key takeaway. Don't avoid it just because someone has a reputation of being difficult to work with.

[00:19:36] Meg Palladino: [00:19:36] I think I want to spend some time thinking about this pink meeting thing and the green meetings and really more strategically make some pink meetings in my life.

[00:19:44] Leanne Doherty: [00:19:44] I just like the idea of asking people outside of institutions. I think sometimes I forget there are other people that do this work or maybe frustrated or maybe excited, right?

[00:19:53] And, often that we all work in academia because we like to talk and think and think and talk, right? 

[00:20:00] Mary Churchill: [00:20:00] Excellent. Lisa, anything else you want to add? 

[00:20:02] Lisa Ijiri: [00:20:02] Nice. No, you guys are reminding me that I should use my own and take my own advice because I have not had some out of my campus pink meetings in a while, so that's all.

[00:20:13] Mary Churchill: [00:20:13] So thank you for joining us. This has been really fun and a great way to start the new year. 

[00:20:19] Okay. Listeners, here's this week's assignment. Share your pink meeting story with us on IG, Twitter, or Facebook, and tag us at @UVenus and we'll retweet, share in our story and post on Facebook. As always, thanks for joining us.

[00:20:33] We'll be back next week with Karen Costa talking about building online networks.