Janet Houser

Now that we’re into implementing the University's strategic plan, how important is this in moving forward?

It’s essential. The strategic plan was based on a structure that will make us successful. We need projects that will engage the community and tactics that ensure our future. The structural changes we’ve made are to make us more nimble in the market and attractive to donors. These are all critical pieces that we have to do.

What is your vision for the future of Regis?

My goal is that in five or 10 years from now we’ll see ourselves elevated as a university of stature — a jewel in the Jesuit crown. We will have a strong base of applicants that will enable us to be selective in who we educate. I envision we will be a diverse organization that has an international presence on campus and has a culture that is warm and welcoming. I can describe the characteristics of it. I can see that pretty clearly. I think within five years we’ll know if our restructuring was successful. Then it will be time for another strategic plan.

Diversity remains an important issue on campus. How do you plan to address this?

A great deal of focus, as there should be, has been on compositional diversity. It’s "do we have a diverse faculty, administration and student body?" That is necessary but not sufficient for what we have to do. A long-term goal is establishing a place that reflects the general population. A second goal, which is even more important, is that the whole point of having diversity on campus is to produce graduates who can function in a diverse and increasingly global world. If one looks at that as the overarching goal, then we can focus on things we can do right away. We can have a scholarly agenda that is focused on diversity. We can add cultural intelligence into every class in some way. If we think of it being a curricular issue rather than a compositional issue, we can start dealing with it right away.

How do you see faculty governance playing a role?

I think we’re going to have to discover a structure that strengthens faculty governance and control over the elements of an education that should be under their control: curriculum and advising, for example. We need a structure for our governance that enable us to give those things to the faculty and let them run with it. I also think we need the ability to be transparent in the way we make decisions at the administrative level. There is a combination of shared governance and transparency that need to be characteristic of our future.

In your opinion how has the transition gone from from three to five colleges?

We’re in the beginning of making that work. We have to make decisions about how students go from one college to another and how our faculty interact with each other. How do we get consistency in such things as rank and promotion? These are all issues we have to address and I think it’s too early to know if this structure is successful or not. In two or three years, we’ll have to stop and say "did we go too far or not far enough? Did it work?"

What do you see as your biggest challenge in the next year?

I just need to get to know the whole University. I have managed the College for Professional Studies before it was disaggregated and Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions so I’ve gotten a good taste. I need to understand the philosophy and the practice in each of the areas that will be under my leadership. This will be a learning year. That said, I probably won’t get much of a honeymoon. I’m anticipating I’ll be constantly incorporating feedback into my practice. I need to figure out how the whole university functions on the academic side, and what things might need to be changed or strengthened. That will be the next year.

Conversely, what are some of the things you are most looking forward to?

I have a lot I’m looking forward to. I don’t have a singular issue that’s first on my plate. I do have an overarching issue that is to take the helm of a steady ship and keep it moving to becoming one of the most prestigious universities in the Jesuit network. I’d love for people to mention us in the same breath as Fordham, Loyola and Gonzaga. We can do this. That’s what I’m holding out as my single most compelling vision. We also need to deal with change. It’s making sure we have all the procedures and structures in place for all the change we’ve had.

One word to describe you, what would it be?

Balanced. I have a good life, a job a love and I’m in a golden period. Usually you only know the golden times in retrospect. You say "wow, that was a good time in life." I’m in the middle of one and I know it. I have a wonderful spouse and a great group of friends whom I see regularly. I have a rewarding job, doing meaningful work in a place that supports my values. It’s gold right now. I know it and I’m going to enjoy it.