Corrugated change, bubble wrap and masking tape

Painter's Tape

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Scarlett O’Hara once raged, “Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.”

I have one addition to Margaret Mitchell’s heroine’s list….


Right now our offices are full of corrugated boxes, banker boxes, bubble wrap and masking tape. Next week, we’re moving. You might call it change via hand truck.

Because a university by its very nature is a place where something is always changing, moving is sometimes required. It is the result of a constant and never ending quest to shape the environment for students, staff and faculty members into the best configuration to do the important work of education.

Our move is spurred in part by the addition to campus of the old Rockingham Memorial Hospital (the new North Campus) and by new efficiencies in some of the university’s computing systems. A university is — and always should be — a work in progress, so we are moving.

But moving is also a metaphor for Being the Change.

Moving requires assessing what’s important and what’s not.  We’ve been throwing away lots of accumulated papers and rethinking what really needs to move, what can stay behind and what can be eliminated. That’s the kind of assessment Be the Changers do when they start projects. They decide what’s really important in life — to themselves, to their friends — and so often to people they have never even met, at least not yet.  It’s an important and essential step to decide how these days and years of life, these assets and these talents are best used.

Moving also requires flexibility. Michelle Hite (’88) managing editor of Madison magazine and Bill Thompson, the art director, have managed to pull together the newest issue of the magazine amidst boxes and packing and flurries of emails about keys and copiers and masking tape. Moving the offices of 20 some people is quite a production, yet Michelle and Bill, with the able help of their equally flexible staffs, have managed to pull it off with their usual professionalism. Flexibility in the midst of change requires first an unfailing dedication. Be the Changers are not easily distracted from their missions. They bend, they flex, they move, but they always accomplish great things. In other words, they don’t allow the unimportant to distract them from getting the important accomplished.

Moving also requires thinking ahead to consider the future, and envisioning how to make it better.  As we all anticipate our new spaces, we look forward to using this change to better serve the communication needs of the university, the JMU community at large, and the broader community. Once again, it’s what Be the Changers do: they look forward to a better future. But most importantly, they find ways to make the future better.

Whether the location is Harrisonburg or Cambodia or Irag or Biloxi or Franklin, W.Va., change with the right vision, the right flexibility and the wisdom to assess what’s most important is the key to Being the Change. If you want a nice, slick example of all this, watch your mailboxes, your email or drop boxes around Harrisonburg early in May for the newest edition of Madison magazine.  It is full of examples of the kind of change that JMU does best.

PS….And if there’s no blog post here next Monday, it will be because my computer is in transit.


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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