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Essential Partners Post-Visit Notes

Phase one: listening and learning

The Essential Partners team visited the McMinnville campus on December 8, 2021. Meg Griffiths and Raye Rawls attended in person, and Cara Cargill participated virtually. The program agenda is below. Our visit represented the initiation of Phase 1 of our proposal.

In order to understand the scope and nature of the felt needs within the community, we began with a phase of work that includes ways of listening and learning from individuals and small groups. Before beginning a series of listening interviews, we received access to all available documents, survey responses, notes from previous listening sessions, recommendations, or other relevant reports and documentation to help ground us in Linfield’s unique context and prevent us from duplicating work or repeating stuck processes and patterns, which can erode trust. The goal of our visit to Linfield was to begin the process of designing the listening and learning sessions, introduce ourselves to key stakeholders, and get an overview of the current situation.

Campus visit agenda


  • Build rapport/trust with the community by getting face time and introducing ourselves
  • Introduce people to EP as an organization and to our approach to these kinds of partnerships
  • Give people a sense of what to expect from the process, including the phases of work and anticipated timeline
  • Gather the planning team and get them oriented to their roles and the process
  • Honor the work of the Task Force and leverage their wisdom as they transition out of their current role in the process

Agenda at-a-glance:

  • 8 - 9 a.m.: Forward Together Task Force
  • 9 - 9:30 a.m.: University Cabinet
  • 1:30 - 3 p.m.: Planning Team
  • 3 - 4 p.m.: Open Session
  • 4 - 5 p.m.: Faculty Senate/Staff Council (Meg/Raye)
  • 4 - 5 p.m.: Virtual Open Session (Cara)

We begin by thanking each and every one of you who helped us organize the visit, attended to our needs, and those who participated in the sessions. Below you can find some summary notes and reflections of what we heard or noticed and some preliminary thoughts on how we hope to address what we heard and integrate your feedback into our process.

What we heard and noticed Our response and feedback
  • Deep passion and commitment to the university
  • Gratitude – this is not always a given.
  • There are some tensions regarding bringing in outside consultants. We heard both a sense of hope and excitement and skepticism and uncertainty, based on decisions already made and other past patterns.
  • Transparency, acknowledgment and normalization of these feelings. We will remain intentional in our efforts to demonstrate our openness, neutrality, and commitment to helping the university community achieve its goals.
  • Among many, trust has been significantly eroded.
  • Awareness that trust can build when people recognize what is being done and see which commitments are being kept.
  • There are tensions around a willingness to move forward vs. inability to see a way forward without accountability for past behaviors.
  • We will work with the planning team to address this issue throughout the process.
  • Concern about activities scheduled in January when faculty will not be as available
  • We will revisit the timeline to ensure scheduling doesn’t hinder participation.
  • Concern that the current makeup of the planning team is unbalanced (faculty vs. staff).
  • We discussed this at the Staff Council / Faculty Senate joint meeting on 12/8 and the Staff Council has recommended Bahram Refaei join the team.
  • People are very concerned as to whether all steps are being taken to ensure that all members of the university community who want to participate can participate in meaningful ways.
  • We will continue to clarify how people are invited into the process and are willing to renegotiate the number of participants, if the demand is higher than the current contract.
  • People expressed concerns about access to technology for some staff members.
  • We will work with the planning team to address this issue as we design the process.
  • People expressed concern about confidentiality and retaliation for speaking up.
  • We will work with the planning team to address this issue as we design the process.
  • Re: the question of whether we had access to the full picture of the Task Force’s work.
  • We have received all recordings, minutes, and topic areas/issues of concern.

Next steps:

We have a list of topics to discuss with the Planning Team as we develop our action plan and proceed with phase one.