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Northwestern Community Gathers to Share Best Practices

Collaboration and innovation stressed at daylong event to share ideas and network

  • Chinniah: Northwestern’s excellence depends on administrative and professional staff
  • Rodriguez: technology is a focus in innovative collaboration and courses across University
  • 12 breakout sessions highlighted practical solutions to everyday problems
  • Attendees urged to think outside the box

CHICAGO --- Continual collaboration and innovation are key to the success of a premier research and teaching institution such as Northwestern University, according to Northwestern University School of Law Dean Daniel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez delivered the keynote address at Northwestern’s eighth annual Best Practices Forum last month on the University’s Chicago Campus. Professionals from across the University came together to share successful and practical examples of process, people and technological solutions to issues Northwestern employees face on a daily basis.

“We are in a competitive landscape in higher education,” said Executive Vice President Nim Chinniah. “Faculty, students and staff expect an environment that enables them to thrive.”

“We can differentiate ourselves not just through our academic eminence but also through our administrative processes and professional staff,” he said. “The Best Practices Forum is a great venue to share ideas and to learn from each other in our journey to make Northwestern even stronger.”

Co-sponsored by Chinniah and Provost Daniel Linzer, the event was organized by the Office of Change Management.

Northwestern already does a great job of collaborating and innovating, Rodriguez said in his keynote address, citing the law school’s strategic initiative to integrate law, business and technology in its curriculum. Rodriguez also talked about NUVention courses that bring together students, faculty and resources from four different schools (McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Kellogg School of Management, Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern University School of Law).

The NUvention program is designed to expose students to the entire innovation and entrepreneurial life cycle and to help them understand how innovation can be viable in the real world. Administered through the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation, the program is Northwestern's most concerted effort to bring the world of startups to the classroom.

Continually building upon such innovative thinking and teaching is critical to the University’s success, Rodriguez stressed.

The event also included breakout sessions in which faculty and staffed offered presentations about what they’ve learned about best practices in a variety of different areas.

“The forum brings people together across different units to spend the day thinking about how we do our business and if we could do it differently,” Linzer said. “It is really about taking the time to come out of a cubbyhole and explore issues from a different perspective. It may change the way you see it.”

At the end of the day, Linzer gave the presenters certificates of appreciation.

“After all, sharing and challenging ideas is fundamentally what a university is all about,” he said.

Sessions included:

  • Project Management Tips and Tools -- Real Ideas to Use Tomorrow
  • Reaching Out Further -- Building Bridges to Support Students
  • Large Research Team Management and Support -- A Mobile Suite for the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center
  • Contract Management -- How Kellogg and University Partners Created a Solution for a Business Process Problem
  • Transforming the Faculty Selection Process for More Efficient and Better Informed Decisions
  • How Kellogg School Used Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Increase Traffic and How You Can, Too
  • Sustaining Partnerships Between Universities and Community Groups -- A Look at the Science Club Initiative
  • Research Subcontract Process Improvement Pilot Units, Systems and Efficiencies
  • Time Well Spent -- Synthesizing Programmatic and Financial Information for Decision Making
  • Beyond the Blackboard -- Providing Academic Support in Non-Academic Spaces
  • Collaboration in Action Through the Global and Research Opportunities Database
  • SESP Program Planner -- An Online Tool for Course Planning and Enrollment Forecasting
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