As an ultrasound professional and educator, I have performed hundreds of ultrasound examinations on pregnant women. I have been fortunate to see the happiness and joy on the faces of parents when I show them two- and three-dimensional images of their sons or daughters in the womb. As I evaluate the baby, I have always hoped to convey the good news to the parents that their baby is healthy. I have also observed many routine and uneventful deliveries and births during my professional career.
On Feb. 16, 2011, the delivery room was well prepared, organized and ready for the arrival of a newborn. The room was silent and bright. All involved were relaxed and working in synchrony. The movements were smooth, coordinated and well thought out. Somehow, my feeling was somewhat different compared to my previous experiences. Suddenly, the silence of the room was broken by a “cry” which has awoken me from my bewilderment. It was the newborn’s first gasp of air and the first sign of life. Immediately, the chief obstetrician turned to the parents and asked if they chose a name and the reply was affirmative. It was “CRIS.”
Soon after, and due to unexpected circumstances, CRIS was placed for adoption. The news was surprising and shocking. Regardless, I felt the spread of the adoption news was not an ordinary one. I felt it was a need for an urgent response to this problem. I could not sleep that night. I stayed awake thinking about it until dawn. I kept asking myself, “Should I adopt CRIS?” I have had to make hard decisions before but this was the first time I was confronted with such a unique decision. I knew adopting CRIS would be a major commitment and it would bring with it many socioeconomic and psychosocial challenges. Thinking of these challenges never derailed my thoughts and stopped me from considering CRIS’ welfare, well-being, survival, health, education, social and economic outcomes, reputation and “fit” within the society. As a responsible human being and my belief that we all should be active participants in our communities, I felt adopting CRIS was a must.
Since the birth and adoption of CRIS, it feels that CRIS has brought a change and introduced something new. Definitely, CRIS has renewed something that existed in me. Indeed, CRIS made me think of things differently, made me make decisions differently, made me think “outside the box” and make choices outside the norm. Undoubtedly, adopting CRIS has demanded the embodiment, coordination and/or synthesis of new rules, policies, ideas, values, discipline, behavior and styles. Certainly adopting CRIS in this era would demand that I become INNOVATIVE.
Looking into the shiny and serious-looking eyes of CRIS, I have seen a future leader. Despite the controversy, which exists regarding whether leaders are born or developed, I believed CRIS needed to be nurtured and taught. I know that CRIS needs many years of hard work to develop the required leadership skills. Surly, adopting CRIS would require effective coaching ad mentoring. It would require me to generate new ideas and act on them. I thought to myself, adopting CRIS in this time and era and preparing him to be a leader would demand that I become CREATIVE.
I know that CRIS will ask about his biological parents and family history. Indeed, I asked myself, how much do I know about “CRIS”? I only know what my memory tells me from the initial birthday in that delivery room. Perhaps my memory is not that great but I will compensate it by research. I will dig into letters, public archives, conduct interviews or speak to individuals who may know about the biological family of CRIS. I will use my research skills to reconstruct for CRIS the much-needed family history or genealogical past. Suffice it to say, adopting CRIS would require a lot of time, money and research to vigorously conduct, learn, collect and gather information about this newborn’s biological family. I thought to myself, adopting CRIS in this time and era would demand that I become a RESEARCHER.
Certainly, I said to myself, my passion is teaching and why would I waste my important time investigating and searching for answers? At first, I scoffed at the idea, but as I overcame my fear of the unknown, selfishness and time constraints, I became convinced that integrating and linking my investigation skills and teaching would satisfy my curiosity about discovering why this newborn was abandoned and also help inspire, stimulate, benefit and enrich CRIS’ life and education. Clearly, adopting CRIS would require me to learn and be able to transmit my collected information to CRIS in a precise and undisruptive way. Perhaps, I thought to myself, adopting CRIS would demand that I become a SCHOLAR.
In spite of all of these challenges, the benefits of adopting CRIS far outweighed the risks in my mind and it was worth taking. I must admit that my sensitivity, ethics, sympathy, belief in others, and softness of my heart have eased my decision to adopt CRIS as well. I believe the benefits of adopting CRIS have dwarfed any challenges and costs in my eyes. I thought if I wanted to capture the benefits to our community and society, I must take the adoption of CRIS seriously.
At this point, you might be wondering what CRIS is. Certainly, CRIS is not a human newborn. It is a strategic initiative in its infancy, if you will. It stands for Creativity, Research, Innovation and Scholarship—an acronym used by Provost Jeremy Haefner in a February town hall meeting with faculty and staff.
CRIS, the strategic initiative, is of critical importance to the survival, advancement and competitiveness of the university. Higher education institutions are confronted with an increasing number of internal and external expectations, challenges and demands such as accountability, global competitiveness, access, affordability, dependency on non-traditional sources of funding, outcomes, budget deficits, quality, efficiency and much more. Indeed, universities are being challenged as never before.
Faculty and staff have an important role to play in the development and ongoing success of the university. We must be active participants in shaping the common good. We must be committed to the creation and dissemination of knowledge. We must be committed to collaborate, integrate research and scholarship with teaching, support student learning through creativity and innovation, be creative and self-improve, adapt to changes, and address big questions and problems.
As we strive to move the university to the next level, achieve our strategic goals and fulfill our obligation to the country and the world, we—faculty and staff—must explore, discover and implement CRIS in our practices. I am very convinced that CRIS—if not all, then perhaps segments of it—lie inside every one of us!
For more information about CRIS, download a presentation, “Creativity, Research, Innovation, and Scholarship,” by Provost Jeremy Haefner, at www.rit.edu/provost/media/CRIS_v1-2.pptx.
Hamad Ghazle is director and professor of diagnostic medical sonography. “Viewpoints” presents insight and opinions on issues of relevance to RIT or higher education generally. To suggest a topic for a future essay, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.