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President Fram Virjee, California State University at Fullerton (CSUF), Joins Dr. Edna Chun's Capstone Seminar

In an inspiring guest lecture, President Fram Virjee, California State University at Fullerton (CSUF), shared his in-depth perspectives on change management in Dr. Edna Chun’s Capstone Seminar class. CSUF is the largest undergraduate university in California, #1 in graduate women and Latinx students, and #3 in the nation in graduating students of color. With more than 41,500 students and 5000 educators, Fram Virjee provides leadership in a complex organizational environment comparable to a medium-sized city. President Virjee drew on his rich experience in managing change in large organizations as president of a large, diverse campus; executive vice chancellor in the 23-campus CSU system; and partner in private practice for almost 30 years at O’Melveny & Myers, the oldest law firm in Los Angeles and one of the largest in the nation.

President Virjee introduced a number of key factors that can affect change in organizations including the size of the organization, its maturity, and the age of an organization. The size of the organization affects the change process since a larger, more diffuse organization will require organizational structures to ensure that management initiatives are not lost at the mid-management level. The age of an organization also affects the need for formalized structures that enable change. New and growing organization are most at risk since they may not have established expectations and traditions.

Further, President Virjee underscored the importance of mission statements as well as values in guiding organizational change and serving as the “connective tissue” in an organization. While earlier in his career, he had not recognized their importance, Virjee later recognized the ways in which mission statements and values can drive the change process.

Fram Virjee noted that successful change requires a number of concurrent elements. He shared the following factors in his talk and notes he shared with the class that are quoted here:

  1. Strong leaders to envision and initiate the change
  2. Well-defined goals and objectives by which to navigate the change and then measure its effectiveness
  3. Vetting and buy-in from all levels of the organization
  4. A willingness to go the distance
  5. Actively listening to what is being said by your constituents. This also requires listening to the silences.
  6. Constant assessment of who is at the table during these discussions and who is missing.

President Virjee concluded his comprehensive overview of effective change management by offering ten guiding rules that include “embrace success along the way;” “success is the teams; setbacks are yours;” “be in it for the long haul;” “be vulnerable and transparent;” and above all, “don’t take yourself too seriously, and always have fun!” We are tremendously grateful to President Fram Virjee for this invaluable, practical, and visionary discussion of change leadership and implementation in complex organizations.