Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Watch and Learn
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA Vice President 2008-09

Greetings! I was happy to read the comments from my colleague and friend Gerome Stephens and would echo the amazing experience I had at the recent ACPA Summer Leadership Meeting (SLM). While he commented on the affective components of the trip I will comment on some of my logistical observations and reflections. First an introduction – I am Michael D. Anthony, and currently serve as Interim Director of the University of Louisville's new Cultural Center. I too am assisting Dr. Jackson in his "tri-presidency" with ACPA (VP, President, Past-President), and am honored to do so. I am happy to share my thoughts, insights, ah-ha's and learnings through this experience in hopes that the most we can all learn from this journey. I am also a PhD student here at U of L, part-time of course, and unlike Gerome have been quite involved with ACPA throughout my four years in the field. I currently serve as Past-President of the Kentucky state division of ACPA, known as CPAK.

SLM brought together nearly 100 passionate student affairs faculty and practitioners, most of whom are volunteers, to discuss the work of ACPA. This is no simple task, and Dr. Patty Perillo and her team at Davidson College in Davidson, NC should be proud to have pulled off a very successful event. The Association's Governing Board and International Office staff put in a full day on Wednesday July 9th, modeling the hard work they expect of the rest of the assembly leadership. On Thursday the rest of the team arrived and immediately got to work. There was a good balance of work and play throughout the weekend, which I appreciated very much. The work of the leadership continued through Saturday and closed with another half day of work for the Governing Board and International Staff on Sunday July 13th. The most powerful take-away from this meeting of the leadership of our Association was that collaboration and talking across "silos" is critical. Of course most of us already know that, but to see it in action is a beautiful thing. As I sit here at yet another conference/meeting - this time on the West Coast, reflecting on my experiences a few weeks ago, I'm re-energized by the example I saw at Davidson. I am also hopeful of the future of our profession with organizations like ACPA working hard to support and educate our faculty and practitioners.

I titled this post watch and learn because I did a lot of that at the SLM. As a rising professional anxious to contribute to the work we're doing at every opportunity; it was an exercise in patience and humility to sit back and just listen, watch and learn. I was intentional about challenging my need to be heard and my need to contribute verbally. By doing something different, and stepping out of my place of comfort, I positioned myself to learn in a very unique way; to observe and take in all of the information, concepts and ideas; and then to process this experience in ways I could not have imagined. I am happy to be a part of Dr. Jackson's team, and know that he invites all who read this to be a part of the business of improving our profession. The door is open, and the invitation is made. Until next time...

The first post of many from Gerome... This I Believe

I should introduce myself because I am not Dr. Tom Jackson. Don’t be alarmed; I have been asked to blog along side him through his experience as ACPA vice president and, in the near future, president. I am currently a PhD student at the University of Louisville working in the Office of Student Leadership. I will be Dr. Jackson’s ACPA intern and look forward to the experience.

I am new to ACPA, but being in higher education as a profession for the past 5 years have some basic knowledge of the organization. I recently expanded that knowledge as I attended the 2008 Summer Leadership Meeting held on the beautiful campus of Davidson College in North Carolina. It was an amazing and intense four days. I met many very motivated and distinguished professionals. I consider myself very lucky to have been in the presence of these individuals, each working to expand and continue the mission of ACPA.

Now, more than a week after my experience I recognize that I left with a great deal of knowledge of the organization and new professional contacts. We all have those moments during a meeting, conference, or workshop that we know is going to stick with us more deeply than others. These moments are unfortunately all too rare. I had one of these experiences at the end of the first full day of the workshop. Patty Perillo, the current ACPA president, presented her take on the NPR initiative “This I Believe.” I will not soon forget it. She titled her session ACPA Believes. Her remarks reminded us that any organization is only as strong as its volunteers and members. She took it one step further and challenged each of us to know what we believe. Being sure (or at least well aware) of yourself translates into your work. We all know this idea. Being moved by her presentation and interactions with the group I ordered the book, This I Believe, on when I made it back to my room that night.

This past Saturday I read almost half of the personal philosophies in the book. Each of which was not over 500 words and met the heart of the writer. I am now challenged to continue reading and develop my personal philosophy. I would encourage you to find a copy of this text. I have not recently been so moved by words. This is probably because I am a doctoral student and read statistics textbooks and research. You know where I am coming from. This is the one you need to pick-up. It applies to all of us and will hopefully connect with your mind and heart as it has with mine. Check back in soon for progress on my personal philosophy and more about my experience with ACPA.

E. Gerome Stephens
University of Louisville