Monday, April 27, 2009

From Your ACPA President: ACPA as a Leader of our Global Profession
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

The past month has been a very rewarding and active 30 days. ACPA is involved and active in so many things – all of them clearly impact our large membership in many unique ways. In this “mail call” I hope to talk about some of ACPA’s international interests and our efforts to advance our global profession while partnering with other countries and associations to improve campus environments for our students.

ACPA has a responsibility to our students across the globe. As the profession’s leader, it isn’t just about the members or those working and residing in the United States. ACPA’s work is also critical to the success of our students outside of our borders. ACPA has institutional members from 27 different counties. These range from China to the Middle East, from South Africa to the Caribbean. Each of these countries brings a unique perspective to the association, yet so subtly, similar challenges on one’s campus. In many respects this speaks to the similarity of our students across the globe.

As a global leader it is ACPA’s expectation that we simply not reach out to countries to build membership. This is a very shallow and disingenuous approach that does little to serve the global profession. It is more the expectation of ACPA that we reach out to partner, to collaborate, to inspire and to learn from other countries. In our global efforts ACPA (like other associations) has learned that we do not always have the answer. In fact, many times the answers rest in the challenges (and solutions) that other countries have used. Take for example Housing and Residence Life. Taiwan and Hong Kong have very elaborate structures that house college students. While they may not have the depth of theoretical foundation that often comes with decades worth of scholarly research in student development, they do have simplicity – they are safe, feel like home, and are conducive to learning. They are every bit as well built, if not better built than many residence facilities on our colleges’ campuses today. Some also have incorporated “green” technologies or enable students to monitor or pay for utility usage in a manner some of our students in the United States could only wish to do. Some of these residence structures have used technology and engineering many in the U.S. would not have the resources to even try. Imagine building a residence hall on the side of a hill/mountain. Imagine, because space is such a premium, putting a full recreational soccer field with bleachers on top of the structure. Just imagine the engineering and creativity that went into a project of that magnitude.

ACPA will continue to work with our many friends across the globe to assist in developing country specific research and implementation strategies to best serve students. ACPA also will work to better improve the international environment on our respective campuses to become a place that feels safe and open to the influx of international students now attending our campuses. This is your ACPA and this is part of our value system. It truly is very interconnected. Weeeeee!

(Above photo taken overlooking Taipei, Taiwan from the academic/student services building at Lung Hwa University. Pictured are Dr. Jackson, Dr. Juing-Huei Su (Dean of Students), and his student affairs staff.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So What Does Tom and the Executive Director Really Talk About?
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

I have never been all that interested in the actual inner-workings of ACPA until I was actually "elected" as VP and knew I had to become a quick study. Do not get me wrong - I always knew things and took an interest in some items more than others, but the actual inner-workings; well, I just didn't need to know it all as a volunteer for what I was doing. Just like on our campuses, there is simply more happening than one truly needs to know. And, quite frankly, knowing more on campus hasn't particularly made me a better VPSA at times. As a VPSA I could never know everything, I just need to know you might know what I need to know at this particular moment. Is any of this making any sense?

As your President I get information from way too many places. Sometimes some of it makes sense. Many times I can be just as confused as other leaders. Most times I am interested and sometimes I simply know that this piece of information, while VERY important to someone, is not something I need to know at this particular moment. An example is often when something gets to me too soon, or it is something that really requires a decision by someone else in the leadership - a chair, state president, someone other than me. It may also be an item that needs Assembly discussion before Governing Board discussion -- stuff like that. It really isn't too different than what we deal with on campus.

Having said all of this, I acknowledge that my need to know may be lower than your need to tell me. So I am telling you things assuming your need to know may be greater than it needs to be. Smile. This is all good.

So when the ACPA President meets with the ACPA Executive Director, what do they talk about? We talk about many things - things often from our lists of action or discussion items we accumulate over the weeks. This isn't too different than your standard 1:1 you have with your staff or supervisor.

Some topics from my list are below. Please try not to "read into" the topics and please know I won't do this every week. Somethings are simply what they are - nothing more or nothing less. I share them with you and if you have any comment or are more curious about any of them - email me. Take care. Weeeeee!

1. Affiliations with other associations
2. International and Cultural Tour agendas
3. Placement
4. Corporate relations.
5. Upcoming Governing Board meetings.
6. Budget
7. Foundation
8. Association Committees

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mail Call – Message #1 from Your ACPA President
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

ACPA is hot right now. What a fantastic convention we had in Washington, D.C.

Allow me to thank each of you for not only being a member of ACPA, but also taking an active role in our shared profession. A long time ago a mentor of mine encouraged me to be active in our professional associations. His point was that we, as professional’s, must give back to this profession. Whether it is doing presentations, writing, serving on committees or some other activity is very important. It is what professional’s do. You shouldn’t have to think about giving to your profession – you just do it.

I learned a lot from that mentor – who today remains my dearest friend. This, in part, is why I need your help. It is one of my goals, as your ACPA President, to communicate with you in a way that not only informs you of current issues within ACPA and the profession, but also uses the technology available to us today. Currently the means to communicate to the membership are the regular articles in our different publications. I hope to explore several methods, including Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. Using my blog I hope gives you further insight into why certain decisions get made or how I may be approaching an issue that the association must address. My hope is you will see the many perspectives and ramifications that are often involved in the many different things that the President and ACPA must address.

Think about it for just a moment. ACPA has 20 commissions/task forces, 6 standing committees, 33 state associations, and 24 different countries that are members of ACPA. ACPA has roughly 8,200 members, all with a voice and an expectation. It is impossible to touch each person, but each President tries in some way. I am no exception. Your help in guiding me and participating in the association makes things much easier. I encourage you to follow me on Twitter, join me on my public chats, and actively shape our global profession. Below is a summary of my efforts to reach out to you.

Twitter: acpaprez (the goal is 500 followers – win a prize!)
Facebook: American College Personnel Association
Skype: Monthly public chat the 2nd Friday of EVERY month at 11:00 a.m. EST.

In the coming days I will share with you more insights on the items we are currently addressing as an association. If you seek greater involvement – we can find ways to get you even more involved. In fact, next time you speak to a colleague have them join ACPA, too. ACPA, in many respects, is not that different than your campus employer. We are facing budget challenges, seeking ways to collaborate more easily with our sister associations, trying to improve and retain membership, and trying to advance our work across the globe. We have assumed the leadership role in trying to bring associations together to enhance our global profession. This includes identifying opportunities to enhance student development research abroad while assisting with professional development. We are also looking at ways to better utilize technology in our very popular and successful Placement Services. If you can imagine improvements you can bet we are thinking or talking about them now.

Your membership matters to me and ACPA. ACPA is an association that is progressive, responsive to trends, viable, and one that I hope provides you the type of information and opportunity to learn and improve your campus environment. After all, it is about students. Take care.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Guest Blog - Importance of States to Our Association

Ever talk with an ACPA State Leader? After a few minutes in conversation with them, you soon realize that they can make any state event a reality regardless of the roadblocks in front of them. Take for instance the current economy. It hasn’t stopped New York CSPA from offering a $250 research grant to its membership, or prevented Wisconsin CPA from eliminating membership fees by working them into conference fees and tripling membership, or stopped Minnesota from funding 9 graduate student scholarships!

Despite the many challenges state divisions face; namely recruiting and retaining volunteer boards, operating on very low membership dues, retaining graduate student members whose job search takes them out of the state; ACPA state divisions provide the highest quality and most accessible professional development for our association members. They are small but mighty and nimble enough to respond quickly to changes in member needs and economic shifts.

Throughout our Convention 2009 experience, state and international division leaders invited Governing Board leadership, Convention Planning Teams, and task force representatives to its meetings. Every single one of those representatives served as state division presidents sometime during their ACPA journey. The divisions provide a foundational training-ground for ACPA leadership and offer every level of student affairs professional a unique and intimate leadership experience. The opportunity to present at state division conferences, to conduct research as part of a case study competition or grant-supported research, and to experience transformative leadership….state divisions of ACPA are phenomenal!

I remember my first foray into a state division of ACPA. I was working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Development at The University of Akron in 1987 and a colleague, Brian Brietholz invited me to go travel to Ohio University for a conference planning committee meeting. I had no idea what I might be in for, but I had about 5 hours of drive time to consider what I might contribute. We arrive and are greeted by the friendliest group of student affairs professionals anyone could meet. Regardless of the fact that I had very little experience with conference planning, a task was delegated to me. My job? Choose the conference gift (or as I like to call them, chotskies). Well I did (and boy did I think those printed four sided highlighters were da’bomb!). But, that was all it took for me to be hooked. A highlighter!

It doesn’t take a whole lot to introduce young professionals to ACPA. Connect them with your state association and watch their professional lives be transformed into rewarding lifelong careers.

One highlighter later, I find myself serving this valuable association as Coordinator of State Divisions. I am honored, not by the title, but by the opportunity to step in and out of the lives of the state division leaders as they create, innovate and communicate to provide their membership (ACPA’s membership) at every level of their professional journey with every type of learning opportunity a student affairs professional could ask for.

ACPA States Create, Innovate & Communicate!

Submitted by Dr. Sandra Emerick, Coordinator of State Divisions
Cleveland State University