It’s been a whirlwind month full of ACPA travels and meetings. I had two opportunities to meet with colleagues outside the U.S. – first, with Greg Roberts, representing ACPA at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services in Toronto, and then attending our CTLPA (Caribbean Tertiary Level CPA) conference with fellow Governing Board member Kathleen Kerr in St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. I was struck by both how similar and different student issues and student affairs are in these places that are relatively close to “the States.” In both Canada and the Caribbean region folks talked about how professionalization and helping others see our work as more than simply providing necessary services. Hearing the Honorable Fazal Karim, Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago give the opening keynote at the CTLPA was absolutely inspirational. The Minister spoke about the critical role that student affairs plays in promoting student learning and, ultimately, advancing society. I couldn’t help but think how incredible it would be for a U.S. secretary-level official to speak about the importance of student affairs at one of our conventions – can you imagine it?!
And then there were the conversations about student issues – engaging students in international study experiences, addressing mental health-related concerns, working with “the good, the bad and the ugly” of technology, fostering inclusion and responding to acts of intolerance, best practices in assessing student learning. Sound familiar? The issues and needs of students, and the great research that’s being conducted about students’ experiences and development, cross boundaries and miles.
After returning to the U.S., I got to visit Louisville, Kentucky, site of our 2012 convention, to meet with the convention planning team and for our annual Summer Leadership Meeting. What a great week that was! We had healthy, open, challenging and inspiring conversations about ACPA’s strategic goals, collaboration within and beyond the association, ACPA’s role in outreach and advocacy, and future meeting plans. We also used the time with this outstanding group of leaders to “beta test” the visioning sessions that I talked about in a recent e-card video to our members. I can’t wait to roll the process out for our full membership next month!
Finally, during my first full week back on campus Cornell College hosted the Student Social Justice Training Institute (SJTI). We had 47 students from 26 institutions around the U.S. visiting our campus in Eastern Iowa and learning about themselves, the dynamics of oppression and inclusion, and about how to make their campuses and communities (and maybe even our world) more inclusive and socially just. Somehow that seems like the perfect end to this month, because isn’t that why we’re doing this work in the first place – to help our students learn about themselves and the world, and grow in ways that will help them take that learning back into the world? As I said in my e-card, we really do great, and important, work!