Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A crisis of leadership for Student Affairs

A few days ago I tweeted from my @acpaprez account that there was much student affairs leaders could learn from the ongoing challenges at the University of Virginia. While the details of the current situation are still unfolding and it is likely that none of us will ever know the full story, I want to encourage ACPA members to study the situation and find the lessons that are applicable to student affairs.

I see many: campus relationships with governing boards, advancing your own pedagogical agenda in concert with others’ agendas, leadership in times of change, and the evolving nature of the higher education system. Last time I checked, these were all student affairs issues. One of the most interesting facets of the situation is that very little discussion has taken place about the impact of these high level decisions on the student. This may be the most salient issue for our community. As the higher education system transforms and evolves there will be more high profile “crises” like these. Student affairs leaders have the responsibility to ensure that our relationship and community building skills are maximized in times like these for the benefit of the student experience.

The student experience was the primary focus of the agenda as ACPA leaders represented our membership in Canada and the Caribbean at student affairs conferences in June. ACPA is proud of its long-standing relationship with CACUSS – the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services and CTLPA – the Caribbean Tertiary Level Personnel Association. Executive Director Gregory Roberts and I traveled together to CACUSS where we were hosted by President Chris McGrath and I logged more air miles on behalf of ACPA members and our international agenda traveling to CTLPA in Jamaica. Past President Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr. and University of Louisville Professor Michael Cuyjet were also in Jamaica to add to the rich discussions about how we support our students.

These travels bring me to just over 50,000 miles this year on behalf of ACPA. While it has been a pleasure, I need a break! I am headed out of town with my family for a technology free (and Tucson temperature free!) vacation in Montana next week – so I apologize if you reach out to me and I do not respond immediately. I hope you are taking a break too. My Provost reminded me yesterday that the summer is more than 1/3 over on our campus. Students are returning soon – take care of yourself so that you can be ready to support them no matter what crisis comes your way.

Dr. Keith Humphrey 
ACPA President 

 Follow Keith on Twitter at @acpaprez

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