Friday, May 3, 2013

Catalysts for Change!

I want to thank Adam Ortiz and the other leaders from MRN and CMA who took time to talk with me, Kathy Obear, Chris Moody, and Eleanor Mower earlier this week about their concerns (  ACPA is an organization that truly values social justice and strives to be inclusive in all ways, and it is incredibly helpful to have members and leaders willing to share with us and problem solve with us when we can do better. How we ask our members about themselves via surveys and assessment instruments is one area where we can do better.  I appreciate that the leadership of MRN and CMA are catalysts for change.  This change will result in our Association being stronger, and our policies and practices being more aligned with our espoused values.

The activity of revising how we ask member demographic questions has been underway since June of 2011, but is still not complete. Identifying a standard set of questions is incredibly challenging as we do not believe one “best” practice exists.  We have and continue to review standards from other Associations, campuses, and even federal and state guidelines.  That being said, the ACPA Governing Board is committed to completing this work in the coming months, so that going forward we are in agreement about how to best ask these questions of our diverse membership.

Specifically, here are the “next steps” we will take:

·         The subcommittee working on the standard questions document will continue to collect input from Association leaders and entity groups (May-June)

·         A final document will be brought before the Governing Board for review and approval

·         Once approved:

o   A senior staff member in the ACPA International Office will be identified to review all centrally distributed surveys and assessment instruments to make sure that they consistently adhere to the approved standards.

o   Other Association leaders, International Office staff members, and Convention Planning Team members will be made aware of the adopted standards and expectations for their use.

o   ACPA membership will be informed of the adopted standard questions, including the importance, value, and context of this work via an article in Developments.

o   Entity groups that distribute surveys independent of the International Office will be provided with the standard questions, applicable contexts, and their rationale.


Again thanks to the leaders of the MRN for helping us move forward with this very important work!



Monday, April 22, 2013

Springtime in Delaware

Spring has sprung in Delaware, USA.  I realize some of you may not be in a part of the world that experiences a spring season like we have here in the Mid-Atlantic United States, and I am sorry.  The beauty of the trees, literally dripping with flowers, is always a breathtaking site. On my campus, the University of Delaware, spring (April and May) also corresponds with the ending of another academic year, which we celebrate with Commencement.  It is an ending celebrated with an event that means “the beginning.”  So the symbolic rebirth that spring brings corresponds nicely with our collegiate “beginning” as we send our graduates off to begin the rest of their lives – be that careers, graduate programs, world travel, etc. Often it is sad to see many of them leave but it is a sweet sadness, knowing that we have played a role in their accomplishments and hopefully made their path at the University a bit more engaging, educational, inspiring, and at the right times, a bit smoother.

As I watch our graduates head off to what is next for them, spring inspires me to think about what’s next for me.  The coming academic year is within sight and I begin planning both personally and professionally.  Of course, ACPA plays a big part in that.  We know from our membership survey that most members highly value the professional development opportunities offered by ACPA.  As an Association we work hard to make these opportunities diverse, affordable, accessible, and relevant.  Most are directly related to the professional competencies and are planned by experts in our field who are committed to engaging experiences that allow participants to both learn and network with other colleagues.

I hope you will take some time to visit the ACPA calendar of events, and consider how we might help you enhance your April, May or June. 

Dr. Kathleen G. Kerr

ACPA President

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thinking About Boston...

Hello good ACPA Colleagues,

I had intended to write a post about the end of the academic year and spring in the Mind-Atlantic USA, but given recent events I must instead post a note about Boston and the tragedy that occurred on Monday, April 15th at the Boston Marathon.  My thoughts and condolences go out to the families who lost loved ones.  I can only imagine the pain and struggle that is now being faced by the injured and their loved ones and families.  The impact of Monday’s events is wide-reaching; in fact it spans the globe.  We learned yesterday that one of the deceased was a Boston University graduate student from China.  Many, many colleges and Universities in the New England area have been and will continue to feel the reverberations of this tragedy.  My thoughts are with colleagues at those schools as they work with their students to try to understand, and to comprehend what occurred and begin the process of moving forward and healing. 

I’ll save my thoughts about spring for another day.

Dr. Kathleen G. Kerr
ACPA President

Monday, March 18, 2013

We are Granite, We are Wise, We are ACPA!

Hello. I have just returned from the ACPA Convention in Las Vegas where I assumed the ACPA Presidency at the Annual Businesss Meeting, held on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.  I was graciously introduced by my supervisor at the University of Delaware, Dawn Thompson, who serves as our Dean of Students and Associate Vice President.  I then offered my Presidential Address, which seems to be an appropriate first blog post.  It certainly represents my hopes and dreams for our Associtaion, not just for the year, but for the next decade.  Please be in touch! You can email me at and follow me on twitter at @KathleenKerr and @acpaprez


2013 ACPA Presidential Address:

Thank you Dawn. I am very appreciative of the support Dawn, and our Vice President, Michael Gilbert have offered to me.  I also must offer thanks to my incredibly  talented colleagues in Residence Life at the University of Delaware, especially my leadership team, that keeps things going while I am traveling (actually, they keep things going even when I’m there), Jim Tweedy, Michele Michelon Kane, Ivet Ziegelbauer Tweedy, and Joe Hazelton.

I've learned a lot this year, serving as ACPA Vice President.  I was determined to learn the Association's history, study our current state of being, and ponder what is next for us.  Today, I will share with you some of my insights about our past, our present, and our future.

Along the way though, I also learned that in WI, you serve milk with every meal; in MN there is no cold weather, just bad clothing choices; in NC, you’ll find an airport with the best rocking chairs; and in NJ, the innovative spirit is alive and well.  I learned that wifi on a plane is a godsend and parenting by text message can be quite effective.  I also learned that Hawiian sunsets can only be matched by Hawiian sunrises, and it is worth the early hours and good for the soul to make sure you are sitting on the edge of the ocean to see as many sunsets and sunrises as you possibly can.  Wisdom.

I'll never forget when I was in my second year of graduate school at Indiana University, I was talking to my father about my impending job search.  At the time, he was the Dean of Students at Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ (yes, I am one of the few people who has a parent who has understood for my entire career what I do for a living).  He offered me three pieces of advice:

1st, never forget your foundational training in counseling and use it in every setting possible;

2nd, remember there are more than two sides to every story, more like 5 or 6 sides; and

3rd, pick your battles wisely and decide first if it's a penny fight, a nickle fight, a dime fight, or if it's worth a quarter.  Advice shared with me by a man who was mentored by Betty Greenleaf and Bob Shaffer (two student affairs pioneers). Those words have served me well for almost a quarter of a century. Wisdom.

When I was in grade school, my father took me with him to hear a campus speaker, Isaac Asimov, a famous science fiction writer.  I was a big fan of that genre at the time.  Right before we left the house for the talk, I burned my hand on the stove.  It was red and painful the entire evening, but after the talk, I still wanted to go with my father to the front of the auditorium to meet the author.  Upon being introduced he very graciously held out his hand to shake mine.  I clumsily responded by offering him my left hand, shyly apologizing and explaining that I had burned my right one. Quickly he replied, "Go home and place your burned hand on a metal pan.  Metal conducts electricity and your hand will feel better." Now I have no idea if there is a lick of medical or scientific truth to that, but I went home and tried it, in fact I slept with my hand on a pan all night, and it did seem to make it feel better.  Wisdom.

Isaac Asimov once said, "The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom." 

ACPA has created and disseminated much knowledge since its inception. In fact, in 2014, ACPA will be 90 years old.  ACPA – College Student Educators International grew out of interest by collegiate placement officers, then called appointment secretaries, at a meeting held in 1923 with the National Association of Women Deans, under the umbrella of the National Education Association. One year later, in Chicago, in 1924, the National Association of Appointment Officers was formed with nine members and May Cheney as President.

Membership grew rapidly, and in 1931 the organization changed its name to the American College Personnel Association, with two primary goals:
·         supporting the various functional areas within student affairs; and
·         the career and professional development of membership - emphasizing cooperation, research and service.

ACPA was instrumental in working with other professional Associations to create the American Personnel and Guidance Association (now the American Counseling Association), of which we were division #1 from 1952-1991, when ACPA members voted to disaffiliate.

Many outstanding leaders have lead ACPA through significant change – Association name changes, governance restructuring, changes in staffing models, office location changes, and more. Yet for 90 years, we have been an Association consistently grounded by and committed to our core values:
·         Education and development of the total student
·         Diversity, multicultural competence and human dignity
·         Inclusiveness in and access to association-wide involvement and decision-making
·         Free and open exchange of ideas in a context of mutual respect
·         Advancement and dissemination of knowledge relevant to college students and their learning
·         Continuous professional development, and
·         Outreach, advocacy and leadership in higher education.

90 years. There is no way for me to briefly, and accurately summarize all that ACPA has contributed to students, student affairs, and higher education in that time.

Our first Journal was published in1943, initially the Journal for Educational and Psychological Measurement; replaced by the Personnel and Guidance Journal, which after two name changes, in 1988 became, the Journal of College Student Development, now recognized as the premier journal of the profession. We will celebrate the 55th anniversary of JCSD in 2014.

Our Association’s practitioner magazine, About Campus was first published in 1996, and has become as renowned as the Journal. 

Another significant publication for the profession, the Student Learning Imperative was also published in 1996.

In 2002, ACPA was recognized and invited to become a member of the Higher Education Secretariat, a consortium of over fifty higher education organizations that meets monthly to share ideas and influence Congressional action in Washington, D. C.   We are leaders in the Higher education arena!

In 2003, we added the tagline “College student educators international” – to reflect our commitment to a global understanding and service to international membership; we have also seen tremendous growth of state divisions and of course Commissions.

In 2004 Learning Reconsidered: A Campus-Wide Focus on the Student Experience, was published.

In 2005, the Governance Task Force recommended a new Governance structure, which was implemented in 2007.

The Assessment Skills and Knowledge (ASK) Standards were published in 2007 and the Professional Competencies in 2010.

And we continue be a strong Association. The 2012 Membership survey indicates that 93% of our members are either very or moderately satisfied with their ACPA membership.  96% are highly or moderately likely to recommend membership in ACPA to other higher education colleagues.  These are satisfaction numbers of which we should certainly be proud!

And the survey also tells us that we are meeting or exceeding most members’ expectations as we:
·         offer essential resources,
·         provide applicable research and scholarship,
·         provide a voice to the field of student affairs in higher education,
·         offer high quality educational programs,
·         involve members, respond to their needs, and
·         support them in their job search.

Despite these accomplishments, we must not allow ourselves to be complacent. 90 years old, for anyone and for any organization, is something to celebrate.  It offers us a chance to stop and look back, to reflect on accomplishments and contributions, but perhaps more importantly it calls for an examination of what lies ahead.

As we turn 90, we must look forward. David Starr Jordan, an educator, peace activist, and past President of my alma mater, Indiana University, once said, "Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it." So we need to ask ourselves some very important questions: What will we accomplish before we turn 100?  How will be leaders in higher education in the 21st century? How are we determined to distinguish ourselves? How will we make thoughtful and intentional choices to move forward in ways that allow us to be both knowledgeable in our old age, and virtuous?  Wisdom.

Let me be clear.  The responsibility to articulate a vision for our future does not rest in my hands. As I was thinking about our future, I spent a lot of time thinking about the ACPA 2013 to 2016 Strategic Plan, approved by the Governing Board in September.  It resonates with the voices of our members, with your voice.  Authored by the Governing Board and International Office staff, but only after we hosted dozens of meet ups, we collected input via the membership survey, and we spoke with past ACPA Presidents. The Strategic Plan was then vetted by our assembly and entity group leaders, and modified once again. It reflects this Association’s current collective wisdom.

The six strategic priority areas reflected in it will sound familiar to you:
·    Career Development
·    Professional Development
·    Leadership in Higher Education
·    Social Justice
·    Research & Scholarship, and
·    Association Performance and Excellence

They are familiar because they are foundational to who we have been, who we are, and who we will continue to be.  They are strategic because within the plan we have articulated goals and strategies that are innovative, brave, and exciting.  These steps will expand and enhance the strength of the Association, help us to better meet member needs & better serve students on our campuses.

Some work is already underway. 

This winter, the ACPA Innovation Advocate selected Innovation Team members and together they have identified the first recipients of ACPA Innovation Grants, intended to support projects that are innovative, improve the effectiveness of ACPA, and support its strategic goals and objectives.

At this convention, we have launched the ACPA Involvement Team (ITeam) to increase member involvement in the Association.

We have launched a Policy Advocacy Task Force to quarterly review salient issues in higher education and student affairs, and identify strategies for ACPA policy advocacy and leadership.

Hopefully many of you have had or will have the opportunity to participate in conversations here in Las Vegas about the progress of the Credentialing Implementation Team. This group is preparing to launch a pilot Registry that allows participants to monitor and reflect upon their professional development and will decide next steps for this project in the coming months.

The ACPA Sustainability Advisory Committee has been revitalized and will promote and support sustainability education and sustainable policies and practices throughout the entire Association.

Utilizing technology, we have expanded a mentorship program in which relationships are formed via hashtag SA Grow and focus on professional and career enhancement.

But there is much more that we must do. 
·         We must find better ways to connect with our international colleagues and be better prepared to serve the international students on our own campuses.   
·         In light of the increasing challenges many of us face on our campuses around student mental health issues and certainly in light of the national debate around gun control and mental health, we must provide leadership and education to our members in this area and we will utilize this year’s ACPA Think Tank to do so.
·         Before we are reacting to it, we must consider the implications of what has become the omnipresent opportunity for online learning.
·         We must reinvent our annual convention and other professional development offerings so that they are educationally inspiring, energizing, and distinct.  We will offer you that in Indianapolis in 2014. For those of you in the Mid-Atlantic Region, I invite you to join us for an institute we are calling “ACPA Vision Day 2013,” which will take place on the University of Delaware’s campus in October, at which we will explore issues of leadership and innovation in higher education in the 21st century.
·         We must create vital, accessible, and affordable professional development opportunities connected to our professional competencies for all levels of experience and articulate pathways for member professional and career enhancement.
·         Faculty are a critical constituency within the association both as professionals with substantial knowledge and skills to contribute in the areas of research and scholarship and as mentors to the next generation of student affairs professionals.  We must continue to find exciting ways to engage and support our faculty colleagues.
·         We must partner with other Associations in order to enhance the professional development options for our members and to broaden our leadership platform.

We must do these things, and we will do these things, not because these are my Presidential initiatives, they are not.  We will do them because our 90 years have brought us to a place where we understand their importance, and we understand our obligation and ability to lead. And, amazingly, my father’s advice from 23 year’s ago applies to us as an Association as much as it did to me in graduate school. We must move forward remembering our foundation; we must remember to always consider multiple perspectives and we must choose our battles wisely.  Our new strategic plan does this. Wisdom.

As George Bernard Shaw said, "We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future."

It is fitting that 90 is the granite anniversary.  Granite: solid, valuable, beautiful.  But we must not confuse our solid foundation, with rigidity, staleness, or an inability to be nimble or innovative.  In fact, having a solid foundation, knowing our core values; that we are committed to research and scholarship, professional development, social justice, equity, and inclusion; member involvement; career development; and quality member services and experiences – this allows us a sort of freedom. It allows us to reinvent ourselves on top of that foundation. Reinvent our convention; reinvent our professional development; reinvent our place in higher education. 

The strategic plan is just this. It is a call for innovation, built on top of a granite foundation.  Its implementation with your support, will allow us to distinguish ourselves as the premier comprehensive international association with much to offer all college or university colleague who works with students in and outside of the classroom. An association that leads the discourse and action in higher and tertiary education related to the learning and development of college students, our members, and their institutions.

There is a poem about the freedom that comes with age, "Warning," by Jenny Joseph.  It starts like this, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.  And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves. And satin sandals..."

This poem is about the confidence that comes from knowing who you are and your place in the world. Knowing what to care about, what to attend to, and what to leave behind. It's about wisdom. 90 years old. This is our opportunity to wear more purple.  To innovate and to reinvent ourselves.  We are granite, we are wise, we are ACPA.

Thank you.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Moving on, Moving forward

I’m packing my suitcases to head to the ACPA Annual Convention in Las Vegas.  I’m a bit misty because when I return home after the convention, I will no longer be ACPA President.   While I am excited to be able to devote more time to my family and campus responsibilities, I will miss much about serving the profession and association that I love.

Fortunately, I have learned much in my Presidential year that will carry me forward.

I know how much people around the world – from California to China; to Canada and Jamaica – value ACPA and need what it has to offer them as professionals and their students.

I know that ACPA members value collaboration – at all levels – since opening ourselves up to partnerships with others helps us help our students.  Stand alone individualism does not work in today’s society; just look at Congress.

I know that our profession’s future is bright and that ACPA has the innovative ideas found no place else to equip student affairs and higher education leaders to advance their careers and success of their students.

Finally, I know that my contributions don’t need to stop just because I leave office.  I know I still have much to give, and will find ways to continue offer leadership to the profession.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.  It has been one of the highest honors I know I will have throughout my career.

Keith Humphrey
ACPA President, 2012-2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Now, I get it

We’ve all sent an email to our Vice President and not received a response…sometimes for days…or weeks.  Count me in this category.  I would wonder….what did I say?  Is she mad at me?  Did I suggest something stupid?

Well, today was day five of me being a Vice President and if you are one of those 500+ folks that are waiting for a response from me…..well, sorry.  Read this first and you will get it.

I get it now.

In the 40 hours that made up my first week as a VP, 37 of them were spent in meetings.  And that doesn’t count the evening activities I attended to become acquainted with my new community.

Hardly leaves any time to eat a proper lunch or go to the bathroom, let alone reply to the steady stream of email that requires my attention.  And I have hardly been on facebook at all this week! 

In the time that I was not at meetings or activities, I was catching up with my kids so that they don’t resent me when they are 18, washing dishes, making school lunches and taking care of the dogs.  Regular people things. 

So, I apologize if I have not returned your email this week.  I don’t hate you, you didn’t say something stupid.  I was just really busy.

 Dr. Keith Humphrey
ACPA President, 2012-2013