My commitment to the UPCEA members

About 24 hours ago I had the honor of addressing the members of UPCEA as the incoming president.  I sit here now 24 hours later and continue to be amazed and thankful for the trust you’ve given me.

Yesterday was a near blur beginning at 7:15 am with the annual meeting and ending last night with annual banquet; the day was wonderful.

In my address to the membership I outlined a number of themes and noted some measures that we will be using to move UPCEA from a good to REMARKABLE association.  I am posting this to Shaeffer’s Forays for two reasons, to share it with those who were unable to join us and for this serve as my reminder of the commitment I’ve made to the UPCEA membership.

Thank you for this opportunity.


Shaeffer UPCEA Speech

I am first and foremost humbled that you have entrusted me in this leadership position in our Association.  As I look around this room, it is filled with many people who have greater knowledge and skills than I to be successful in this role.  I am humbled by your trust.

I am also honored to follow the outstanding leadership of Dr. Judy Ashcroft, who provided visionary leadership during a time of change and led the search for our new CEO Dr. Robert Hansen.   In the past year, Judy and Bob have done an excellent job of maintaining the association’s momentum and built upon the many strengths of the association.  Many thanks to both of them.

We are in a time of great change, both within our association and within our larger field of professional and continuing education. Higher education is facing pressures, challenges, and of course opportunities that are entirely new to us. Addressing these challenges is both an opportunity to lead and a call to action, and I am committed to helping our organization and our field seize these opportunities. Now is the opportune moment for UPCEA to serve in a leadership role as all of higher education attempts to respond to the challenges that we face.

As we think about the priorities of our Association in the coming year, I believe that we need to focus our efforts towards making UPCEA the pre-eminent association for continuing and professional educators. We need to stake our territory, define and establish our boundaries, and then reach across those boundaries to collaborate with other associations that can help all of us become stronger, more effective, and more responsive to the needs of our members. As an association we need to provide value, leadership, and opportunities.

In the coming year our Association will go through a strategic planning process that will help us to better understand the relative position of UPCEA as an association, to help us better understand our  strengths and weaknesses as an association, and this strategic planning process will provide clear direction in terms of the initiatives we will pursue.

In  developing the priorities for the coming year, I want to be clear that I do not see these  priorities as Shaeffer’s priorties; rather these priorities build on the work of the leaders who preceded me, and have been developed in conversations with Bob Hansen as the CEO and Tom Gibbons as the president-elect of our association.

As you may know, nearly a year ago I went well outside my comfort zone and began a blog titled Shaeffer’s Forays.  The Forays is a play on the 4 A’s: Advocate for Access, Affordability and Accountability.  While the blog was initially my attempt to recapture my inner thirty-something self, it has become a source for reflecting on issues impacting higher education.

The four A’s have quickly moved beyond being a catchy phrase to me. Instead they represent what my friend Roger Whitaker would describe as “why we do what we do” as professionals and as an association.  They are what drive me as a professional and I believe can and should drive us as an association.

Building upon the 4 A’s I would like to share with you some themes I believe we should consider as an association in the coming year UPCEA should advocate for greater membership

Access by:

  • Exploring- collaborative partnerships  and exploring a new technological platform to allow members to connect, create and share content
  • Expanding membership to include discipline specific outreach units whether they are centralized or decentralized
  • Meeting  our members where they are, and provide daily value as an association

We will advocate for Affordability by:

  • Exploring alternative revenue sources and encouraging public/private partnerships

We will advocate for Accountability by:

  • Challenging our existing models of funding, structure, and resources and striving to operate in a transparent manner, allowing members, institutions, and other associations to see that we are living up to our goals and values

Finally, We will advocate for our members by:

  • Committing to “being at the table” where vital discussions related to our field and all of high education are taking place

Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, working with the American Society of Association Executives and the Center for Association Leadership, examined multiple professional associations and identified some of the characteristics of what REMARKABLE associations do.

What I find very helpful about the characteristics listed by Collins is that they can be used to help assess our activity as an association. Speaking of my blog, one of my recent posts talked about using these characteristics in moving our association from a good to a remarkable association.

As I indicated earlier as an association, we will embark on a strategic planning process that will expose our weaknesses and allow us to build on our strengths.

My commitment to you, the members of UPCEA, is that as we go through the strategic planning process and setting strategic directions we will measure ourselves against what remarkable associations do.

A remarkable association has structures, processes, interactions and culture centered around assessing and fulfilling members’ needs and expectations.

A remarkable association views members as a population to serve, rather than a market to sell to.

A remarkable association nurtures a culture in which information is analyzed and shared throughout the organization.

A remarkable association doesn’t just emphasize thinking strategically, they act strategically; consistently implementing their priorities.

What we all want for UPCEA is to be a remarkable association:

I look forward to the coming year and joining you in making UPCEA a remarkable association.

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3 Responses to My commitment to the UPCEA members

  1. Don Swoboda says:

    Once again James, your remarks are positive, to the point, futuristic, professional and humble. You are a consummate professional, a true leader, ethical and trustworthy; which are all reasons you will make a great UPCEA president. Congratulations and best wishes for a successful road ahead. I am honored to call you friend.

  2. Pingback: Leadership in Action | Shaeffer's Forays

  3. Pingback: UPCEA Strategic Planning Process: Maximizing Member Input | Shaeffer's Forays

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