ACHE Orlando 2011

ACHE Orlando 2011

Last week I had the good fortune to be a guest at the ACHE annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.  Many thanks to Tish Szymurski, outgoing ACHE president, and Charles Hickox, incoming ACHE president, for their warm welcome and limitless hospitality.  Also thanks to the ACHE “home office” James Pappas and Ynez Walske for all their help.

The theme for the conference was “Sustainable Leadership-Bold Thinking about Who We Are,” and the content of the conference more than lived up to the far-reaching theme.  One of my opportunities was to serve on the 2nd Annual Leadership Symposium panel: Moving Forward through Sustainable Leadership.  My fellow panelists were James Pappas, ACHE Executive Vice President; Harvey King, CAUCE President; Clare Klunk, AAACE President; and Chris Dougherty, our panel chair.  The panel was asked to address three themes:

Creating and sustaining leadership excellence

Bold thinking about innovation and collaboration

How to engage the next generation student

Harvey led us off and did a wonderful job of providing a comparison and contrast in regards to the environment in Canada.  He was followed by Clare who responded to each of these themes from the perspective of our adult student population.  Jim Pappas asked a number of good questions related to the themes, and suggested that as professional continuing educators there are skills that we need to develop to be successful in our roles as innovator, interpreter, and politician.

I took a slightly different approach in that I relied on the words and quotes of others to help me make my points.  Here is an abridged version of my comments:

How do we create and sustain leadership excellence?

1)    Drawing from the speakers at the conference, leadership begins with what we do for others.

2)    We must ask ourselves if we are creating an environment where we encourage the planting of forests instead of the mere tending of pots. (See Neal Gabler, The Elusive Big Idea, NY Times).

3)    Do we make wisdom the preserve of only the leader or do we foster distributed leadership? (The Wise Leader, Harvard Business Review).

4)    Do we recognize and encourage leadership in all its forms? (see Shaeffer’s Forays,

How do we encourage bold thinking about innovation and collaboration?

1)    In terms of collaboration, our friends at the Carnegie Foundation have set a high and aspirational definition of collaboration: “the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”

2)    Are we avoiding the Zenger’s ten fatal flaws that derail leaders? The top four for me are:

  1. Lack of clear vision and direction
  2. Don’t collaborate
  3. Resist new ideas
  4. Don’t learn from mistakes (Zenger, J. Ten fatal flaws that derail leaders, Harvard Business Review, June, 2009).

3)    Do we follow the advice of T. Asacker: The passionate will not only survive, they will thrive?  The future belongs to those unwilling to accept the stifling status quo; the future belongs to those who stay puzzled, excited, frustrated and surprised.

4)    Finally, Steve Jobs challenged the 2005 Stanford class to connect the dots and to stay hungry and stay foolish.  We need to recognize that our time is limited and we should follow our passions, and that many a great idea has emerged from what others called foolish.

How can we engage the next generation student?

1)    We need to come to grips with the fact that technology is playing and will continue to play an ever growing role in the learning process.  As an example, did you know that the number of wireless devices now exceed the US population? Yes, in the first six months of 2011, there are now 327.6 million wireless devices and a US population of 315 million.  I am one of those with three wireless devices for my office use and two for my home use.

2)    We also need to recognize that this “new generation” will include first generation college students, will be multigenerational, and represent the most diverse audience of students to be served by our institutions.

3)    The challenge and opportunity in my mind for professional and continuing educator professionals and our units is to provide leadership in how to engage this next generation of students.  After all, we have long been the leaders in reaching out to diverse audiences, using technology, and developing curriculum to meet the needs of these audiences.  Peter Smith in Harnessing America’s Wasted Talent: A New Ecology suggests that in order to harness the talent of our potential students and moving these students to degree completion, we need to challenge and develop a new teaching learning model; recognize learning that happens outside the classroom; and examine/challenge our current transfer policies.

I ended my comments by challenging participants to be leaders in finding new measures beyond time to degree completion that are measures of success (

It was wonderful to be part of the ACHE Annual Conference, and again many thanks to my ACHE colleagues for including me.

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