Being Thankful (2nd Annual)

Being Thankful (2nd Annual)


When I started Shaeffer’s Forays, I had no idea that I would keep up my blog posts for over a year (55 posts and counting).  And who knows how long it will last? (And for those who are cheering for me to quit, not so fast my friends!)  Living in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where we believe the first Thanksgiving took place, the Thanksgiving week is an excellent reminder to stop and reflect about not only those things we are thankful for, but to also say thank you to those that support us.


Last year I shared a list of things that I was thankful for, from my garage door to the Cubs (  As I look back over the year, so many great things have happened , and I have much to be thankful for.  So here is an abbreviated list for what I am thankful for, and my thanks to those who have supported me.


1)    I am thankful for UPCEA’s highly engaged members, and many thanks to all of you who do the work of UPCEA on a volunteer basis.  I had the opportunity to visit a number of the UPCEA Regional Meetings this fall, and I found the content timely and the presentations insightful.  Many thanks to all the regions for being the front door to UPCEA.

2)    I am thankful for my JMU Outreach & Engagement Staff and I can’t thank them enough for their on-going support.  Taking on the responsibilities of being president of UPCEA doesn’t “just happen.”  There is no way to take this position on without a great deal of support from the those who keep the home fires burning and make sure that not only the trains continue to run on time but also move our agenda forward.  Thanks to a great bunch of professionals in Outreach & Engagement at JMU.

3)    I am thankful to JMU’s upper administration whose support is key to being UPCEA president, and thanks to John Noftsinger, who left us much too early, for his support.

4)    I am thankful that I have a great UPCEA Board and thanks to each of you for giving of your time freely.  I sent a note of thanks to the Board last week and it best describes my thanks:

“Since our meeting in Toronto, we’ve built upon the leadership of Judy Ashcroft and the hard work of Bob Hansen and the national office to accomplish a number of strategic initiatives.  We’ve launched the CRC and the number of new partners has exceeded expectations; we partnered through the CRC with WCET to provide the first “real data” about the impact of the state approval regulations; Bob spearheaded the first Summit on Online Learning in cooperation with WCET, ACHE, Sloan-C, and EDUCAUSE; under Tom Gibbon’s leadership we are in the midst of a game-changing strategic planning process that, again thanks Tom and Bob, has been as transparent a process as possible; and we’ve been to Vegas, baby! and had a very successful marketing conference.


While not as visible as the above items, great work is being done on our annual conference, Portland 2012, by David Schejbal and his committee; our Opportunity and Equity Committee under Bea Gonzalez’s leadership; and many thanks to Bili Mattes and her awards committee, who are not only facilitating the selection of our award winners but are also reviewing the whole awards process.


I am sure that I’ve failed to mention other accomplishments and I apologize for that.  Please know that I feel very lucky to also have the support of Bob and the national office staff.  As any past president will tell you, they make being president an enjoyable and doable job.”

5)    I am thankful that I finally got a hole-in-one, and I can take that off my bucket list. I’m also thankful that I get to remind my kids on a regular basis that the old man has a hole-in-one and they don’t.  Yes, I can occasionally be petty.

6)    No list of thanks would be complete if I didn’t say I’m thankful for the UPCEA national office.  Bob, it has been a great year. And to the whole UPCEA office staff, thanks for your help and support.

7)    I am thankful for a supportive family, and many thanks to my wife Peggy for putting up with me and helping keep me in balance.  I am pushing for Peggy to be voted in as an honorary member of UPCEA.

8)    Finally I am thankful for all those people who have a sense of humor and thanks for bringing that sense of humor to the work place.  I want to especially thank the flight attendant on my last flight from Dulles to the tiny Shenandoah Valley Airport.  It was a delayed flight, it was very late and most of the passengers, me included, were tired and not happy.  She simply took over and made some of the best wisecracks I’ve heard. (Sometime you will have to ask me about how she convinced at least one passenger that we were on the “eco-friendly” flight because the left propeller hadn’t started yet.)  It was such a great experience that she didn’t get the usual Shaeffer “thanks,” she got the Shaeffer “HIGH FIVE.”  So for those of you who bring your sense of humor to wherever you go, THANK YOU, and to those who don’t, now is a good time to start.



In closing, I want to thank my younger sister who has taken on the major caregiver role with our parents.  Anyone who is dealing with aging parents knows the trials and tribulations that this can bring.  Thanks to all of you who are in the sandwich generation and are finding a way to balance your life in which you celebrate the lives of your children and at the same time honor the lives of your parents.


Peggy and I wish you and your families a safe, restful, and happy Thanksgiving.


PS This is the year for the Cubs.


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