What a year (part one):
For probably close to twenty years, a Christmas Eve tradition at our house has been celebrating with prime rib and corn chowder. This year was a year when our kids were with the other sides of their families and our youngest, James, is working studying in Berlin, so our family was separated by miles and oceans. However, the traditions lived on and sons in Berlin and Minneapolis prepared the prime rib and chowder and through the miracle of Skype we were all together in spirit and traditions!
So, here it is Christmas Eve, Peggy and I are in Arlington, VA enjoying the evening with Peggy’s brother Greg and sister-in-law Ava, Greg and I are golf partners and have a good time on and off the golf course.
And as we end this year on a much quieter note that other Christmas holidays with the house brimming with kids and grandchildren, I have had a chance to look back over the year through the words I shared in Shaeffer’s Forays. I knew it was quite a year but re-reading some of the posts to Shaeffer’s Forays I must admit it was an unbelievably amazing year filled with gifts and adventures. What a lucky person I am.
It started in February, a trip to Dubai to present at the 14th Annual International Conference on Drug Discovery & Therapy. It was a great opportunity to not only visit a country and enjoy their hospitality but also stretch my comfort zone in writing and presenting a paper about innovation related to drug discovery. Thanks to Sarah MacDonald, we looked at innovation in drug discovery. We found that we need to find new ways to encourage more research that can assist in addressing drug discovery for disease impacting a small population, a need for drug therapy for impoverished countries and further the work on drugs that are no longer under patent. While the work with pharma is often life and death decisions, we in higher education face similar challenges in that we also need to find new ways of providing greater access to education and the opportunity to education in the US.
The next stop on my trips was to Cambridge, UK for the University Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) annual conference. It was a great experience to be in Cambridge and to interact with our colleagues in Europe. They are wrestling with issues similar to the challenges we face in UPCEA; accessibility, affordability, and accountability. One of the gifts I took away from this experience was a quote from James Stuart which I see as a call to action: “The object of all education is to teach people to think for themselves, that is the direct or specified object of what is called Higher Education…..a man who is educated in the truest sense may even be unable to read or write, for an educated man is a man who is capable of thinking about what he sees.” (Thanks, Adrian.)
My year as president of UPCEA culminated with our annual meeting in Portland. Any reflection about the 2012 UPCEA Annual Conference must begin by thanking David Schejbal and his excellent conference planning committee for bringing together an excellent annual conference. The planning committee, with the expert assistance of the UPCEA National Office, implemented a number of new initiatives for this conference that included establishing program tracks that centered on the primary professional responsibilities of our members, kicking off the conference with half-day intensive sessions for each track, and featuring a track based on the conference theme of Resilience which examined sustainability from several perspectives including environmental, programming, organizational, and financial. Many thanks to all involved in planning the 2012 Annual Conference.
In addition, we passed a new strategic plan for UPCEA and going through that process I was reminded of the many articles and books I’ve read about change. Change is hard, to be successful change cannot be a zero sum game, change is messy and requires making hard decisions, and I found I felt best with change by giving it a personal touch.
I was and continue to be humbled by the opportunity I was given to serve as president of UPCEA.
I will close part one of “what a year” with the recognition that you really can go home again. I was lucky enough to be invited back to the University of Wyoming to address old friends and new associates about what I had learned during my year as President of UPCEA. This presentation allowed me to take “a look in the rear view mirror” regarding what I had learned about leadership and outreach in the last year. For me, the major take away from my year as president of UPCEA is the important and vital role our units play in being the leading advocate for this cause.
Part two of “what a year” needs a little work but should be out soon. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.