Quarterly Update: From One Dupont Circle

Gregory Roberts
ACPA Executive Director

Greetings from the International Office in Washington, D.C.

This bittersweet edition of “From One Dupont Circle” is bittersweet because it will be my last official communication in Developments to the membership of ACPA  as your Executive Director. There are so many opportunities and challenges in higher/tertiary education today, but I am confident you will have no problem keeping busy with the agendas impacting the educational needs of our students. As you have heard me say many times, the state of higher education in America and the world is changing and changing very fast. The train has left the station, and my question to you is: are you on it? Are you leading the train, following it, or waiting for it to stop at the next station? Think about where you are and where you want to be or need to be to educate 21st century students. The results will be life changing!

As we have discussed before, the United States Federal Government is working to increase educational attainment among United States citizens. As a result, many issues continue to impact us:

  • Affordability to higher education in the United States and challenges of cost containment
  • Access to higher education and preparation needed to ensure that access
  • Accountability is always the end result of all federal expenditure and ethical stewardship of the resources provided to move this agenda forward

In addition, Congress is working slowly to reauthorize the United States Higher Education Act (which happens every five years) and the political game playing that appears to be necessary to get this Act reauthorized. There will be many hours spent advocating for additional funding to ensure our ability in American higher education to be affordable and accessible to those that need it most: lower socioeconomic students, students of color, and students with disabilities. We cannot hold back at this time. Also, there is tremendous focus on the two-year college experience and the need to make access to these institutions as easy and welcoming as possible. Many United States military personnel will be returning from the military conflicts of the Middle East and are encouraged to take advantage of the educational benefits that have been provided as a result of their active duty service for the United States. Let’s make it a priority to do all that we can to make the veteran student experience (like all student experiences) a valuable and worthwhile endeavor. Our veterans deserve as much.

As you can see, there are many international and national issues facing our world that require more attention to the student learning process and ultimate success. Those may seem like tall orders for some, but for those of us in Student Affairs/Student Development, that is what we do and why we do what we do. I urge you as the trail blazers for our future and the future of education to make sure you are onboard advocating for the student learning process that will be more realistic and valuable for the students coming to campus (physically and virtually).

I would like to personally say thank you to the 2014 Convention team and the International Office staff who worked tirelessly to present something new, exciting and challenging to our members and colleagues who attended the “Reinvent” convention. I was most impressed with the one hundred students who participated in the Next Generation Conference, and many students remained in Indianapolis to attend the 90th Annual Convention. These students are the pipeline to the profession, and they are talented, energetic and ready to assume their position of leadership in the profession. We must continue to find ways to attract and retain educators in the field of student affairs.

Also, I want to say a special thank you to the ACPA Leadership and Staff for hosting a fabulous reception in my honor. It was truly a wonderful event. Again I express my sincere appreciation for my many friends and colleagues who were with me (and those who wanted to be there) for this event. The 2014 convention was my 38th ACPA convention, and I have enjoyed my 40 years of membership and involvement with an association that has always attempted to walk the walk and talk the talk on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion of all people. Given my own personal convictions, this has been a dream come true to be able to work passionately on behalf of the many critical issues I feel are essential for human development and more specifically, student development.

There were three initial goals that I set for the association when I assumed the leadership as Executive Director in 2003 and they were:

  1. Stabilize and grow the financial resources (accomplished with reserves in excess of $1.7 million).
  2. Upgrade technology in the International Office (accomplished with online support for convention, journal editing, career services, and a new website).
  3. Strengthen partnership with other associations focused on students (accomplished by creating Student Affairs in Higher Education Consortium, co-hosting joint conventions with NASPA in 2007 and with NIRSA in 2013 in addition to many other joint collaborations).

There has been much accomplished since these primary goals were established and much yet to be done. Eleven years later, I can honestly say it has been a journey and not a destination, and I thank you for the opportunity to serve my professional association in so many capacities over the past 40 years of membership. My most sincere best wishes for a bright and successful future and I look forward to continuing my commitment to the core values as I leave ACPA. I wish the greatest of successes for Dr. Cindi Love as she officially assumes the position of Executive Director on July 1, 2014.

Thank you to a talented and dedicated team of colleagues who have shared this journey over the past 11 years as members of the Governing Board (Executive Council) and International Office staff.

Until another book and another chapter,

Greg

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