Why We Thrive – from The President

Kathleen Kerr
ACPA President

In the fall issue of Developments, I reflected on the June leadership meeting and described “why we struggle.” Since that edition, as is typical of most ACPA – College Student Educators International Presidents, I have had the opportunity to travel widely, meeting and interacting with many ACPA – College Student Educators International members and leaders. Now, as I sit in Delaware in December, our coldest and darkest months ahead of us before spring, I have the opportunity to reflect on why we thrive.

As someone who has been a practitioner for almost 24 years, I am able to reflect on my career and through that lens critically examine the organizational structure of ACPA – College Student Educators International. What I see is an Association that is living out its values. Our values are embodied by the holistic approach that we take to connecting with and serving members.

Opportunities exist to connect with the Association in four primary ways:

  1. Based on where you work (for example, State and International Divisions )
  2. Based on the nature of your work (for example, Commissions )
  3. Based where you are in your career, (for example, the Mid-level Community of Practice or the or the Senior Student Affairs Advisory Board), and/or
  4. Based on your identities (for example, Standing Committees).

Diagram of Where You Work

Connection of course, we hope, leads to involvement, and for some may lead to leadership.

When I travel, I am often asked to talk about Association involvement and how members of all experience levels and backgrounds might get involved. Typically I describe level of involvement as being on a continuum from consumer to masochist (with contributor and leader in-between).

Consumer Diagram Image

I do believe that there is not just one way to get involved and there is not just one acceptable quantity of involvement. We must all find a “right sized” Association fit, and this may change over the course of our careers based on personal and professional context.

ACPA offers enough variety that with a little effort each member can find what will best meet their needs. The range of opportunities is broad. You can attend a conference, institute or convention (consumer); present a program or facilitate a round table discussion (contributor); review programs, serve on a planning committee or the convention team, serve as an institute faculty member (leader); or Chair a Convention Team or Planning Committee (masochist). You can be a listserv voyeur and read articles in the many ACPA publications (consumer); submit articles for publication and post on listservs (contributor); serve on an editorial board (leader); or serve as an editor (masochist).

Involvement though, whatever the level, is crucial to our professional growth and development. Whether you recognize it for the personal and professional value it provides to you, or if you view it as service to the Association and to the profession, it is crucial. Simply stated, there is no way we can contribute to our students’ success if we do not simultaneously commit to ourselves and ensure that we are successful. ACPA – College Student Educators International has understood this and been committed to the growth of each individual since its inception in 1924, when ACPA – College Student Educators International was created with two primary purposes:

  • Supporting the various functional areas within student affairs; and
  • The career and professional development of membership – emphasizing cooperation, research and service.

We will continue to do this, metaphorically, “from cradle to grave.” Whether you are an undergraduate student exploring a career in student affairs, or a practitioner in retirement, ACPA – College Student Educators International will serve your professional development needs. In the near future, we will enhance how we do this by offering free, to all members, access to a “professional registry” which will be rolled out in 2014, our 90th year as an Association. The registry will be a comprehensive web-based professional and career development portfolio, built around the ACPA/NASPA Student Affairs Competencies, that will allow you to record your skills, knowledge, and experiences for use with your supervisor, in your next job search, and as you map out your future.

My travels have allowed me to witness first hand, at institutes, state conferences, in the International Office, and at planning retreats, how ACPA – College Student Educators International involves and develops members, and I have seen the powerful and amazing efforts of consumers, contributors, leaders, and of a couple masochists (you know who you are!). It is why we as an Association thrive and will continue to do so, year after year.

Please e-mail inquiries to Kathleen Kerr .

Follow Kathleen on Twitter @acpaprez

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