From the President – Spring 2015

Kent Porterfield

Kent PorterfieldFrom the President

Kent Porterfield, President
Saint Louis University

In my presidential address in Indianapolis on April 1, 2014, I spoke about the importance of a strategic plan for ACPA – College Student Educators International rooted in the Association’s core values.  I stated that this plan should enable flexibility, innovation and responsiveness to the changes that are happening in higher education and our field today. Through a rigorous process led by our new Executive Director Cindi Love, the ACPA Governing Board approved an updated and streamlined plan in September, and I am pleased to report we are making excellent progress on our strategic goals and objectives.

During my term as president, I have focused much of my energy on efforts to support research and scholarship, advance leadership on critical higher education issues, expand access to professional development and volunteer leadership opportunities, and address, in a serious way, greater equity and inclusion within the association and on our campuses. Thanks to the efforts of many, many people, advancements have been made in all of these areas. As I have done in previous columns for Developments, I am pleased to share a few of these advancements with you.

  • Establishment of the inaugural Marylu McEwen Dissertation of the Year Award.
  • Redesign of About Campus for the 20th anniversary, expansion to eight editions and creation of an online e-version of the publication.
  • Plans to host an About Campus Writers Retreat at Virginia Tech in June 2015.
  • Creation of a Senior Scholar Blog for the ACPA website.
  • Through ACPA Books and Stylus Publishing, a new book, Working with Students in Community Colleges: Contemporary Strategies for Bridging Theory, Research and Practice was released.
  • Launch of ACPA’s new digital platform, ACPA Video On Demand, which will enable 50 percent of our professional development offerings to be placed on-line with the capacity for live stream, translation in 55 languages, and closed captioning.
  • Establishment of a new multifaceted digital platform for the ACPAGrow mentoring program.
  • Establishment of a virtual career fair that opens up year round access for recruiters and candidates.
  • Development of a plan for publishing ACPA Convention proceedings with Patrick Love serving as editor.
  • Development of an initiative focused on institutionalized racism that has, to date, produce five Community Conversations on racism, Confronting Reality & Doing What Matters to Get Things Right, through WebEx teleconference technology; six presentations at states on “Constructing Inclusion;” and a sponsored series on racism being delivered through ACPA’s new digital platform.

The Task Force on Digital Technology in Higher Education is producing a report about proven practices, knowledge and skills, research and scholarship, and informed and responsible engagement to address the unique needs of digital educators, students, and leaders. The Task Force has conducted research and interviews to identify best practice and progressive solutions, and with the help of external partners, is now designing and testing high-quality content and learning experiences to help educators, students, and leaders form habits and build competencies necessary to be effective in a digital age. The task force website serves as a repository for findings and a platform for dialogue. At the Tampa Convention, Task Force members will present information and receive feedback from ACPA members, as well as contribute programs, genius lab workshops, and research papers.

The Task Force on Sexual Violence is also developing a report to present to the ACPA Governing Board and is receiving feedback from ACPA members leading up to and through the Tampa convention. The Task Force report will leverage the current campus, media, and governmental attention on compliance to bring greater attention to prevention, and it will focus specifically on educating students and college student educators, as well as to provide recommendations about ACPA’s role in advancing efforts to address sexual violence on college campuses. The Task Force intends for the report to lead to the development of a monograph that will provide content for professional development opportunities provided by ACPA.

Last fall, ACPA and NASPA agreed to jointly appoint a Professional Competencies Task Force to review the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners document which is now five years old and has served as a guide for student affairs educators to frame their work. The joint Task Force is charged with scanning the landscape of higher education and student affairs to ensure that the competencies are up-to-date with current scholarship and practice. Task Force members will share progress and receive feedback at the upcoming ACPA Tampa Convention and NASPA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

I hope to see many of you in Tampa March 5-8 for what will be an incredible convention. The lineup of speakers, Eboo Patel, Steph Hammerman, Jose Antonio Vargas, and Laverne Cox is amazing, and you can check out the online scheduler in advance to search to plan your convention. Be sure to check out #ACPA15 on Facebook and Twitter for convention updates.  Meet me in Tampa to Consider. Collaborate. Create. Commit! I promise it will be a truly great experience.

This is my final column for Developments as ACPA President. It has been a humbling and inspiring year for me. I never imagined I would have the opportunity to serve this great association and our profession in this way, and I owe a debt of gratitude to many people. In particular, I am grateful for the support of Dr. Fred Pestello, Saint Louis University President, and my student affairs colleagues at Saint Louis University who are so dedicated and do such incredible work day in and day out for our students.

During my term, I have had the opportunity to be part of an exciting time of change for ACPA, and I cannot say enough good things about the work Cindi Love is doing in her first year as ACPA’s Executive Director. Moreover, I have greatly appreciated the efforts of the entire ACPA staff, as they have adapted well to the many changes that have taken place in the International Office over the last several months. In his book, Managing Transitions, William Bridges (2009) wrote about a phase of organizational transition that he refers to as the “New Beginning.” It is a time in an organization when new identities and ideas are fully formed, new energy is converted into real action, and the impact or evidence of organizational changes is more apparent. In many ways, it seems to me that ACPA is experiencing a “New Beginning.” With Gavin Henning and Donna Lee as ACPA’s next two presidents, our future looks very bright indeed.

What an exciting and challenging time to be in higher education. I am proud to be part of an association that espouses the right values, has a progressive vision, and is comprised of such talented and dedicated professionals. My time as ACPA president has been a truly inspiring, rewarding and growing experience, and I hope I have contributed a little bit of something along the way.  Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support.  Meet me in Tampa!


Bridges, W. (2009). Managing transitions: Making the most of change (3rd. Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Perseus Books Group.

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