March 24-28, 2010 ACPA will host the annual convention in the vibrant city of Boston. ACPA is fortunate, nearly half of its 8,500 members attend the convention, and so far over 22 countries will be represented. This, in part, makes ACPA special. ACPA is a home where friends and colleagues come together every year to learn, share stories, compare notes, and engage in service. The annual convention is a spectacle of events. A place where colleagues have five-minute updates in hallways as they race to a program session, 10-minute coffee breaks to share family photos, or rapid-paced meetings to plan future programs. Without the napkins at the many restaurants around a convention hotel there may not be the abundance of activities within the association. Those napkins have served many as the paper in which to take notes.
The ACPA President gets to provide a short update in “Developments” four times a year. This is the fourth and final one for me. Today I would like to address the important concept of “friends and colleagues.” Allow me to pay tribute to a few of those people I know that have helped shape ACPA just a little over their lifetime.
During my presidential remarks last March I spoke about Dr. Charles J. Fey, Dr. Tom G. Walter, and Dr. Deborrah Hebert. In this article I will share a short story about Dr. Russ Watjen, Mr. Stephen Lamb, and Ms. Robin Diana.
L. Russell Watjen, or Russ, has been an ACPA member since the 1970’s. I first met Russ during a Commission for Administrative Leadership meeting. Russ was very active in ACPA in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He led the commission’s efforts to introduce technology into our student affairs work. Now please understand that the dial-up modem didn’t hit the public market until the early 1990’s, so the work that Russ was spearheading was revolutionary.
I didn’t get to know Russ well until he hired me later as his Dean of Students. Russ was a single dad raising three small kids while serving as the vice president. His wife died from cancer. As the dean I observed how he balanced the demands of his vice presidency to those of his children. His children meant everything to him and he paid dearly in time and companionship. As his friend I valued our personal and professional relationship and remain humbled to still be his friend. Russ has received many distinctions through his years with ACPA. This year he is a part of the Diamond Honoree class of 2010.
Stephan Lamb was innovative. He was the Associate Director of Housing at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and constantly cutting edge in all that he did. He aspired to hire a balanced team of practitioners that shared values in inclusivity, ambition, and scholarship. In his own way he had high expectations for his staff and fully expected those around him to try and make a difference in the profession and the world. My staff teams will see a lot of him in me. However, that was just one small part of the true person. Stephan also had humility and compassion. He could stop cold in his tracks to carefully listen to you. He shared in your life’s growth. He trusted you unconditionally. He was like a big brother wanting his little brothers and sisters to do better.
I watched Stephan a lot. I admired his skill in reading a resume and his tenacity in hiring staff. He never forgot a person and, in some ways, never stopped recruiting the people he valued. He shared with me the gift of unconditional support and showed me his pride as his staff went on to do other wonderful things. This field is filled with people like Stephan. We shouldn’t forget them. In fact, we should try and become more like them.
Robin Diana I first met at a Commission for Administrative Leadership (as a side note: if you are a member of ACPA and not involved in one of the commissions, states divisions, or standing committee, do join them and get involved). We were both new professionals at our very first ACPA in Miami (my first ACPA was actually the joint convention in Chicago in 1987. It was there I first heard the questions why is there both an ACPA and NASPA). Somehow Robin and I found our way into this commission meeting. I am joking when I say it but it seems we introduced ourselves and immediately was assigned a task or committee. Who would have guessed that 23 years later, countless committees and convention teams together, plenty of 10-minute updates in the hallway or over coffee, and watching our families evolve and children grow that we would still be together as the Boston 2010 President and Convention Chair. Neither one of us would have guess this in the late 1980’s, yet alone in the 2000’s.
Robin cares. She cares about her team, people, and ACPA. She follows the details and trusts people. She believes in the good of all people. She also believes in knowledge, intelligence, and common sense. Her idealism is subtly balanced by her pragmatism. This is why she is an
awesome convention chair and an even more awesome colleague, mentor, or friend to hundreds of others. I have learned many things from working with Robin, maybe the biggest lesson is collegiality.
ACPA is home to many people all seeking different things from this association. Whether you are a new professional, middle manager, faculty, senior student affairs officer, or corporate partner there is something in ACPA for you. Contained in this ACPA experience are life’s lessons, strategies to improve our workplace, mentors, caring colleagues, and the five minute update in the hallway. Take advantage of your ACPA and take advantage of your 8,500 friends and colleagues in your home — in your APCA. Weeee.
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