Frome the Editor: Let Us Be

Paul Eaton

Let us be Vulnerable

Before I preview the thought-provoking scholarship present in this issue of Developments, I wanted to follow the advice of Dr. Brene Brown, who many of us will see next week in Indianapolis in the featured HEd Talk Speakers Sessions.  The advice is to be vulnerable; to let ourselves be fully seen so we may invite into our lives love, connection, and authenticity.

The past few months, I have observed in those around me a bit of struggle. I have noticed a bit of struggle in myself as well. This is not struggle brought on by the “polar vortexes” of the current endless winter many across the United States are feeling, or the monotonous and unrelenting pressures to perform, produce, write, program, assess, report, strategically plan, continuously problem solve, present, exercise, parent, and serve many of us balance in our day-to-day lives.

I believe it is a struggle of disconnection. Our disconnection is ironic in world of hyper-connectivity ushered in by digital technological advances. But I think this disconnection is real. I know it feels that way for me sometimes. I feel disconnected from my close friends and family who are geographically dispersed across the globe. I feel disconnected from students who rarely stop to have a conversation. I sometimes feel disconnected from my scholarship and work, getting lost in the dark tunnel of wondering what it all means, if others will find it important, or if ultimately it will really make a difference.

This is why Convention season is my favorite time of year. Like the spring budding up from the ground after a long winter, Convention always invites us to renew and refresh our connection to the profession, to our work, to our students, to our scholarship, and to each other. Convention plants new seeds: ideas, hopes, inspiration, and waters the connections we all collectively share to each other as members of ACPA – College Student Educators International and the world of higher education, student learning, and global change.

I hope that as we convene next week in Indianapolis we will take time to let ourselves be genuinely seen by colleagues and the world.  I hope that as Dr. Brene Brown instructs us, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. To have genuine conversation, not just about our year of successes or our hopes for the upcoming year or years, but also about our failures, our challenges, our struggles.  I hope we doing this individually, but I also hope that our Association does this.  It is our 90th year, and I believe that Associations, as much as individual people, can be vulnerable.  This will allow the emergence of the love, creativity, empathy, and connections necessary to carry the Association forward. Reinvent. You. Us.

Let us be Grateful and Thankful

In my last column, I reflected on the importance of being grateful, thankful, and recognizing the contributions of those around us who make our work possible. I want to continue this trend in this issue with a few special notes of thanks.

  • Dr. Kathleen Kerr: Dr. Kerr officially ends her term as President at the Indianapolis Convention. Thank you for your service to our profession, and for helping guide our Association through planning our course for the future, including work in selecting our new Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Love.
  • Dr. Greg Roberts: I have never known ACPA – College Student Educators International without Dr. Roberts as our Executive Director. That will either make Dr. Roberts feel like he has been doing this too long, or still makes me a newbie.  We have much to be thankful for as an Association.  As Dr. Roberts departs us later this year for new adventures, I hope we all will share with him the profound impact he has had on our lives.  Thank you for your service Dr. Roberts.
  • Colin Redick & Jon Gilmore: ACPA has a new website. If you have ever worked on website conversions, you know how tremendously difficult they can be. Let us thank Colin, Jon, and the many other International Office Staff who have helped to move our Association forward in web presence.

Issue Overview

In this issue of Developments, we have two invited special contributions that allow us to continue reflecting on the role of ACPA – College Student Educators International in addressing the needs of students and a dynamic changing world.  Brian Reece reflects on the history and future of ACPA in the work of Equity and Inclusion, specifically asking how we turn our work as professionals into problem-posing work.  Danielle Alsandor discusses the shifts in technology that have already and will continue to greatly influence the work we do with students in the 21st century.

We begin a new three-part series focused on the role Global Education in the 21st century.  The authors begin their series by questioning the structuring of 21st century curricula and the need for more multidisciplinary and omnidisciplinary approaches to student learning. Further, the authors continue the call for merging the work of the curricular and co-curricular in higher education.  In many ways, as we reflect on this first article, we should also think through the structures of our own divisions of student affairs, and how to make our own work more multidisciplinary.

Jason Lane discusses the possibilities of technology for creating virtual global studies experiences, in a piece that nicely complements the first part of our Global Education series.  In our Perspectives section, the conundrum facing student affairs professionals regarding technology is discussed, with viewpoints on potential implications for best practice. As you can see, our profession is becoming more engaged in discourse surrounding the possibilities and limitations of the digital technological revolution.

Our other featured columns contain some outstanding scholarship about issues often not discussed in the literature. In this month’s two-year college column, Marisa Vernon discusses the role of community colleges in assisting students get an education that have prior criminal history (called restored citizens) or who are navigating the difficult legal terrain of DACA.  Neal Hutchens discusses our legal and ethical obligations as a profession, and as colleges and universities, in understanding the implications of outsourcing work.  These are fascinating articles – I encourage you to read them thoroughly.

Finally, Ann Gansemer-Topf discusses a topic of great importance for our profession: theory-to-practice. In this piece, she reflects on the challenges of moving from a practitioner to a scholar, and more importantly, the interconnections of our work and why teaching, studying, and thinking about theory remains important for emerging and continuing professionals.

Safe travels to Indianapolis!

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