ACHE held our inaugural Emerging Leader Institute June 12-16 on the campus of Loyola University Chicago in the heart of the Windy City’s downtown. The Institute was an exciting event that provided higher education professionals with the opportunity to meet with leaders in higher education innovation, network with other emerging continuing education leaders from across the country, and sharpen focus on professional pathways in higher education.
For the first inaugural session, we welcomed 15 emerging leaders from across the continuing higher education spectrum in our initial cohort. These included professionals in the fields of higher education and continuing education, among others.
During the three-day institute, participants attended sessions led by higher education leaders and participated in supporting seminars for professional development. Each day of the Institute highlighted a different keynote speaker who introduced a distinct and valuable perspective for consideration.
For the first keynote, Dr. Paula Peinovich spoke on the topic of “Composing a Career as a Leader.” Throughout the session, Peinovich described to the participants how she developed a personal “mission” focused on serving underserved adult learners, a mission that eventually led her to the helm of the National Labor College. She has devoted her career to institutions that have a mission of access for underserved adult learners and are themselves agents of social change.
In developing her talk, Peinovich wrote in her session summary that she was inspired by Mary Catherine Bateson’s book, Composing a Life, in which Bateson observes that “it is no longer possible to follow the paths of the previous generation” (p. 2). Peinovich wrote, “this is especially true in higher education, where the landscape is now changing at an increasingly frantic pace: not in a generation or even a decade but rather almost annually. Careers, therefore, can seldom be defined by a single goal derived from paths of the past, or even a fixed group of goals. Leaders must grow into wisdom and find their way in a fluid and ever-changing world, without becoming aimlessly lost.
Following the keynote, afternoon facilitators included Dr. Jim Pappas from the University of Oklahoma and Jan Asnicar, Senior Vice President and Managing Director at EFL Associates. Pappas talked with participants about strategies to get a seat at the table with other administrative and academic departments on campus, while Asnicar held a workshop titled “What Employers are Looking For.” Her workshop focused on positioning and marketing oneself for future professional opportunities. Participants ended the day by meeting one-on-one with Asnicar in individual reviews of their résumés and CVs.
Loyola University Chicago’s Dr. John Pelissero began day two of the Institute by leading an open discussion with the participants on the topic of applying key leadership principles to their own careers. Pelissero reflected on his path from Army officer to faculty member on to his current position as interim president of Loyola University Chicago. He asked the participants to envision their personal paths and what those paths might look like.
After Pelissero’s keynote, Walter Pearson from Loyola University Chicago began the day’s skill-building activities with a workshop titled "How to Hire Good People and Help Them Succeed." Then, Dr. Roxanne Gonzales of Clarion University challenged participants to assess themselves and their personal leadership styles and philosophies during her session “Leadership: Assess Self and Your Road Ahead.” Day two closed with Walter Pearson facilitating an interactive session on ways emerging leaders can better serve adult students.
For the last keynote of the Institute, Dr. Roger Maclean from The University of Montana spoke on an increasingly relevant topic—"Power, Scarce Resources, and Life Balance." His session included discussions of institutional culture, leadership power and influence, dealing with change and scarce resources, negotiating challenges to navigate success, and strategies for work/life balance.
Team Building and Final Thoughts
On each day of the Institute, participants were invited to engage in various networking and team building exercises. These ranged from formal meetings at Loyola University Chicago, to informally gathering for dinner, a baseball game, and at various locations in the Windy City. Throughout the event, the cohort developed valuable relationships with their peers and shared insights and experiences that will help them continue to grow into their roles as innovative higher education professionals.
Kathy Burkholder, an ELI participant from Kansas State University, said after the Institute, “I learned a lot and appreciated the diversity of our cohort. The speakers and leaders were top notch, each day ‘flowed’ easily into the next, and the overall agenda was well thought out.”
Want to share your experience from the Emerging Leader Institute? Please feel free to comment below or connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos of the event can be found on the ACHE Flickr account as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages.