I’m a conference hoarder. I love the experience of interacting with like-minded colleagues, learning new best practices, and having social networking opportunities with leaders in the field. That being said, I’ve been to some great and not so great conferences in my short time as a #SAPr0, and #LEI12 is pretty much top dog from my perspective.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I begged my boss to let me attend the conference. It was right at the end of the semester when things get crazy around the office, and although the premise of the “Leadership Educators Institute” seemed pretty straight forward, I wasn’t sure if I was bumbling into a mostly grad-student conference, or a mostly mid-level scenario. Whatever my initial hesitations were, they were complete unfounded.
Arriving at OSU, and their ABSOLUTELY amazing student union, revealed a coalescence of veteran SAPros, new professionals and graduate students that made for the perfect storm of colleague engagement and enlightenment. I found myself thrown into a conference where I knew nobody attending, but left it having a solid crew of folks I felt truly and authentically connected with, both professionally and socially. Hearing from some of my Student Affairs crushes, Dr. Susan Komives, Dr. John Dugan, and Dr. Julie Owens (to name just a few), kicked off a conference that would reveal innumerable new routes for Leadership Programs and development strategies. Networking with those folks we all see in #SAChat, but perhaps have never had the pleasure of physically colliding with was icing on the cake.
So what were some of the key take-aways for me from this bi-annual shindig we call LEI? Well, theres a ton, but for the sake of readership, here’s just a few stand-out ones from the perspective of “this guy”:
- When NASPA, ACPA and NCLP join forces, even for just a glimmer of a second, amazing learning outcomes are achieved.
- Dr. Corey Seemiller’s work at the University of Arizona could single-handedly reshape how institutions look at learning outcomes, their association with real-world skill development, and the broader application of those outcomes to a myriad of curricular, co-curricular, and purely social engagement opportunities.
- The Social Change Model isn’t the only player in the game, but it sure does team up well with almost all of our campuses when it’s up at bat.
- In the tweeted words of Chris Conzen “Social Justice – not just making sure everyone has shoes, but that everyone has shoes that fit” = GENIUS!*
- We aren’t using assessment tools to their full extent the majority of the time, and it’s important for us to (and this isn’t meant to sound silly) assess our assessment strategies and how we are applying the derived tangible results of our work.
- Dr. Susan Komives is indeed as amazing as folks have said she is.
- What James MacGregor Burns said decades ago still applies “Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.” So it’s our job to continue that search for understanding so that we can distill out for our students, a method, objectives and ideal outcomes for the work we are doing with and for them.
- Academic multi-linguistic skills are key to crossing the bridges with our colleagues on the academic side, as well as many of our colleagues on the student affairs side.
- We’ve all got our work cut out for us, but I couldn’t be more excited to know that there are so many of us out there doing the good work that’s needed!
All in all, LEI12 blew my mind, and rekindled some of the fires that drove me into this field in the first place. Like we say, leadership isn’t a position, it’s a journey and a process, and much like those dwarves and a hobbit bumbling through a world of mystery and intrigue, I’m excited to venture on with you on this adventure.
*Editor’s note: shout out to Vernon Wall who uses the shoes that fit reference in his “10 Myths of Social Justice” talk.
Benjamin Lamb is the Assistant Director for Student Involvement at Williams College.