Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Lifelong Learning

As the title suggests, I am a lifelong learner.  I look to find opportunities to learn from my peers and all of those I meet through my work.  There is no shortage of good ideas and information.  June 28th – July 1st, I was privileged to attend the 5th annual Summer Institute, sponsored by the Association for Collaborative Leadership.  While I have been to intensive programs before, this one was targeted toward making new connections and creating lasting relationships between people who work at all levels within educational consortia.  I found myself truly engaged, not just about work, but about how each individual approached higher education and the passion that they had for what they did.

As someone new to the world of consortia, I was very interested in learning more about the differences and similarities between higher education institutions, businesses, and consortia.  This institute helped me to gain a better understanding of how these intersect, while also illustrating the diversity even between consortial structures and models.  The sessions were broken down as follows:

  • Session One: Consortial Leadership Overview
  • Session Two: Vision, Leadership, Collaboration
  • Session Three: Strategic Planning:  Planning, Implementing, Reporting, and Assessment
  • Session Four: Leading with Your Values: Mission-Based Marketing and Communications
  • Session Five: Financial Management of the Consortium: A Primer

Interwoven throughout all of the presentations was a subtext of trust, relationship, and change.  As a student of organizational change, I was very interested in how all of these sessions related to moving forward in a way that encouraged collaboration and participation from members of the different consortium.  We were encouraged to think critically about our own organizations, learn from our fellow participants, and challenge the ideas, models, and assertions put forward by faculty.  It was an experience filled with “teachable moments.”

A final aspect that was extremely valuable was the personal and small group interaction.  Some of the deepest learning came through informal conversations over dinner.  As a group, we not only got to know each other professionally, but also share and listen to personal experiences and stories that created the context for why we do the things we do.  Understanding the underlying motivation that translates to passion is a valuable component to creating lasting relationships.

I want to thank all of those who participated in this event, the faculty members for their wise and valuable counsel, and the consortia who were sponsors.  This was a wonderful experience and I look forward to working with all of my colleagues moving forward.