November 10, 2020

SEC Launches Virtual Panel Forum in Academic Leadership Development Program

Panel discussion during spring 2020 SEC ALDP workshop at the University of Florida (Photo taken before COVID-19)
Panel discussion during spring 2020 SEC ALDP workshop at the University of Florida (Photo taken before COVID-19)

By: SEC Staff
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (November 10, 2020) – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Southeastern Conference is preparing to conduct its first ever virtual SEC Academic Leadership Development Program event – the SEC ALDP Fall Forum, the Conference announced on Tuesday.

The fall forum is slated for November 17 and is designed to provide invited former SEC ALDP fellows with continuing educational opportunities via live, interactive panel discussions on current topics.

The first session is entitled “Communicating in the Midst of a Pandemic,” and it will feature senior administrators from around the SEC who are responsible for communicating with various university stakeholders. In a panel format, administrators will discuss the challenges and opportunities COVID-19 presents relative to internal and external communication while helping attendees identify strengths and weaknesses in their own communication strategies.

“Across higher education, the COVID-19 pandemic has become the backdrop for almost all university decision-making, for evaluating standard operating procedures and for defining success,” said Dr. Torie A. Johnson, SEC Associate Commissioner for Academic Relations. “It has challenged university leaders to reconsider how they communicate with a diverse group of constituents who at times have needs and perspectives that appear to be contradictory. Our hope is that this discussion will help equip former SEC ALDP fellows in this crucial leadership area.”

Fall forum panelists from different SEC universities will represent central communications, the office of the provost and student affairs. In addition, the chair of the SEC Academic Leadership Development Program, Dr. Matthew Martens, Associate Provost for Academic Programs at the University of Missouri, will serve as moderator. The anticipated roster of panelists is listed below in alphabetical order.

Dr. Charles Robinson – Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, University of Arkansas

Dr. Charles Robinson was named permanent provost and executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at Arkansas in September. He had previously served as interim provost since July and as the vice chancellor for student affairs since 2016. In 20 years at the institution, Robinson achieved the rank of full professor of history and has served as director of the African American studies program and as vice chancellor for diversity affairs.

Mark Rushing, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations, University of Arkansas

Mark Rushing has contributed to numerous key communication initiatives during his eight years at Arkansas, including developing unifying messaging themes for the university and updating its mission and vision statements. He also helped create the university’s award-winning video series, Arkansas Short Takes, and was the university’s first designated campus coordinator for Freedom of Information Act requests.

Amy Smith, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Texas A&M University

Amy Smith, a former consultant and global communications executive for both Fortune 500 companies and government agencies such as The Coca-Cola Company, American Express, the U.S. Secret Service, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, has used her unique expertise at Texas A&M since 2016. As the senior vice president, she oversees a team of marketing, communications, media relations, events, and brand licensing and development professionals who serve a university with more than 69,000 students an annual research expenditures of nearly $1 billion.

Dr. Michael Stephenson, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Texas A&M University

Dr. Michael Stephenson, in addition to serving as vice provost, is a professor of communication using his academic expertise to lead the communication efforts in the office of the provost at Texas A&M. His research examines the media’s role in changing or reinforcing health behavior, and he has authored or co-authored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. In addition, Stephenson’s campus responsibilities include institutional data and survey research functions and collaborative assessment.

The 13-year-old SEC Academic Leadership Development Program seeks to identify, prepare and advance academic leaders for roles within SEC institutions and beyond. It has three components, a university-level development program designed by each institution for its own fellows; two SEC-wide three-day workshops held on specified campuses for all program participants; and a competitive fellowship designed to provide administrative growth opportunities for former fellows. It is one of several SEC academic endeavors designed to support the teaching, research, service and economic development goals of the Conference’s 14 member universities.