February 28, 2017

SEC Leadership Program Prepares Current, Future University Leaders

Mississippi State President Mark Keenum talked to SEC ALDP participants about leadership on the workshop's opening night.
Mississippi State President Mark Keenum talked to SEC ALDP participants about leadership on the workshop's opening night.

By: James Carskadon (Mississippi State University)
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

Originally published Feb. 24, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. — SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows from the conference’s 14 universities visited Mississippi State University this week, attending workshops to prepare them for administrative roles in higher education.

Each university selects four fellows for the year-long program, which includes two workshops held on SEC campuses. This year, the fall SEC ALDP group met at the University of Alabama and MSU hosted the spring workshop. MSU Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Peter Ryan said the workshops are designed to complement each other.

“The agenda this week has mainly focused on the challenges academic institutions are facing in recent times, such as cyber security, campus crises management, classroom issues, Title IX concerns and faculty governance,” Ryan said. “It’s really looking at the holistic aspect of administering a higher education institution.”

The workshop agenda included leadership insight from MSU President Mark E. Keenum and panels featuring university provosts, vice presidents and deans discussing the challenges they face in their positions. On Friday morning, fellows participated in an “in basket exercise” where they worked through hypothetical situations that could arise on campus. Ed Pohl, who leads the University of Arkansas’ Department of Industrial Engineering, said the conference is a good way to network and see how other people deal with difficult situations.

“A lot of us wrestle with the same issues,” Pohl said. “When you’re back at your home institution, you always feel like you’re dealing with issues by yourself, but they’re very similar to what other folks have around the conference. This workshop gives you an opportunity to meet people you can reach out to when you encounter situations they may have already dealt with.”

In addition to the two workshops, ALDP Fellows participate in activities at their home campuses that help improve leadership skills. At MSU, the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President leads a monthly group meeting of the university’s ALDP Fellows. Angi Bourgeois, who was named MSU Department of Art’s department head last year after approximately two years leading the department in an interim role, said the monthly meetings have introduced her to many practical books and discussion topics.

“It’s an opportunity to open up about the challenges we face and learn from one another and talk through issues,” she said. “I find it very helpful as a new administrator because I can learn from people doing the same thing.”

The SEC ALDP Fellows also toured MSU’s campus during the workshop. Melissa Moore, head of MSU’s Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law, and an ALDP fellow, said she was proud to show off what the university has to offer.

“In the SEC, we’re certainly highly competitive on the field, but when it comes to the academic side, we can all be stellar, premier institutions, and there’s enough fantastic students to go around that we can all excel,” Moore said. “Opening up the door to share information, whether it’s the tough administrative calls or the development of a new exciting program, provides a huge benefit to all of us.”