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technology educause student success Powell

The Educause 2018 Top 10 IT Issues for Student Success

Educause conducts an annual survey of its constituents prioritizing the top 10 information technology (IT) issues for the year. These issues are reported during a conference session that includes a panel of higher education executives who respond to these issues and priorities. (Pictures provided here were taken during the presentation at Educause during the Top Ten Issues sessions at their conference, held November 2, 2017 in Philadelphia.)

These issues were then categorized into four themes: students, data, planning and funding, and security, which were presented for group discussion.


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Presidents Forum 2017 innovation Powell

Reflections on Presidents’ Forum 2017, Part 2: Development of Leaders for Today and for the Future to Serve and Advance Our Environment

At the October Presidents’ Forum, Dr. Merodie Hancock, president of SUNY Empire State College, led a panel discussion on a topic about which I am passionate -- addressing the need for development of leaders for today and the future to advance the digital and alternative learning environment. Questions addressed by the panel and participants included: How do we prepare leaders for the nontraditional environment? How do we build skills sets (and also define them) to work across institutions in our industry? How do we build policy skills in our emerging leaders to enable them to work with regulators and accreditors? How do we engage emerging leaders in pre-lobbying and/or train them in how the politics of higher education work and how to influence change in this world? To what opportunities do we need to expose emerging leaders in navigating the diversity of voices embedded in leading higher education today, and for the future?

In this discussion of leadership development, I was reminded that we as leaders need to model the way. Transparency, truth, and authenticity were characteristics that came to mind as the various panelists and participants spoke.

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Presidents Forum 2017 innovation Powell

Reflections on Presidents’ Forum 2017: Leadership and Innovation in a Time of Transition

Each October, the Presidents’ Forum convenes to “advance the recognition of innovative practice and excellence in online learning.” The Forum provides an opportunity for higher education leaders focused on alternative and online learning to meet and dialogue on strategic, innovation-related and regulatory issues. To say that these are interesting times for higher education, and especially online and alternative learning, would be an understatement, given the recent sessions here in Washington, D.C.

This year’s gathering focused on questions and perspectives related to innovation and the future. In this post and subsequent ones, I focus on key themes that emerged from the presentations and related dialogues: 1) our use of language and the need to re-define/clarify terms used in distance learning; 2) development of leaders for today and for the future to serve and advance our environment; and 3) emerging and rapidly evolving learning technology.

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Thanksgiving Karan Powell

Reflections on Transitioning to Retired President of APUS

On September 29, APEI CEO Dr. Wally Boston sent the following email to staff: 

After 15 years of distinguished service to APUS as a trustee, dean, provost, and president, Dr. Karan Powell informed the Board of Trustees and me that she is retiring from APUS effective October 15. While her term was scheduled to run through June 30, 2018, Karan and the Board considered the importance of launching a search as soon as possible given the reaccreditation visit with the HLC currently scheduled in August of 2018. During the remainder of her term through June 2018, Dr. Powell will work on transition activities including: providing consulting services, representing APUS in the higher education community as an ambassador of good will, and providing guidance on accreditation related matters as requested.

So today, October 16, 2017, is my first day as APUS “president (retired)”. While moving on from APUS is bittersweet, the decision of the board to search for a new president now rather than in June 2018, on the eve of our Higher Learning Commission accreditation site visit, is the right decision for APUS. As I have said to the leadership team and staff in the past two weeks, my aim was to build a strong university by helping build strong leaders. That legacy lives on in them and the opportunity they now have to lead and take the university to the next level, and I look forward to celebrating this legacy next spring with the larger APUS community.

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NUTN network leadership Powell

Women in Leadership: Thoughts from NUTN 35

Participating on a panel of women leaders at the NUTN conference on October 11 in San Antonio provided the opportunity for reflection on our journey as leaders. The panel was facilitated by Dr. Pam Quinn, provost of the LeCroy Center, Dallas County Community College District. My co-panelists included Dr. Diane Melby, president of Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, and Dr. Adelina Silva, vice chancellor for student success, Alamo Community College District.

What an amazing group of women leaders! In addressing our personal pathways to leadership and the most important characteristics to achieve it, it was fascinating to hear the ways our stories intersected. Common themes included never setting out on a path for a particular position, i.e., who really grows up thinking “I will become a provost, president, or chancellor?” This is especially true for those of us who are first-generation college graduates.

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family preparedness natural disasters Reynolds

Family Preparedness for Natural Disasters

With only about three months remaining in 2017, this year has proven to be a costly one in terms of natural disasters. So far this year, a total of 85 federal disaster declarations have been issued, dealing with everything from winter storms and flooding to hurricanes and wildfires. The unprecedented scale of these disasters has impacted many in our university community. In a matter of just two weeks, the country was hit by two major hurricanes, resulting in the evacuation of six million people in Texas and another 5.6 million in Florida (where I reside in Tampa). Both Harvey and Irma made landfall as Category 4 storms. And in the west, there are no less than 120 wildfires that have destroyed countless acres of forest and thousands of homes.

In a perfect world, everyone would be prepared anytime disaster strikes, but the reality is few disasters allow time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, thus making early planning a necessity. Whether it is wildfires in the west, tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest or hurricanes in the south and east coast, we all face the ever-present threat of disaster. Preparedness begins at home with our families, assuring they have the necessities needed for survival during long-term emergencies. While preparing my own family and home for the arrival of Irma, I spent the day sending out a series of tweets to help other members of our university community prepare their own families for disaster.

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