APSCU (Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities) held its annual conference June 16-18. This year, topics and presentations were divided into five program tracks labeled as CEO, Government Relations/Regulatory, Innovations in the Student Experience, Innovations in Education Delivery and Innovations in Campus Leadership. Dee Ann Kerr, regional director for Broadview University, was on the planning committee for the convention. Although this year’s convention was smaller than in years past, the speakers and discussions were relevant and encouraging. Jeff Myhre attended the CEO track aimed at current and future leaders with topics like The Present and Future as Seen from Different Voices, GE and Beyond, Future World of Work and Health Care’s Impact on Our Students, Our Schools and Our Sector. Speakers included professionals from our sector as well as others, including David Goldstein from the Gates Foundation. Tom Kosel followed the Government Relations/Regulatory track to hear discussions on topics like Innovative Strategies to Communicate Our Value in a Hostile Environment, The Next Federal State Authorization Rule, Accreditation in a Restless and Impatient World and Workforce Investment Act. Tom also attended the APSCU Grassroots Committee and State Associations Committee meetings, where the message continues to be about telling our students’ stories. Keynote speakers for all attendees featured:
- Former Governor and Senator from Nebraska Bob Kerry, who asked schools to continue innovating higher education.
- Political analyst Charlie Cook shared insights about trends for the 2014 elections.
- Former Executive Director of White House Initiative on Hispanic Education Leslie Sanchez and Former CNBC Chief Economist and Co-Host of SQUAWK BOX Dr. Marci Rossell gave their views the value of innovation in higher education.
- Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush talked about leading in a climate of change.
The “hometown” highlight was the acceptance speech by our St. Cloud campus Health Care Management Program Chair Debra Berglund after receiving the Educator of the Year award. As APSCU wrote in their blog, “Debra’s commitment to her students was exemplified in her heartfelt speech in which she reflected on the lessons she has learned as an educator.” Debbie’s advice was to:
- Be passionate about what you do.
- Don’t stop being a student.
- Learn from your students – they have new and different ideas or ways of doing something.
- Motivate and inspire your students.
- Get to know your students.
- Remember to give back to your community.
It was evident that most members of APSCU had experienced a decline in enrollment. It was also clear that student-focused career education is still the vision and mission of the members. The speakers confirmed that the focus of our schools should be on engaging our students, tracking outcomes, telling our stories and involving businesses in our education. With our applied learning model, we are focused exactly as we should be to develop our students for the workforce of today and tomorrow. With a constant eye on what is best for student success, we should look forward with optimism and confidence.