Keeling and Jacks Keynote NASPA Region III Summer Symposium
Drs. Richard P. Keeling and Almeda R. Jacks were featured speakers during the NASPA Region III Summer Symposium, held in Virginia Beach, VA, on June 4 and 5, 2012. The Symposium theme was Riding the Waves of Student Change.
We’re Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education
Dr. Keeling’s June 4th address to the Symposium, We’re Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education, focused on the deficit in the quality and quantity of learning in college and how student affairs administrators must respond to this challenge and, more importantly, view it as an opportunity for the betterment of higher education. American colleges and universities are graduating students who cannot think critically and creatively; speak and write cogently and clearly; solve problems; comprehend complex issues; accept responsibility and accountability; take the perspectives of others; and meet the expectations of employers. Dr. Keeling charged that this is “an unacceptable and costly failure that must be resolved if we are to avoid weakening our nation’s political, social, economic, scientific, and technical leadership.”
While such a view might result in a potentially pessimistic outlook for higher education, Dr. Keeling framed this as acute opportunity for Student Affairs to play a prominent and necessary role in promoting and contributing to transformative learning. Colleges and universities must make learning the top priority by significantly changing the current culture of higher education. Student Affairs administrators and faculty alike must rethink higher education by questioning the pantheon of assumptions that forge the common foundation of undergraduate programs including principles, priorities, values, organizational structures, reward systems, and usual and customary practices. In order for learning to become the primary touchstone for decision-making, higher education needs to prioritize the kind of teaching that produces learning; integrate learning both inside and outside of the classroom; create consensus-based learning goals and ensure that the undergraduate experience addresses all of them in a communicative, collective manner; demand and reward higher standards for and expectations for both student and educator performance; ensure regular and routine assessment of student learning experiences linked to improved strategies; revise faculty reward systems to emphasize learning and account for the value of teaching, advising, and mentoring; and provide regular faculty development to strengthen teaching and learning. Student Affairs can play a central role in this transformation by removing barriers to learning, integrating the curricular and co-curricular components of higher education, establishing collective and cumulative goals, and by way of a promoting a development emphasis. Should higher education change its culture by instituting such shifts, we can then change the outcomes.
Riding the Wave: Search Firms Inside and Out
Dr. Almeda R. Jacks, Senior Consultant, was the featured Summer Symposium speaker on June 5th, and gave an address titled: Search Firms Inside and Out. In referencing other featured speakers throughout the Symposium, Dr. Jacks acknowledged the changing face of higher education particularly how technology and social media are impacting students and, as a result, the very culture of our colleges and universities. These changes come equipped with novel challenges for student affairs administrators that will require creative and experienced leadership.
In her talk, Dr. Jacks shared how Keeling & Associates (K&A) executive searches provide unique and cost-effective assistance to colleges and universities looking for the ‘right fit’ in leadership. Through his medical education, experience and leadership in higher education, Dr. Richard Keeling has facilitated high-quality, in-depth searches for university health services and counseling and psychological services for a decade. These searches were expanded in 2011, under the guidance of Dr. Jacks, to include searches for senior administrators and other high-ranking student affairs administrator positions. K&A searches are unique from traditional search firms due to the combined experiences of Dr. Keeling and Dr. Jacks who know higher education and understand that institutions undergoing a search really want the best person ‘yesterday’.
Dr. Jacks delivered a thorough and animated explanation of K&A’s executive search services including the financial benefit of using an external search firm. K&A works closely with an institution to understand the necessary skills needed of the right candidate and the unique culture of that respective institution. The firm continues to partner with the institution to carefully define the position description, strategically place ads, send announcements to K&A’s own network of student affairs leadership, access and vet applications daily, conduct phone interviews, present first and second tier candidates, manage reference checks, and assist in preparation for interviews.
K&A works closely and professionally with candidates throughout the search process. Once a short list of candidates is identified, those not selected are notified immediately rather than waiting until the end of the search process. Dr. Jacks shared that candidates not selected either before or after interviews have the opportunity to receive constructive feedback for future interviews. Her humorous, yet practical advice to those who may not be selected: “Have one day of pout time and then get over it!”
The messages shared by Dr. Keeling and Dr. Jacks were both very well received at the Symposium and generated a great deal of praise on Twitter. K&A is thankful to our partners in NASPA Region III for the opportunity to share these timely and valuable insights with a fantastic audience of student affairs administrators and future administrators.