September 11, 2012
The September 2012 Bulletin will be hitting desks soon. Check out Managing Editor Elizabeth Beltramini's column highlighting this issue's articles.
With my daughter nearly 18 months old, I have become quite familiar with YouTube’s catalogue of “Sesame Street” videos. While watching the colorful, fuzzy Muppets describe various adjectives, my husband and I got into a discussion of whether we’d rather be “smart” or “clever.”
I said I would prefer to be clever because it implies a certain intelligence, wit, and the ability to seek and discern new information. Smart connotes an archive of knowledge but not the same spirit of discovery. Either one is a compliment, but this issue of The Bulletin aims to help you be clever. Specifically, we hope it will help you turn an old concept on its head, garner historical context for modern success, build on what you already know, and learn new ways to achieve results.
Turn an old concept on its head. Many campus meeting planners and student crews conduct dozens of set-ups daily. They know all the tricks to make sure rows are perfectly straight and all eight chairs are evenly spaced at the round table. But, when in this process does anyone pause to inquire how well such arrangements promote audience engagement? Are they meeting our campus community’s needs? That spirit of inquiry is essential. In "Rethinking Room Set-Ups for Maximum Engagement," we look at alternatives to traditional schemes and how set-ups can be evaluated—even by student employees—to achieve desired goals.
Garner historical context for modern success. When looking to initiate change, it is important to consider how we arrived at the present and what influences the past might maintain. For instance, while we may know that college unions and Black Student Unions serve distinct roles on campus, we might not have gone so far as to categorize their differences as is so cleverly done in "Influence of Whiteness on College Unions." These characteristics help us frame each organization’s history in terms of whiteness, providing context for the current campus climate and our work to build community across racial narratives.
Build on what you already know. Succession planning is not a new concept; the baby boomers are retiring, and we need to ensure they do not leave a hole in our organizations. ACUI itself is led by a baby boomer executive director, and the Board of Trustees is already in
anticipation of her retirement. However, what happens in those more common instances where you have a sudden vacancy? Perhaps a staff member has been called to jury duty or needs to take leave to assist an ailing family member. What about those situations? We are smart people who know succession planning is important, but replacement planning is less pervasive and even more necessary. "Personnel Replacement Planning in College Unions: Doing More with Less" offers a process for ensuring continuity of coverage when a vacancy occurs, and these planning efforts can be applied at all levels, even for the student workforce.
Learn about new ways to achieve results. It’s no surprise that before an employee can effectively step in to fill a vacancy, ongoing training is critical. Yet on some campuses, training programs have remained the same for many years. What advances, trends, and research have been discovered that can be applied to how training is conducted in the college union? How can we go from smart to clever? The editor of Training magazine answers this question from her vantage point covering the training profession.
In a scene from “Jurassic Park,” a character calls a raptor “clever girl” when he knows he has been outsmarted and is about to be eaten. On campus, we might not need to be so wily for the sake of survival, but we do need to continue strategizing and learning if the college union idea is to endure. With that in mind, we hope you will take the concepts in this Bulletin to the next level, to initiate clever improvements and promote understanding as you start the academic year.
is the Director of Educational Programs and Resources at ACUI.
Elizabeth supervises the development of program and publication content for ACUI. She serves as managing editor of The Bulletin magazine and is the liaison to the Education Councils.