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My Presidential Qualifications

Why do I think I’m qualified to be a college president? Fair question. Here’s a first attempt at an answer.

I have enjoyed over 25 years working in higher education with a majority of that time being spent at Lake Superior College (LSC), a comprehensive community and technical college in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. During that time I have developed a strong sense of the overall importance of education to the future of our country in addition to an unwavering commitment to supporting the mission and values of community colleges. I’m currently serving as the Vice president of Technology and e-Campus at LSC.

My leadership aspirations are the culmination of my entire educational background and work experience. My career in higher education started in the classroom where I taught accounting for eleven years at research universities followed by another six years in the classroom at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota. My first administrative job came in 2001 when I was selected to serve in a newly created position as the academic Dean of Technology and Distance Learning at LSC. This position gave me significant experience in working with faculty on curriculum review and revisions while also directly managing the growth of online offerings at LSC. Serving as Chief Information Officer (CIO) helped me develop many connections with leaders at all of the institutions of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. One of the most important roles that I have played at my college is to work as an advocate for the bridge between academics and information technology. I have also been involved in building that same bridge system-wide in some of the committees and task forces that I have been appointed to by the MnSCU Office of the Chancellor. I firmly believe that academics is the engine that propels all that we do in higher education, and that the other units of the college are service providers who are needed to help support the primary academic mission.

My varied experiences in higher education create a rare confluence of skills, abilities, and interests. My years of experience as an academic dean and a faculty member qualify me to serve in the role of Chief Academic Officer (CAO). I also have the experience and expertise of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) by virtue of my service as an interim campus CFO, two accounting degrees, and 17 years of experience in the accounting classroom; all of which have helped to prepare me to fully understand the financial issues facing higher education today. I have spent the past 9 years serving as the CIO at Lake Superior College, advocating for the proper role of technology in academia. I believe that my knowledge and skill set related to the CAO, CFO, and CIO positions give me a unique opportunity to lead an innovative institution of higher learning into the future.

There’s more to the story than that, but that should give you a good idea of my qualifications for a job as campus leader.

My Presidential Aspirations

I’m not much for keeping secrets – unless they are a matter of national security or personal embarrassment – neither of which apply in this particular case.

I have recently applied for two college presidencies within MnSCU (Minnesota State College and Universities), including my current employer, Lake Superior College. In both cases I was chosen as a semi-finalist for the first round of interviews, those 50-60 minute opportunities known as “airport interviews.” In both cases I was not chosen for the second round of interviews which consist of full-day extravaganzas on the campus, meeting with all the interested parties.

In each case, my failure to secure a second interview was a major disappointment to me both personally and professionally. I feel that I was close to reaching the second round, but not close enough. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that level of failure – if ever.

I find it rather odd that most people think you need to keep your job search activities completely quiet and confidential. Feels way too much like sneaking around in the dark. I have no interest in trying to hide my aspirations for a position such as this. Becoming a college president is definitely an uphill climb for me, but I don’t give up easily. A few things that any interested party should know:

  • Lake Superior College is the best place I’ve ever worked – and it’s not even close.
  • I am not anxious to leave LSC, but would be willing to do so for the right opportunity.
  • I am an “employee at will,” which means at the will of the president. As a new president comes to the college, he will potentially bring a new “will” for the structure of the college administration. I need to make sure that I have a job and a paycheck to provide for my family.
  • I’ve told the employees in my division that it is true that I’m applying for jobs. I’ve also told them about the other reasons in this bullet list to assure them that I’m not trying to abandon ship.
  • I do have a presidential itch that I would like to scratch, if the right opportunity presents itself. Those opportunities won’t just drop into my lap; I have to go out and look for them. I will continue to apply for positions that feel like a good fit for me.
  • If I don’t achieve one of those positions, and if I have the opportunity to remain at LSC, I would be happy to do so.
  • I am NOT a disgruntled employee. As the photo attests, I am totally gruntled. 🙂

Tripping Out to the UAE

I leave April 2, 2010 for an exciting adventure to the United Arab Emirates. I’ll fly from Duluth to Dubai arriving on Saturday at 7:25 PM Dubai Time (GMT +4 hours). That looks like a bit more than 19 hours of travel time with plane changes in both Chicago and Washington, D.C.  I will be picked up in Dubai and driven by car for about 1.5 hours to reach the coastal city of Fajairah on the Gulf of Oman.

A friend of mine is now the Director (think President) of the Fujairah Colleges in the Emirate of Fujairah. We got to know each other when he worked for several years at Minnesota State University Mankato. He went to the UAE a few years ago and is now Director of both the Fujairah Women’s College and the Fujairah Men’s College.

They are bringing me to their colleges to provide a week-long series of workshops related to teaching with technology, Web 2.0, e-Learning, and other things related to technology in education. Their work/school week runs from Sunday through Thursday so I will hit the ground running (hopefully) on Sunday morning with the first workshop.

I’ve never been to this part of the world and am very excited about the whole trip. I hope to post several times from over there to share some of the things I’m learning about and some of the people I meet.

RUMOR MILL SQUELCHING: due to our recent budget cuts and the incessant rumor mill about who is doing what and why, let me clarify a few things about this trip.

  • This is not a personal trip. I am going in my official capacity as V.P. of Technology and e-Campus at Lake Superior College. I receive my normal salary for this week, with no extra nor lesser compensation.
  • The speaking fees for the workshops are all payable to Lake Superior College. The college will receive fees equal to roughly double my weekly salary.
  • All travel expenses are being paid directly by the Fujairah Colleges.
  • Any personal costs incurred while traveling are my own.

#ITC10 Tweetup – 9 PM

Join me, @NancyWhite, @jimgroom and a cast of dozens of other ITC eLearning tweeters at Jake’s Hamburgers at the corner of 5th and Main in Ft. Worth.

All we  are intending to do is have a few beverages, some adult conversation (for as long as that holds out), and maybe a few impromptu short presentations/shoutouts – maybe!!

There’s probably room for 25-30 people in the upstairs section of Jake’s. If we need to change on the fly you can expect to see an update on  ……  you guessed it, Twitter.

Map from the hotel to Jake’s. View Larger Map

Testing Windows Live Writer

I have previously used LiveWriter from Microsoft, but I just installed the newest version on my Windows 7 PC. The main purpose of this post is to test out the functionality of the blog writer and to see if the integration with my WordPress blog (the one you’re looking at right now) is working properly.

Photo embeds work properly? Let’s see.

Detroit CIT09 052

That’s a mirror shot from my recent trip to Detroit. Not very exciting, I know.

I also installed the “Live” version of Windows Movie Maker. I’ll check that out later and report back on what I find.

What I was Reading Today

Today, I was mainly reading a couple of newspapers in Vietnam. Some of the stories just jumped off the page at me. For example:

A 65-year-old- Chinese woman was sentenced to death for her role in leading a counterfeiting ring. Over the course of two years she was responsible for the equivalent of about $300,000 US in fake bank notes. So let me see if I have this straight. An Asian woman gets the death sentence for $300 thou, while in the U.S. we have liars, thieves, and greedy bastards who are getting bailed out for $700 billion in counterfeit mortgages, easy loans, and poor insurance decisions. They get nary a slap on the wrist and the taxpayers pay the freight. Yep, that sounds fair.

5 university students in Hanoi are sharing a 5 square meter single room because they cannot find affordable housing while earning their education. They are apparently developing some very close friendships during their college years.

Although this story was first reported about a year ago, the Viet Nam News had a little blurb about it yesterday. Did you know that raising kangaroos for meat consumption instead of cattle and sheep would help reduce global warming? It seems that kangaroo flatulence does not contain methane gas and would therefore be more eco-friendly.

I also finished reading the book Presentation Zen, (Garr Reynolds) which I highly recommend. More on that later.

Famous Quotes? Or Not?

This short little slide show is taken from a longer piece I did with about 320 K-12 teachers and administrators. They were using clickers to answer various questions about technology uses. This fun little segment was part of the icebreaking piece before we got down to more serious business.

I’m not trying to make fun of anyone here (although I take a well deserved shot at one of the famous quote-makers) by showing how many people believe things that aren’t true, but I am a bit amazed how easy it is to get people to believe things happened when they clearly did not. If enough people say something is true, does that make it true? Umh, no.

Disconnecting for a Week

I’m on vacation and will be mainly disconnected until August 4. R & R and all that jazz.

Postal BizzaroWorld

Stamp of Chinese sign - Redestrian WayThis morning I felt like I was trapped inside a Seinfeld episode. You basically can’t make this stuff up. On my way to work I needed to stop and get a few stamps. I rarely buy stamps, but here was a time when there weren’t any in the house and I needed some.

I stop in the Superior Post Office to buy some stamps from the machine. This is before the counter area opens for the day and they’ve always had a vending machine with stamps in the lobby where you can get what you need. I see that the machine is gone but it looks like maybe it’s only been removed for repairs since the space really hasn’t been fixed up or anything. So, I head back to my car since it is not possible to buy stamps at the Superior Post Office unless the counter is open. As I drive to work in Duluth I follow a path that comes reasonably close to the main P.O. in West Duluth so I stop in to buy from that vending machine. Once again this is before the counter opens and once again the machine has been removed. Hanging on the wall is a poster that lists about 8 places where a person can go to buy stamps “at Post Office prices.” Included are Walgreens and a couple of gas stations. So, apparently, you can no longer buy stamps at the Post Office (except during their shorter-than-banker’s-hours when the counter is open) but you can buy your stamps at the drug store or gas station. Clearly I have entered BizzaroWorld.

Please excuse the off-topic rant, but at least I feel better now.

Shopping for a New Title

LSC logo Since we’ve recently renamed our Virtual Campus at Lake Superior College, I need to come up with a new title. My current title is Vice President of Technology and the Virtual Campus. I’m also designated as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the college which puts me in the campus CIO group within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU).

I’ve never felt that CIO is a very good descriptor for the work I do. I’m not responsible for information in all its forms, especially not for public information and not even for student record information and the like. I heard back from the MnSCU CIO that there is no requirement to use the CIO designator so I would like to start using the designation of Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Now the question is whether CTO should be part of the new title or not. You’ll notice that CIO is not an official part of my current title, but should it be?

Here are a few possibilities:

  • Vice President of Lake Superior Connect
  • Vice President of Technology and the e-Campus
  • Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
  • Vice President of Lake Superior College e-Campus
  • Vice President of LSC e-Campus

Just to clarify, Lake Superior Connect is the name (think brand name) instead of the Virtual Campus. We are going away completely from using the term Virtual Campus. Instead we will call it an e-Campus which is more of a descriptor rather than a name.

One way of saying it to be descriptive would be to say that the new name of our e-Campus is Lake Superior Connect. Just to put one more spin on it: Lake Superior Connect is like Kleenex (brand) and e-Campus is like tissue paper (what it is).

I need help here. Which one is best?