A. Commentary: Upholding the ACBSP Promise in an Era of Unpredictability

With the beginning of the New Year, I want to start my column by first extending my best wishes to our members, your families, as well as your institutional families for health and continued fortitude in what can only be described as an era of unpredictability.

Each of us celebrates, recognizes, or simply accepts the conclusion of one year to the next.

For many, it offers the opportunity for new aspirations, often referred to as resolutions, such as an improved diet or an increased focus on fitness with hopes that our efforts can improve our own lives.

Certainly, no one could have predicted the impact the virus would have throughout the past year.

It is hope that the world depends on for joy in times of despair and challenge. And, it is hope that will get us through the pandemic.

The Start of a New Decade

The ACBSP Board of Directors last met in-person during the final weekend of February 2020 in Kansas City. The host hotel was brimming with incoming guests along with a buzzing vibe throughout the lobby bar and restaurant.

The organization was coming off of another solid financial year. A new budget was approved along with plans for numerous new initiatives to serve our members and increase our impact, recognition, and prestige.

The start of a new decade was being met with excitement and dare I repeat…hope.

Immediately after the Board meeting, I flew to Seattle for the League for Innovation (in the Community College) Annual Conference. It was while attending that conference that word began to spread about the virus and how some nursing home residents had passed away in the area after contracting COVID-19.

I returned home on Tuesday, March 9.

The following day, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the suspension of the 2019-2020 professional basketball season after a player on the Utah Jazz had tested positive for coronavirus, and our lives would never be the same.

By the next day, the National Hockey League had also suspended its season soon to be followed by other professional and amateur sports, including the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tourneys, along with a barrage of other postponements and cancellations.

It is difficult to fathom the impact the virus has had on our personal lives, including the management and operations of institutions of higher learning.

I have personally lost several ACBSP friends and know of a number of people within my professional life who have passed away. If your life has also been impacted in this way, I am sending my prayers for strength and comfort.

Life will never be the same, however, I have been so impressed by the courage, resilience, and ingenuity of our members to serve their students in ways perhaps previously never even imagined.

The global pandemic has forced all aspects of life to undergo a myriad of changes that require new ways of communications, strategy, and cooperation. Plans had to be discarded and new ones contemplated if we were to survive in a business sense.

Simply put, we are all witnesses to a transformational change in higher education and this is only the beginning. That includes the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Like its members, the spring always is a busy time of year for our organization.

As a respected global accreditor, ACBSP has members in more than 60 countries throughout the world. These relationships are grown and enhanced by our willingness to travel the world to meet with our members and prospects face-to-face.

A Commitment to Serving our Members

Like all of you, we have been living in a bubble of worsening news every day about COVID-19. The most important thing has always been the health and safety of our professional team and our volunteer leaders.

Throughout the past 10 months, the home office has gone through numerous office closures and re-openings depending on the workload. After closing the office in December, we have now returned and are working in split shifts along with wearing masks at all times whenever outside of our own personal space.

I believe we have been very successful in creating services and programs to best serve our members and we continue to brainstorm for the future.

Last year, we were able to successfully transition every planned in-person event to a virtual format. That includes the Annual Conference, Regional Fall Conferences, and Access Accreditation Workshops.

We also created an immensely popular Teaching Effectiveness Webinar Series. With a generous sponsorship provided by our friends at Peregrine Global Services, we have been able to offer the webinars free of charge and will continue to do so.

In all, we received nearly 6,000 registrations for ACBSP events during the past year, so I believe the results speak for themselves and I encourage you and your colleagues to take advantage of our many offerings. Many of the programs have been recorded and can be downloaded from acbsp.org/webinars.

In addition, in consultation with our Boards of Commissioners, and with approval from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), we will continue with virtual site evaluations.

ACBSP Conference 2021

Another important decision that has to be made is the status of ACBSP Conference 2021 scheduled for June 25-28, in Miami, FL.

 While there remains so much uncertainty, the ACBSP Board of Directors is being proactive to alleviate any concerns our members might have about the event.

At this time, I can report that it is our intention for the conference to be our first in-person event in 2021. We are cognizant that many members, particularly those outside of the United States, still have travel prohibitions in place; which is why there will also be a virtual component to the conference as well so all members can participate in this highly anticipated event.

A lot might change during the next month or two and you can be assured that we will keep our members informed every step of the way. For those who know for sure they intend to come to Miami, please note the registration portal for annual conference is not open at this time and we will include that announcement with the forthcoming updates.

BTW, the Call for Presentations is ongoing through the month with the conference theme of “Developing Business Leaders for a Better Tomorrow.”

We Will Get Past This

We value your support as we all face these challenges together. If you ever have any questions or if there are other ways in which we might assist you or resources we might provide, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to our Board Chair, Dr. Bruce Stetar, of Western Governors University. Bruce has responded to world events with calmness, dedication and creativity. Our organization has no doubt been the beneficiary of his exceptional leadership.

I will conclude by reiterating my comments from my last column…When we get past this—and we will get past this—you will have a multitude of examples of ways in which you responded in a careful, effective way, ensuring that your students’ education and experiences go uninterrupted.

Your efforts continue to be nothing short of heroic and ACBSP remains honored to stand with you.

To connect with President Alderman, please email him at jalderman@acbsp.org.