As we enter the final stretch of our academic year, we begin the rituals of spring. Holi, the flower festivals of the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and France all symbolize the feelings of excitement and anticipation we experience with the promise of a new day. Two holidays my family celebrates, Nowruz and Semana Santa, blend seamlessly with Easter, as we have grown to appreciate the value of blending our cultures and the bonding that ensues. On campus, celebrations of the success of our students, our programs, and our projects most often take place prior to traditional rituals through the simple and unceremonious act of collectively exhaling.
Exhalation is the physical process of moving air from the lungs, expelling toxins from the body, raising and then lowering our diaphragm in preparation for the equally important, life-sustaining process of inhalation. Simply stated – we breathe to survive. Breathing is an autonomic function – something we do without thinking. Breathing feels natural and rejuvenating, but disruptions sometimes occur.
For the past two years, the ordinary, somewhat predictable cycles of higher education sustained unprecedented disruptions. I stepped into my role of ACBSP Board Chair in June of 2021. Having worked in higher education for 30 years.
I thought I had seen and experienced it all. I had no way of predicting the disruptions that would follow with the aftershocks of a global pandemic. The great resignation, declaration of war in Europe, relentless economic downturns in the markets, declining enrollments, and unprecedented challenges to our mental and physical well-being, and a heightened awareness of racial and gender inequalities made my year of Chair beyond memorable.
Within the chaos and uncertainty, we discovered our superpowers. Resilience and agility became the key ingredients for success in times of challenge and uncertainty. As we reflect on our own experiences, I would like to share a few of the collective experiences that made us stronger and better as members of ACBSP.
ACBSP is in its strongest financial position ever. Our current retention rate is 99.0% (up from 97.8%). Having $1M in endowment funds, we established an investment committee. Chaired by Dr. Robert Kamkwalala of the Anheuser-Busch School of Business at Harris-Stowe University, this committee strives to secure the financial sustainability and positive growth of ACBSP resources.
Continuing with the traditions that established our presence as a global business education program accreditor, ACBSP maintains a strong presence in a unique niche of institutions whose missions and values prioritize excellence in teaching. Among those are our faith-based, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and community colleges. In April of 2022 we held a successful, in-person Access Accreditation Workshop at Bowie State University, the largest HBCU in the state of Maryland.
Prioritizing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, planning for our Inaugural Women’ Academic Leadership Summit continues. Chaired by Dr. Wanda Rutledge of New Jersey City University, Dr. Ronda Taylor of Ivy Tech Community College, and Dr. Lori Lothringer of Metropolitan Community College the Women’s Academic Leadership Summit will be a historic, global, and inclusive event. Though our initial plans ambitiously aimed for a spring 2022 in-person format, we recalibrated our goals and spread the impact. An Inspiring Women’s Pre-Conference Session will take place in Washington DC, the highlight of which will be a President’s Panel of women from ACBSP institutions. A second, in-person event with themes of Innovation, Impact, and Inclusion will take place in fall of 2023 in New Orleans, LA.
During our spring Board of Directors Meeting held recently in Omaha, ACBSP President and CEO Jeffrey Alderman outlined a plan of strategic initiatives. Ranked near the top of ACBSP’s priorities is a commitment to students.
ACBSP remains committed to strengthening the membership and impact of Kappa Beta Delta (KBD), the international honor society created to highlight the academic achievements of students in our associate degree institutions. We are pleased to announce that KBD is implementing a digital badging system through Credly. In addition to the customary KBD Andrew V. Stevenson annual merit scholarship, ACBSP is awarding two scholarships to University of New Mexico Doña Ana Community College in memory of Professor Andy C. Saucedo, my dear friend who passed away while serving as Board Chair in 2016.
As part of my deep commitment to inclusion and ACBSP’s continued commitment to global expansion, I am happy to announce the formation of Task Force on African Member Recruitment. Led by Dr. Germain Pichop of East Central University and Dr. Ahmed Eshra of Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, members of the Task Force include past ACBSP Board Chair Dr. Anthony Negbenebor of Gardner-Web University, Dr. Robert Kamkwalala of Harris-Stowe University, and our Director of African Operations, Dr. Abraham Lincoln Owusu, headquartered in Ghana.
Finally, in honor of all those who serve on the “front lines” – our professors, I am extremely proud to report that in 2022 we will celebrate a pillar of ACBSP – Teaching Excellence by awarding every available Teaching Excellence Award, in all categories, in all regions to the outstanding educators who change lives by serving as educators in ACBSP programs. You shape lives and help change the world.
As I exhale and reflect on all we have accomplished, I am overcome by humbling feelings of gratitude, satisfying feelings of accomplishment, and empowering feelings of optimism. I embrace a new cycle of promise and uncertainties of yet another academic year.