Starting the New Academic Year with Purpose

Below is a letter that was e-mailed to all Jersey Alliance members on September 11th 2012.

Hello Jersey Alliance Members!

I am thrilled to be reaching out to everyone as we start this new academic year. The Jersey Alliance is still feeling the momentum from the Big Ideas in Higher Ed Conference this past May! We are in a new place as an organization. This past July, the executive board met to do some serious reflection regarding the purpose of our organization. We have wiped away the lengthy mission statement, and decided that our mission can be summarized simply in 6 words: Change Student Affairs, Change the World. We started as a state association, and hope to grow into a professional community of “game-changers”. In addition to the thoughtful introspection that occurred, we spent time crafting three action oriented goals that will help the organization go after this ambitious new mission. Below is a brief explanation, and how they apply to you.

  • Membership Involvement: Providing opportunities for members to get involved is of great importance to me and all members of the executive board. This month, we are working on building “job descriptions” for members to be able to take on manageable and valuable contributions in their own unique way. An example may look like this: The treasurer has a “finance team” and on that finance team might be someone interested in coming up with new ideas for fundraising, or someone looking for new sponsors that can help support programs/events. This is just one example- there will be teams that thematically fall under each of the exec board positions. These roles would be fulfilled by members! The week of September 24th we will be promoting all of the teams/roles to our membership so that you can get involved as a member in The Jersey Alliance. We hope that this new offering of opportunities will fulfill the interests of our members, and ultimately engage everyone in our mission to Change Student Affairs, Change the World. We have a few opportunities you can get involved in that are more general and listed them here for anyone looking to jump in right away!
  • Unconventional Programming: We believe in professional development programming that is driven by experts and experiences (more explained in this blog post). We also believe in sharing the expertise we possess as college educators with other industries (more explained here). The organization is working on a programming curriculum chalked full of unique experiences with experts in and outside of our industry. We will look to make the most of our awesome location and hope to offer some trips into NYC or Philadelphia to experience things that will in turn help us in our role in higher education as well as our jobs on respective campuses. Examples include:
  • A trip into NYC for a crowd-sourcing workshop, to see how crowd-sourcing principles could make us more resourceful and drive creative solutions in our work.
  •   A fresh take on the traditional communication workshop with presentations/workshops from a Stand Up Comedian and Hostage Negotiator.
  •   Sharing “call for programs” opportunities for conferences outside of Higher Education so that members are able to share expertise with the world and draw attention to the hard work we are doing in this field.

These are just a few ideas, but we need members that are willing to spearhead ideas or come up with new ones.

  •  Emphasis on Digital Resources/Community: Twenty years ago a professional community made up of educators from all over the state, country or world would not have been as feasible as it is today. We want to leverage the technology that exists to engage as many change agents in this field as possible. The biggest difference you all will see over the next few months is an overhaul of our website. We are working to make our website a hub for our members and those interested in the organization. This will be a gradual launch with the hopes of having a barebones version of the new website available in early October. Over time the plan is to add a member’s only section of the site with a forum, resource library, job postings (provided by members), and other member’s only information. We also plan to have an event calendar that can be viewed and synched by all visitors of the site, but members will be able to add their own events to the site (woohoo!).

We have laid it all out on the line. This is the direction we’re moving in, and the purpose driving the organization. Now it’s time to hear from you. What reactions do you have to anything we outlined in the e-mail? What excites you? What bothers you? What ideas do you have? Simply reply to this e-mail and we will be excited to hear from you. We have more to come in a few weeks when we send out several new opportunities for everyone to join the movement and get involved. Oh yeh and one more thing, in that e-mail we’ll also tell you about a new initiative that includes sending a “Burger King style” crown to a deserving colleague 🙂 Stay tuned! Here’s to a new year, new possibilities and big dreams!

Take care,
Courtney O’Connell
President, The Jersey Alliance


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