For the third year in a row, I was invited to the Presidents’ Leadership Conference, jointly sponsored by the President of the University and the Student Government President. Student leaders invite administrators whom they wish to engage in discussion about campus issues. The format is a weekend retreat, held this year at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. The setting is very beautiful and conducive to openness and creativity.
On Friday night, the students prepared dinner in the condo units (pringles, spaghetti, chips ahoy cookies) and then brainstormed issues on campus that students were concerned about. On Saturday morning, we had a series of presentations: academic update by the Provost, possibilities for Deacon Village, diversity check, and future of technology for WFU students. I gained lots of good insights from the latter and felt gratified that students feel the library is a leader on campus for things like collaborative technology, Google Docs, blogs, Smart Boards, training, etc. Students showed receptivity to the idea of e-books (especially for textbooks) and confessed that if a journal isn’t electronic, it isn’t worth having. One student lamented there weren’t enough e-journals linked from the MLA database.
At lunch, President Hatch shared his insights on leadership in general, and then how he applied them to Wake Forest. We had free time Saturday afternoon so my suitemate Nancy Crouch and I took a walk around the resort and then I watched a lousy football game (no comment). Saturday night we were back at it, choosing an issue from Friday night and then crafting a solution.
On Sunday morning, each group presented their identified problem and proposed solution. They were amazingly creative!
1) Bike paths both on and off campus
2) Group lunches between students and university leaders
3) Fostering class identity and unity (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th year) to build community
4) Pro Humanitate community service honor roll
5) Friday/Saturday night social programming as an alternative to “partying” (my group)
I was very glad to be a part of the group and got to know a number of student leaders that I had not yet met. One guy came up to me at the end and thanked me for all the changes in the library and how much he enjoyed them. That was worth the weekend, right there.