Moving Beyond the Obvious in Our Careers

Reflections from Dr. Bruce Walker (former LEM faculty)

Bruce Walker

Bruce Walker

So, I bought a power washer. According to the list of warnings, apparently I am not to point the power wand at my face because it might injure my eyes. “Really? You have to warn people not to do this,” I thought to myself. It seems so obvious that you shouldn’t point a wand at your face that is spewing water at 220 psi. Apparently there are more things that will put your eye out than even our mothers knew about. Now the list includes a BB gun, scissors, knife, pointed stick, and a power washer. The point is that the obvious changes over time.

If you have resigned yourself to a career driven solely by the obvious, then you have several good reasons not to sign up for the Leadership in Enrollment Management certificate program. Here is a list of the top three…all true and all obvious:

1) One can have a career in College Admissions without this additional education;

2) It requires a financial investment;

3) It is time consuming.

Over my 40 years in College Admissions the one quality in a staff member that I valued above all others was the burning desire to be a lifelong learner. All of us have had plenty of staff members with a great grasp of the obvious but if that is all one gets from the staff, then nothing gets better, innovation doesn’t happen, environmental change isn’t recognized and your President gets restless and begins to look for someone with more modern thoughts. Yes, it is obvious that you can have a career in College Admissions without continuing education but the risk of becoming irrelevant increases over time. Very soon the “new obvious” will be that one can’t advance to leadership roles in our profession without extensive training in Enrollment Management.

Dr. Lucido and I talked many times about how to retain and then pass on cumulative knowledge of Enrollment Management as retirements happened among our most experienced leaders. We had a shared dream of a rigorous educational program for professionals who want to be leaders in Enrollment Management…taught by current professionals who have proven leadership records. (This is not to imply that others didn’t share this dream but to simply acknowledge that this topic came up regularly in conversations between Jerry and me.)

Thankfully, Dr. Lucido is the type of leader who was courageous enough to move beyond the obvious obstacles. Through a lot of hard work and partnerships with leaders and scholars within and without our profession, Leadership in Enrollment Management at the University of Southern California was born. The dream had come true! Did Dr. Lucido make an important investment in your future and the future of our profession? You bet he did! It costs money to produce an online educational program of this high quality. Your tuition isn’t just about your education but about preserving this program for future aspiring leaders in Enrollment Management. The hard lifting has been done and you have a clear example of how determined professionals can move beyond the obvious obstacles to accomplish an important goal.

The students who have gone through the program over the past three years have had remarkable dedication to getting better and sharing their own experiences with their fellow students. They were all fully employed and could have gracefully and without recrimination, declined participation based on the obvious fact that they didn’t have the time. That is not what they did! They were determined to move beyond the obvious in order to improve as a professional. I not only taught, but I also learned from these students. They were bright, experienced, willing to share and completely engaged in the curriculum. Sometimes they were a bit overwhelmed by the pace of learning but by the end of the week they reported new insights into their work.

I have never met Dr. Wendy Marshall in person but I have traded many emails and text messages with her over the past three years. Students and faculty members alike have benefited greatly from her guiding hand as we made our way through the mechanics of online learning. Dr. Marshall is a highly trained professional in delivering online learning. I know that I could not have been an effective teacher without her cheerleading and technical expertise. She took our lesson plans and made them come alive for the students. First-class support for both faculty and students is a hallmark of this program.

I am moving on to a more retired retirement, and I can do so with the assurance that this shared dream is in good hands with a great faculty and staff and that our profession will only get stronger as more and more students move beyond the obvious to a richer professional life. With the addition of Dr. Donald Hossler to CERPP and his new role in guiding curriculum development for the Leadership in Enrollment Management certificate program, there is even greater reason to be excited about the future of the program. If you have read anything about Enrollment Management then you have read the work of this scholar, teacher and administrator.

So, I say goodbye to friends and colleagues I have had the privilege to learn from over the past 40 years and to the students I was privileged to teach over the past 3 years. May you have the courage to move beyond the obvious challenges that you will face in your career and life.

Oh, and the warnings should have included not pointing the wand at your feet. My mother’s list of obvious things that can injure your foot needs updating. Just saying…

-June 20115