Academic journal article College and University

Mentoring the Next Generation of AACRAO Leaders: Taking Advantage of Routines, Exceptions, and Challenges for Developing Leadership Skills

Academic journal article College and University

Mentoring the Next Generation of AACRAO Leaders: Taking Advantage of Routines, Exceptions, and Challenges for Developing Leadership Skills

Article excerpt

As members of enrollment management units look ahead to the next fewyears, they anticipate many institution- wide challenges: implementation of a new student information system, major upgrade of an existing system, re-configuring an existing system to reflect changes in academic policies or to accommodate new federal or state guidelines. Many of these prospective changes elicit dread - of consequent drains on basic operations, of pressures on staff, of the implications of testing new systems, and of the pressure to be "error free." This article encourages enrollment management supervisors to view these "exceptional circumstances" in a new way: as "greenhouses" for facilitating the development of leadership perspectives and as unique opportunities for mentoring. This article also is intended to serve as a resource for enrollment management staff members who might consider taking on more responsibilities - and perhaps, eventually, leadership roles within (and beyond) their current positions/departments.

In 1999, I was asked to serve as executive director of our campus transition from a home-grown, back-office product to a commercially developed, web-based student information system. The team of enrollment management members assigned to the project worked closely with information technology staff, campus members, and administrators. The result was a cultural change on our campus that prepared all of us to better adjust not only to that initial implementation but also to many subsequent changes (e.g., implementation of another student information system, change of product for our learning management and degree audit systems). Our experiences inspired an AAC rao publication focused on system implementations (Cramer 2005) as well as a chapter on the systemic aspects of such changes (Haab and Cramer 2011).

Although my experience with a full-time team is my reference point for this article, enrollment management professionals and supervisors can use my recommendations at any point in an annual cycle. Most enrollment management departments can utilize the ideas in this article for responsibilities that have a defined start, middle, and end (e.g., semester registration, communication about a new student registration or faculty grading procedure), as well as for technology implementations such as those mentioned above.

The thesis of this article is that mentoring is one of the unique opportunities that arise in the process of working on small or large "exceptional projects." Ideally, as Norton and Kaplan (2004) suggest, an institution's strategic plan will connect with the performance programs of enrollment management professionals. The following questions may be asked either by the person who will serve as a mentor or by the person who seeks to become a leader.

* Question 1: What can a mentor do to create a climate supportive of leadership aspirations and opportunities?

* Question 2: How can new challenges become self-evaluative opportunities?

* Question 3: How does one make the transition from learner to mentor or leader?

Consideration of each of these questions is designed to stimulate further conversation. Ideally, given the relative scarcity and high cost of formal mentoring programs - and the many opportunities for (and low cost of) informal ones - this article also may stimulate a commitment to informal mentoring relationships., Although not every supervisor can be an effective mentor (and not every supervisee can become a leader), this article may inspire you to think differently about yourself and those with whom you work.


For the most part, enrollment management specialists have in-depth knowledge of and experience with specific tasks in their day-to-day work. They familiarize themselves with the responsibilities required to perform their jobs. Often, this means that their only work contacts are within their own offices. …

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