My first college-level course was called “A Group Theory of Politics,” which focused on the seminal works: The Governmental Process by David B. Truman and The Process of Government by Arthur F. Bentley. I recently received a letter from a trustee of a WAICU-member university urging that WAICU facilitate discussions among groups of key college officials on national educational issues and encourage sharing of best practices among our members. His letter made me realize that one of WAICU’s most important assets is virtually invisible outside of member campuses. I hope this “Independent Insights” changes that.
For nearly 25 years, WAICU has organized regular (2 to 4 times a year) meetings of 30 WAICU Groups. These groups meet under the WAICU umbrella to share knowledge and information, as well as best practices, in their respective fields. These groups (in alphabetical order) include: Academic Advising (tentative), Admission Officers, Advancement Officers, Alumni/ae Directors, Assistants to the Presidents, Business Officers, Career Development Directors, Chief Academic Officers, Chief Student Affairs Officers, Community Engagement Directors, Environmental Health and Safety Directors, Facilities Managers, Financial Aid Directors, Graduate Deans, Grant Development Directors, Health Counselors, Human Resource Directors, Information Technology Directors, Institutional Researchers, International/Study Abroad Directors, Library Directors, Multicultural Affairs Directors, Public Relations/Marketing Directors, Registrars, Residence Life Directors, Risk Management/Insurance Managers, Safety and Security Directors, Student Activities Directors, Student Health Services Directors, and Teacher Education Deans/Directors. WAICU staff serve as conveners and take responsibility for keeping the lines of communication open.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of these groups and the value added to achieving WAICU’s mission: “Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges working together for educational opportunity.” The groups are composed of officials at member campuses who bring to bear a breadth of hands-on experience and a boundless commitment and enthusiasm for the cause. These leaders are WAICU’s “eyes and ears” and—frequently—“brains.”
Someone once said to me that I was “consultation-mad” and that so many groups must lead to chaos, reducing WAICU to a “group of groups.” Just the opposite. As it says in Scripture, “. . . in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Consultation does not mean control. The strategic policymakers at WAICU are the 24 college and university presidents who constitute our Board of Directors. The presidents are the ones on their campus and across WAICU who see the broadest perspective and are “keepers of the vision” of their college or university, as well as of WAICU. However when they do decide, they have the advantage of the particular expertise refined by debate and discussion within the various WAICU Groups.
Groups are good, and WAICU Groups are great.
Rolf Wegenke, Ph.D.