Dorsey Spencer Jr.
April 6, 2018
I would first like to say thank you to the NASPA Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community (SLPKC) leadership for selecting me for the Professional Development sponsorship funded by On-Campus Marketing (OCM). It is amazing that the Knowledge Community can offer this kind of support for its members. The sponsorship assisted with alleviating some of the financial burden of attending the conference. Attending NASPA 2018 Annual Conference afforded me the opportunity to connect with colleagues from various institutions and meet many new ones.
While attending the conference, I had the chance to meet one of the outgoing KC Chairs, Kim Kushner and the Chair-Elect, Sean Ryan at a KC training. It was great to meet them in person. During the training they mentioned the great things they are doing with the Knowledge Community, some of which I was aware and other things not as much. One item that stood out was the podcasts. The themes of the segments vary but topics have included Complexity Leadership and Executive Leadership. The podcasts provide another outlet for KC members to further their knowledge regarding leadership.
At my institution, I teach a leadership course in our undergraduate leadership certificate program. Leadership is also my primary research interest area. I was particularly excited to attend the conference to meet and talk with other leadership educators and listen to the various presenters in the SLPKC-related conference sessions. I hoped to expand my understanding of current and emerging trends and best practices within student leadership learning. There were a number of great sessions.
One in particular that stood out was on dominant culture in leadership programs. The session was titled “Examining Dominant Culture Narratives in College Student Leadership Programs” by Vernon A. Wall. The main focus of the presentation was the need to cultivate critical perspectives within leadership theory. The rational for this shift was exhibited in a quote shown during the presentation. It stated “Critical perspectives in leadership challenge normative assumptions in an attempt to transform our relationships, communities, organizations, and society to better reflect the values of equity and justice” (Dugan, 2017). As higher education and the United States become increasingly diverse, I believe this idea is timely and necessary. The session also gave the attendees the opportunity to assess their own leadership programs and initiatives commitment to social justice. Overall, this presentation was very insightful. There were several ideas from this session that I am contemplating adapting to my own work.
While there were many amazing and informative sessions during the conference, there are still some opportunities for growth. One area that should be explored more and presented is the connection between leader and identity. For example, what does it mean to be Black and male and a leader? What is more is how do leadership educators account for a student’s intersectionality to optimally enhance the development of their leader identity, capacity, and efficacy? There were a couple of sessions that touched on this topic, I had hope there would be more exploring a variety of identities. This is of particular importance to me because I teach a Black male leadership course but I believe the sharing of current trends, research, and relevant best practices would be beneficial for countless professionals. It would be great to see more sessions and perhaps a pre-con on variations of this topic. I, for one am open to collaborating with anyone who is interested in this subject.
Again, I would like to thank the NASPA Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community for supporting my professional development and the furthering of my understanding of student leadership learning. I hope this opportunity will continue for future national conferences and that it is as beneficial to future winners as it was for me. I am looking forward to all of the great things the KC will do over the next year.
-Dorsey Spencer Jr.
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