Arkansas State University - Newport

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February 2020

ASU-Newport launches leadership program to allow employees unique opportunity for growth

Student success, institutional excellence and community engagement are the three pillars of Arkansas State University-Newport’s goals and initiatives. Students come to us to help map out their futures, as an institution, we too must plan for our success. To ensure institutional excellence with emphasis on employee recruitment, retention, diversity and professional development, ASU-Newport launched its own leadership program in October 2019.

The Aviator Leadership Program is a phase of ASUN’s new ACE Leadership Training Program. The four phases include an expanded employee onboarding process, culture training, the Aviator Leadership Program and succession planning.

With direction from Ike Wheeler, Vice Chancellor for Leadership and Community Engagement, and Veronica Manning, Dean of Student Development, the Aviator Leadership Program offers employees an opportunity to grow as leaders and develop skills to soar in their careers. This yearlong program focuses on building a better understanding of ASUN’s strategic priorities, vision, mission, values and attributes of effective leadership.

The program’s curriculum, based on the American Association of Community Colleges' competencies for community college leaders, focuses on leadership at the campus, community, and state levels. Employees from different campuses, departments and positions comprise the cohort. This multi-department and multi-divisional approach is designed to provide exposure, inform and cultivate a culture of community.

Participants are given a range of opportunities to learn from community leaders and ASUN senior leadership. Since the first meeting in October, participants have learned about Jackson County from Jon Chadwell, Executive Director for the Newport Economic Development Commission. The class traveled to Little Rock to attend an ASU System Board of Trustees meeting to gain knowledge on governance and legislation. They also met with representatives from Arkansas Community Colleges to learn how ASUN impacts larger state and regional economic and educational communities. Future sessions will focus on communication and collaboration. ASUN senior leadership will be this month’s guest speakers focusing on student success, institutional infrastructure and institutional leadership.

The program encompasses team projects, as well as readings and discussions from the book "Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown. In May, we will have our first “graduates” from the Aviator Leadership Program.

“The program has allowed participants to make great improvements in their professional and personal lives,” said Manning. “The AACC competencies provide great self-assessment and direction for emerging leaders. Inviting guest leaders from the campus and community gives participants an expanded view of the responsibilities and exemplary leadership practices of a variety of arenas. Experiencing leadership at the system and state level was inspirational for all participants and an integral part of the program. The "Dare to Lead" discussions have exceeded everyone’s expectations of vulnerability and courage. Participants are diving deep in the principles of daring leadership and engaging in open and honest conversations that will help our institution grow and flourish in the new decade.”

Wheeler added that he is confident the Aviator Leadership Program is providing a professional development opportunity for our employees that is unlike anything else.

“Leadership is that most valuable of assets which is truly at the core of any organization,” Wheeler said. “ASU-Newport, like many institutions throughout the United States and beyond, has an abiding obligation to foster and encourage young and emerging team members to find ‘their very best selves.’ The Aviator Leadership Program is designed to offer specialized training and exposure to individuals that will not only showcase the institution as well as the surrounding service areas, but also allow participants a taste into leadership roles and responsibilities while working within the American Association of Community College Competencies for Emerging Leaders. There is something truly amazing to see the energy and creativity fostered in the ideas and mindsets of participants in tackling issues of institutional concern. The dialogue is fresh and lively, while the exchange and banter amazingly stimulating. Throughout this interchange, the birth of not only ideas but fresh leadership perspectives emerge. This ultimately is the goal of the Aviator Leadership Program; to not only foster individuals but plant seeds of creativity and address issues that will positively impact ASUN currently and in the decades to come.”

ASUN’s students and community partners are vital to our success, but we need bold and passionate employees so that we can help our students and community members reach their goals. This is an investment in our employees and the future of ASU-Newport.