SEC Academic Leaders Visit Mizzou

MU’s Office of the Provost Hosts Visiting Academic Leaders from SEC Universities

by Jade Elwess

In February, MU hosted 75 academic leaders and representatives for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Academic Leadership Development Program (ALDP)’s spring workshop. The leadership development program aims to prepare faculty for senior leadership positions, within the SEC and beyond.

While they were on campus, participants attended panel discussions on how MU promotes faculty success, the implementation of MizzouForward, and various leadership topics, such as working with media and government relations. While in Columbia, attendees also toured campus and athletic facilities and attended a dinner with President Mun Choi and Interim Provost Matt Martens.

“The three days of hosting the SEC ALDP program provided space for the fellows to learn and talk about issues facing current leaders in higher education,” said Candace Kuby, associate provost for faculty success. “I heard numerous times that fellows were grateful that the SEC provides a forum for academic leaders to gather and share ideas across our universities.”

ALDP fellows are chosen by each SEC institution for a one-year term. During their fellowship year, they attend fall and spring workshops hosted by different SEC universities and also participate in specific leadership development opportunities held at their home universities. An alumni fellowship is also offered for former fellows to strengthen their knowledge in a specific area of interest to them as academic leaders.

 Catherine Rymph, dean of the MU Honors College, and one of MU’s 2023-24 ALDP fellows, said she appreciated hearing information on media and government relations, because leaders rely on others in their team to provide support when faced with challenges.  

“To do our work well, we need to have excellent people in those roles, so I enjoyed hearing more about the scope of what they do,” said Rymph.

MU’s fellows attended the fall ALDP workshop at Texas A&M University in October, which included leadership panels and tours of campus and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

“Among the takeaways from the Texas workshop for me was a better understanding of how alumni engagement can be leveraged into material supports for campus development and programing, as well as a deeper appreciation of how we do the work of building campus community here at MU,” says Sheri-Marie Harrison, associate dean of graduate studies and faculty success in the College of Arts and Science and a current MU SEC ALDP fellow.

ALDP fellows Brian Houston, chair in the Department of Public Health, and Jennifer Fellabaum-Toston, senior associate dean of student success and academic affairs in the College of Education & Human Development, agreed that visiting another university in the fall gave them a new appreciation of how all of the SEC institutions have similar academic challenges to address, despite the differences in size or campus culture.

MU’s ALDP fellows said they hope the visiting fellows found similar benefit from their time at Mizzou.

“I hope the ALDP fellows took away from the spring workshop strategies for faculty recruitment and retention, and where relevant, skills for building successful relationships with their state legislators and the media that support the research and teaching missions of their institutions,” Harrison said.

She says that one of her favorite things about working at Mizzou is the encouragement she has received to participate in professional development. The SEC ALDP fosters a similar community of cohorts that supports leadership growth in one another.

Fellabaum-Toston encourages other MU faculty to apply for the 2024-25 cohort.

“If you are an academic leader considering your next steps or you are interested in stepping into these roles in the future, submit an application!” she said. “The structure of this leadership development program is a bit unique given the onsite exploration of other campuses in combination with the regular on-campus discussions with your [university] cohort.”

“Probably the best part of this program has been the opportunity to develop stronger connections with a small group of leaders here at Mizzou,” Houston said. “The Mizzou cohort for the SEC ALDP is fantastic, and I’m lucky to be a part of it.”

The application for next year’s ALDP fellows is available online and must be submitted to the Office of the Provost by noon on April 12.