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Seizing an opportunity

Photo courtesy of Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures:

Photo courtesy of Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures:

Just when I was getting used to being a tenured, associate professor…


I have agreed to serve my current university, Virginia Commonwealth University, as the Director of Online Academic Programs.1 This is an interim, one year appointment, and I begin, officially, July 25.

As I’ve been talking about this professional move with friends and colleagues, the word that comes up repeatedly is “opportunity.” This is effectively a new position and a new office2 for the university. So, there’s an office and a staff to build. Also, I spent a considerable amount of time in the Spring 2013 semester working as a member of the Strategic Plan Task Force for Online Education. That task force sent a report to the provost that I was proud of and that the provost told me personally was one of the best reports she has read since becoming provost. There are a set of general and strategic recommendations in that report that will need to be implemented, and I will have an opportunity (there’s that word) to work across the university to implement those recommendations.

The most exciting aspect of this position for me is that I will have the opportunity (*ahem*) to work with some incredible people3. I will be working side-by-side with Jeff Nugent who has become a friend and trusted colleague in recent years. Jeff’s leadership of the Strategic Plan Task Force for Online Education was masterful. I have joked that in his capacity as special advisor to the provost, Jeff has become a cat herder and an alligator wrestler. What’s not a joke is how he has done that work with uncommon grace and skill.  I really look forward to working with Jeff and in partnership with his colleagues in the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Additionally, Jeff and I will get to work with/for our new Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success, Gardner Campbell. I’ve long admired Gardner’s work as an academic and a technologist. If you haven’t seen Gardner’s keynote presentation from OpenEd this past fall, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Jeff, Gardner and I have already had a few forward-thinking conversations and I’ve walked away from each of those with an extra hop in my step.

Though I haven’t been able to find the actual source, the quote “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity” is attributed to Henry Hartman. I feel like I have been preparing for this leadership position for a long time and there is lots of support for the Office of Online Education at every level of the university administration.   Preparation meets opportunity. Onward.

  1. Yes, that’s correct, I’ll be the DOAP of VCU. []
  2. Physically, the office is brand-spanking new. The Office of Online Education is located inside VCU’s newest academic building which formally opens this fall. []
  3. I should note that I’ve been very fortunate to work with some fantastic colleagues in the Department of Educational Leadership at VCU for the last 6 years. Truly, I will miss working with those folks on a daily basis moving forward. []

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4 Responses to “Seizing an opportunity”

  1. Stuart Ciske says:

    Wow. What a fantastic opportunity to build from the round up, with a supportive administration to boot. Congrats on the new assignment and NEW office. I am sure many of your PLN will have good advice for you on this move, whether you want it or not!

    My advice: get new hardware for yourself at least every two years! And replace that cracked phone if you haven’t already!


  2. Congratulations on your new opportunity, Jon. I look forward to continue following you on this blog and via twitter as you settle into your new role for the upcoming year.

  3. Congratulations on the new direction, Jon! In my experience, “opportunities” come with a side of difficulty, sprinkled with humble pie, and always end up leaving me refreshed and thankful when all is said and done.

    Creating a new department and program is an exciting opportunity, indeed! The trick is to succeed at solving the problems of today by building an organization pliable enough to work tomorrow, as well. VCU is in good hands.

  4. [...] Commonwealth University can boast two incredible educators in newly-appointed leadership positions: Gardner Campbell will become Vice Provost for Learning [...]

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