CDO-To-CEO Institute 2018 Recap



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The CoopLew Inaugural Chief Diversity Officer – to – Chief Executive Officer: Making a Path to the Top: Preparing CDOs to Become CEOs, was a huge success!  

During this star-studded experience in the nation’s capital, more than 50 participants and presenters gathered to address pathways and possibilities awaiting CDOs who aspire to serve in the highest office of higher education institutions. The Institute was a practical and relevant undertaking, which involved pre-reading, networking, story-telling, and a variety of presentations that specifically addressed capstone presidential experiences (see what was covered). The energy and excitement were capped by an exclusive conversation and book signing with Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, President of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County). Eleven other nationally-recognized speakers shared personal stories about trials and triumphs throughout their respective journeys to the presidency as well as core nuggets of wisdom they attribute to their ascension from CDO to CEO. It was a true launch towards next-career steps for all participants.

We would like to thank our sponsors: The Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU), TIAA Institute, Academic Search, and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. 

2018 CDO-to-CEO Institute Take-a-ways

  • The presidency is a natural aim for today’s CDO’s because they can know a great deal about every facet of the institution before taking office.  (Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo – Former President, Northern New Mexico University) 

  • It doesn’t matter if you are a CDO or a university president, your success hinges on how you treat your people. (Juan Munoz, President, University of Houston, Downtown)

  • Presidents see their institutions quite differently than students. The CDO could be a catalyst to narrow this gap. (Lorelle Espinosa – Vice President for Research, American Council on Education)

  • To get ahead, a CDO aspiring for a presidency should strongly consider taking a role at a community college in a location that is less popular than others. (Walter Bumphus – President, American Association of Community Colleges)

  • Freedom of speech and Title X issues will be on the president’s desk for many years to come. CDOs should brace for this wave of concern, be versed in them, and prepare to assess competing risks prior to taking office. (Jerry Blakemore – General Counsel, University of North Carolina, Greensboro)

  • Fiduciary duties encompass board members responsibility for care, loyalty and obedience to institutional interests, priorities, and mission advancement. CDOs would do well if they understood how these duties are carried out at the board level. (Charlie Nelms – Former President and Former Chancellor, North Carolina Central University, University of Michigan-Flint, and Indiana University-East)

  • Fundraising does more than just acquire funds, it raises awareness of certain issues or causes and gives those issues a source for critical support. (Rob Henry – Vice President of Education, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education)

  • Doing well by our students means more than simply providing the environment for their education. It means intentionally creating a structure to advance them from one stage of development to the next in a specified amount of time, with the necessary skills to go on to advanced degrees. (Freeman Hrabowski, III – President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC))

  • The rise of the CDO at the presidential level means that finally people with direct experience with constituents from all levels of institutional life can be at the helm of important issues that shape the development of relevant, quality education. (Ricardo Fernandez – President Emeritus, Lehman College, City University of New York)

  • Accreditation is central to upholding standards of excellence among institutions, which CDOs can use to leverage diversity initiatives and innovations. (Barbara Johnson – Vice president for Accreditation Relations, The Higher Learning Commission)

  • CDOs must understand how their cover letters serve as “door openers” as opposed to summaries of their career. This is critical to aligning presence with problems facing the institution conducting its search. (Andrea Warren Hamos – Vice President, American Academic Leadership Institute)

  • There are many important concerns to address while in office as a CDO; Knowing when to leave office is one of them. (Tuajuanda Jordan – President, St. Mary’s College)

The success of the 2018 Institute garnered press for our media sponsor, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and expanded networks of all its participants. Watch for CoopLew’s announcement about the 2019 Institute!