I have conditioned my boss to ask, "what is the experience of the other PCUAD members on this?"
An alumni executive in the Association of Private College & University Alumni Directors (PCUAD) sent this to me in response to my query about the value of "communities of practice" (CoPs). For decades the primary organization for alumni professionals has been CASE: the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in Washington, DC. CASE represents advancement in its broad sense: alumni, development, and communications professionals in higher education and independent secondary schools.
Meanwhile, alumni professionals are investing time and effort in smaller communities of practice, groups of similar institutions with whom it makes sense to benchmark and to share ideas. The groups' acronyms are a Scrabble player's dream...PCUAD, SCICAP, NEAR, SCAD and more (the full names of these groups are listed at the end of this posting). While CoPs like these have existed for a long time, lately they seem to be picking up steam.
CASE's strongest suit may be its scale: the sheer number of members and participating institutions represents a tremendous wealth of experience and expertise. Furthermore, CASE advocates on our behalf when there are legislative or policy issues that affect support for higher education.
But the CoPs are positioned to take advantage of their members' unique characteristics. In an upcoming issue of Currents magazine, RIT's executive director of alumni relations Kelly Redder writes about one CoP's contribution to its members' effectiveness: benchmarking among like institutions. In an upcoming post on Alumni Futures I'll highlight Kelly's comments and try to spur some thinking about the value of CoPs for your own work.
- How will CoPs influence CASE's role in the future?
- Might CASE become a hub for functional CoPs, instead of an expansive core for the profession?
While CASE remains dominant as the umbrella, CoPs seem to grow in number, sophistication and specialization. CoPs are capable of feeding innovation and improvements in practice to CASE, and it will be CASE's job in that instance to spread the word through the professions.
Alphabet Soup - A few Communities of Practice:
PCUAD: Association of Private College & University Alumni Directors
NEAR: North East Alumni Relations
SCAD: Small College Alumni Directors
SCICAP: Southern California Independent College Alumni Programs
(There are numerous other groups organized by region, athletic conference and institutional type as well. Tell us about the ones you belong to by leaving a comment.)