All of us know the sense of excitement and feeling of limitless potential that permeates across a college campus as a new school year begins. There is a genuine buzz as students fill classrooms, laboratories, and student centers to begin the next chapter in a journey that will shape the rest of their lives. As I begin my journey as APLU president, I feel that same excitement along with the same sense of responsibility I had as university president to not only be a good steward of my institution, but to be forward-thinking, inclusive, and innovative to maximize its full potential.
While I am brand new to this role, APLU and its members are not new to me. I know the importance and impact of public and land-grant universities because I’ve spent virtually my entire adult life studying, researching, and working at eight of them. And I know the critical role APLU plays through my active involvement with various councils and initiatives within the association over the past 20 years. Over time my engagement increased, including serving as a member of APLU’s Board of Directors and as Chair of the Board for the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, which has a permanent partnership with APLU.
The work APLU performs with and on behalf of the public and land-grant university community as well as with partner organizations and supporters is vitally important not only to its member institutions and their students, but to society at large. Fortunately, I come to the association at a time when it has reached new heights under the leadership of my friend, Peter McPherson, and the terrific team at APLU that he helped assemble.
APLU is poised to do great things in the years ahead as we continue to innovate in new or expanded areas and double-down on our core work to equitably advance the student success, research, and engagement missions of public and land-grant universities. The success of these efforts is dependent upon a highly engaged membership. The strength of APLU and its ability to advance change has and always will be through the engagement of its members on our councils, commissions, and boards; our projects and initiatives; and, of course, through our collective advocacy in Washington.
I have always found that effective leaders are skilled listeners. To prepare for this role, I have been sitting down with every single team member at APLU to learn about them and the opportunities they see for the organization. I will soon expand that process beyond our staff, starting with APLU’s Board of Directors, leaders of higher education and research organizations, and, of course, key figures on Capitol Hill and in the administration. I also want to hear from you and hope you will reach out to me to share your thoughts on how APLU can best serve you and your institution.
The passion of our staff members for APLU’s mission has been abundantly clear from the conversations that I have had with them. I appreciate Peter and APLU’s leadership for building such a dedicated and talented team. Like me, they rely on input and feedback from our members and partners so that we are constantly attuned to the issues, opportunities, and challenges that lie ahead. The better we know you, the more value we can provide and the better we can represent the shared interests of our great public research universities.
Not a day that goes by where I do not reflect on how fortunate I am to be the beneficiary of the transformative power of public higher education. I am driven by my own experiences to ensure the power of public and land-grant universities is experienced and felt by all. There is no better place to take this work to an even higher level than APLU. I look forward to embarking on this journey in partnership with you.
Mark P. Becker