Still time to register, June 24 Workshop for Administrators, Building New Programs

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Strategic Leadership for Christian Higher Education Administrators: Building New Programs

Lead Facilitator/PresenterKevin Schut, Trinity Western University

Roundtable DiscussantsTom Carmody, Vanguard University; Sarah Drivdahl, Northwest University; Donna Elkins, Campbellsville University; Nick Pertler, Point Loma Nazarene University

Date/Time: Monday, June 24, 2024 | 11:30 am – 3:00 pm EDT


Description: This half-day leadership workshop will feature conversations with veteran administrators at leading Christian colleges and universities. Short presentations followed by roundtable discussions and breakout sessions will be employed. The workshop concludes with an implementation session to produce individualized strategic development plans for the year ahead. This year our focus will be on a single topic: Building New Programs.

The motivations for starting a new academic program at a university can vary. Maybe a new faculty member has a unique specialization that we can leverage to build something new? Maybe more traditional programs are languishing and our institution is looking for fresh ideas? Maybe someone has identified a gap in post-secondary education and there are new opportunities to address? And, just maybe, sometimes we have a passion to build great things!?!

Whatever drives us, we will end up in a similar kind of situation: we have an idea and we need to make it a reality in our institution. Where do we begin? What are some useful practices? Is there anything we really should not overlook? Every post-secondary institution has its own procedures and regulations, of course, but administrators interested in program building can still learn important lessons from each other.

This workshop will provide a forum for people looking to build new programs. Led by Dr. Kevin Schut, creator of the Game Development program at Trinity Western University, a panel of experienced and talented administrators will share from their experiences of creating and modifying programs at their schools. We will spend time in conversation considering both the unique situations at various universities and also talk through commonly shared challenges and opportunities.

Kevin Schut (PhD, University of Iowa) is a Game Studies scholar. He is a graduate of Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI; BA in Communication Arts & Sciences, History, 1996) and the University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA; MA & PhD in Communication Studies, 2004). He wrote the book Of Games & God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games (2013). He writes about the intersection of communication, culture, media, technology and faith, primarily by talking about computer and video games. He has published articles or chapters on fantasy-role-playing computer games and masculinity, on computer games and myth, on the presentation of history in computer games, and on evangelicals and games. He is currently researching moral and ethical decisions in video games. Kevin served as the Chair of the Department of Media + Communication, and he is the Lead for the Game Development program he founded in June 2019. He has also served as Associate Dean of the School of the Arts, Media + Culture. He teaches a range of courses on media and culture. Kevin grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and still cheers for the Oilers. After graduating from Calvin College, he married and taught overseas in schools for missionary kids in the Cote d’Ivoire and Hungary for three and a half years. He has three daughters who love playing board games, adventure games, Mario Kart, and Vive Virtual Reality with him. His favorite game series is Sid Meier’s Civilization. Connect with Kevin here:

Thomas J. Carmody (PhD, Regent University) is Professor of Communication Studies at Vanguard University where he has taught for more than 30 years. His research interests span the spectrum from eighteenth to nineteenth-century sermonic rhetoric, Anglican Studies, comic books, graphic novels, film criticism. When he is not in the classroom you will find him searching the stacks of used bookstores or working in his small garden. He is also an ordained Anglican priest with the Anglican Church in North America where he ministers in a variety of ways at his local church. Connect with Tom here:

Sarah Drivdahl (PhD, Kent State University) serves as Provost and Professor of Psychology at Northwest University in Washington state. She previously served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences also at Northwest University. Her research interests focus in the area of memory, particularly in eyewitness and autobiographical memory. She has coauthored seven empirical papers and has contributed to presentations at meetings of the Psychonomics Society, Midwestern Psychological Society, and Western Psychological Association. Connect with Sarah here:

Donna Elkins (PhD, University of Kentucky) serves as Associate Vice President for Regional Administration at Campbellsville University, a Christ-focused university in the heartland of Kentucky.  She is responsible for connection and oversight at all CU regional centers and also directs the CU Technology Training Center which houses workforce development certificate programs in Cosmetology, Barbering, Esthetics, Allied Health, Limited Medical Radiography, Welding, and HVAC. Prior to joining CU, Dr. Elkins was Dean of Online Education and a Professor of Communication at Spalding University as well as Dean of Academic Affairs, former Division Chair of Humanities, and Professor of Communication at Jefferson Community and Technical College. Dr. Elkins has published book chapters, journal articles, and presentations on leadership, virtual training, teaching and research methods in communication, onboarding new employees, cancer recovery and support in the workplace, and most recently women in entrepreneurial ventures post-pandemic. In 2023 she published her first Bible study titled Redeeming Failure which several women’s church study groups have used in their curriculum. Connect with Donna here:

Nick Pertler (PhD, Duquesne University) is Associate Dean of Graduate & Professional Studies at Point Loma Nazarene University. After earning a B.A. in Communication from California State University, San Marcos (2007) and M.A. in Speech Communication from California State University, Fullerton (2009), Dr. Pertler moved to Pittsburgh, PA and completed a PhD in Rhetoric from Duquesne University (2014). With well over a decade of higher education teaching and leadership experience, he has served on the faculties of Duquesne University, Baker College and MiraCosta College. Additionally, he directs and teaches in the Strategic Communication B.A. program. His research agenda focuses on philosophy of education, the premodern rhetorical tradition, and media ecology. He has presented his work at regional and national conferences, and is currently working on moving a manuscript into publication with an academic press. Dr. Pertler and his wife Alison have five children. Connect with Nick here:

Registration Fee: $50.00


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