Cal Poly Pomona will host a higher education leader this year as she studies the university’s work in government and external relations, strategic initiative setting and implementation to gain insights she can take back to her home institution.
For the 2015-2016 academic year, Monique L. Snowden, vice president for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness at Fielding Graduate University, will be an American Council on Education Fellow at Cal Poly Pomona. She will shadow various campus leaders, including President Soraya M. Coley, to learn how the university operates and study different leadership styles.
The ACE Fellowship Program is intended to enhance participants’ ability to take on real-world challenges and address the capacity building needs of their home institution.
Having a background in both public and private higher education, Snowden wants to continue broadening her understanding of how universities stay aligned with their missions.
“I think that it’s absolutely important to attain an understanding of different institutional types: public, private, small, large, and those with different missions,” Snowden says. “I think that yields a toolkit which allows you to think about not only the issues, but institutional values.
“Developing a broader viewpoint allows us to be more appreciative of an institution and rather than being critical.”
Snowden earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from Texas A&M University, and says that this gave her an appreciation for schools with a unique mission, like a polytechnic, who want students to attain practical skills that enable them to start a career after graduation.
She says that President Coley’s beacon statement says it best: Student-centered, faculty- and staff-focused, and community-minded.
“I listen to those words with a deep understanding from an aspect of being in higher education for more than two decades,” she says. “I think some people listen to those words and think that they are just words, but this is the core of what we do.”
She has a specific interest in how Cal Poly Pomona has created relationships to be well situated within the local community, the state and nationally.
“The fellowship is about reflection,” she says. “Thinking about where we’ve been, how we’ve gotten to where we are, and trying to better understand where we want to go, and more importantly, not only how we’ll get there, but what type of relationships we want to cultivate along the way.”
Snowden says that while many people think leadership skills come naturally, it’s something that people take a lifetime to work on.
“Some of the most effective leaders that I know are the ones that put others first,” she says. “The work gets done, but thinking about how you create an environment for people to collaborate, to be empathetic, to value and respect what other people bring to the table has to be an intentional effort.”
While at Cal Poly Pomona, Snowden will continue at Fielding Graduate University, as well as work with EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology.