MURRAY, Ky. — Dr. Mi-Hwa Park, an associate professor at Murray State University in the department of early childhood and elementary education through the College of Education and Human Services, recently completed the Academic Leadership Development Institute (ALDI) as a member of the program’s inaugural cohort.
ALDI was created by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education with the objective of developing more campus leaders among early career and underrepresented minority faculty who aspire to leadership positions. The inaugural cohort consisted of 19 faculty members from two- and four-year campuses across the state, including all eight state universities and seven colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
“The ALDI overall experience was challenging, inspirational, aspirational, meaningful and worthwhile,” Park said.
The ALDI program took place over eight months and consisted of a series of workshops. Topics included changing demographics in higher education, successfully managing professional and personal demands, higher education in the state of Kentucky, dynamic leadership for changing times and reflections for moving forward. In addition to the workshops, participants completed team problem-solving projects and interviewed leaders in positions they aspire to one day. They were also encouraged to seek out mentors who could support their leadership aspirations.
“The training helped me to find out my style of leadership and reflect on possible strategies to improve my effectiveness,” Park said. “The ALDI workshops also allowed me to meet helpful leaders and colleagues — to learn about them and from them.”
Since completing the program, which concluded with a ceremony at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College at the beginning of November, Park recalled several significant takeaways from the overall experience. Among those takeaways was an understanding that it is essential for leaders to be passionate about their work and be capable of sharing and creating their visions of the future.
“Know who you are — including the strengths you believe you possess as a leader and areas of weakness or improvement — and be prepared to set yourself challenges and take small risks to become an effective leader,” Park said. “There are no office hours for leaders. Leadership is an ever-evolving position.”
Park now plans to implement her experience from the ALDI workshops by continuing to take initiative to bring out the best in her students while also conducting research and providing academic services, activities and resources to advance her discipline.
“My next step is to think and rethink what kind of leader I want to be and prepare myself to be a better person and a more effective leader in the workplace,” Park said.
Park also added her appreciation for the following individuals for their continued support of her professional endeavors: Dr. Bob Davies, president of the University; Dr. David Whaley, dean of the College of Education and Human Services; Dr. Jacqueline Hansen, chair for the department of early childhood and elementary education; Dr. Jeanetta Riley, coordinator for the interdisciplinary early childhood education program; Dr. Caroline Atkins, coordinator for the ALDI workshops and senior associate on the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; Dr. Robert King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; and her colleagues from the first ALDI cohort who consistently demonstrate ways to be more effective professors, researchers and leaders.