Scott Beard Leadership Circle

Leadership Development Circle
Class of 2024: July 23-26
Hosted by Sonoma State

COPLAC institutions have a different set of contexts for leadership than any other sector of American higher education. Our size and mission often separate us from larger public institutions, and our public focus, governance structure, and funding models often separate us from similarly sized private institutions. COPLAC campuses face similar needs and challenges in identifying, developing, and recruiting academic leaders who can make a compelling case for the public liberal arts mission. To promote leadership capacity at our individual institutions and within the public liberal arts sector of higher education, COPLAC will host a three-day professional development workshop in July 2024 for early- to mid-career department chairs/program directors, including prospective chairs, at COPLAC member institutions. Participants will be able to engage with COPLAC peers to address common challenges, develop professional networks, share resources, and build decision-making strategies.

“This is an extraordinarily difficult time to be a leader in Higher Ed. The opportunity to have these conversations was valuable for me as an individual to have a sense that I am on the right track.”
2021 BLC Participant

Our format of intensive, problem-based workshops allows participants to focus on issues COPLAC administrators have identified as crucial. Senior COPLAC administrators facilitate workshop sessions as well as mentor attendees. The Leadership Circle fosters a leadership network within public liberal arts colleges. The next BLC starts in spring 2024 with virtual meetings to build relationships, discuss a case study, and foster the sharing of ideas and models for decision marking, mentoring, and leading.  Participants will meet in person for 3 days in summer 2024, and mentoring will continue into the 2024 - 25 academic year with ongoing virtual meetings for the cohort. 

CAOs will nominate participants in early 2024.  The BLC Planning Group particularly invites the nomination of chairs/faculty from underrepresented populations.

“I think as a result of the activities at the circle and throughout the year I am much more disciplined in controlling my defensive reflexes and instead of saying “we can’t” to say “yes; how?”
2021 BLC Participant

Before his sudden death in 2021, Scott Beard (Provost, Shepherd University) served COPLAC as an At-Large Member of the Executive Committee, as the Chair of the working group that developed the Online Course Sharing Guidelines and registration form, as a member of the Membership Committee, and as an active member of the Leadership Circle Planning Team. In all these roles, we valued Scott’s intellectual contributions, his organizational skills, and his administrative acumen. Just as importantly, we benefited from his humor, his spontaneous singing, his collegiality, and his commitment to COPLAC and its mission to promote affordable, public access to a liberal arts based education.

This initiative has been renamed the Scott Beard Leadership Circle to honor Scott’s contributing his time in planning, writing case studies, and mentoring deans, associate deans, associate provosts.

2023 Frequently asked questions

How do I sign up for this?
Participants must be nominated by their Chief Academic Officer. If you are interested in attending, please contact your CAO.
When does the airport shuttle run?
Sonoma County Airport Express runs regularly from each of the regional airports (SFO, OAK, and STS). The schedule varies by airport, be sure to review the schedule for the last pick up time of every day and read the pickup location instructions carefully. Tickets are available for purchase online (only), cost is $38 each way. The shuttle drops off in Rohnert Park at the Double Tree Hotel, a quick 4 mile Lyft or Uber ride to Sonoma State University.
What does the schedule look like?
The group will meet virtually a couple of times in spring 2023, leading up to the three-day, in-person workshop in July. At the workshop, there will be a mix of plenary and smaller breakout sessions, with Wednesday evening providing a chance to explore Sonoma County. A final schedule will be shared ahead of time! Opportunities for continued virtual conversations will continue throughout the following academic year. See the schedule for last year’s event here.
How accessible are your campus and facilities?
Campus facilities are generally accessible. The residence hall is a ten minute walk to the meeting rooms, and golf cart rides can be provided if needed. Many of the Beaujolais Village rooms are accessed by stairs, but ground floor rooms are available upon request.
What is the residence hall like?
Beaujolais Village is in a nicely landscaped area off the main campus road. You will have your own bedroom and a private bathroom in a shared suite with up to three other Leadership Circle attendees. There will be a conference representative at check-in available to answer questions or address any issues you may have.
What meals are provided?
Reception and dinner Tuesday; breakfast, lunch, and breaks Wednesday and Thursday, with a closing dinner on Thursday. (Wednesday dinner is on-your-own and Friday breakfast is on-your-own while traveling.)
Do I need to prepare for the Beard Leadership Circle?
Participants will be asked to respond to several Case Studies and read others' responses before discussing during the spring and summer gatherings. Short readings selected by the facilitators will be recommended in advance of the July event.
Where can I park on campus?
If you are driving yourself to the Leadership Circle, we will provide you with a parking pass at check-in. Nearby parking is available in lot R9 (closest) or lot F right next to the residence hall.
What if I need to cancel?
We do accept cancellations and can issue partial refunds up to 7 days (7/11/23) in advance of the event. If your institution nominated more than one person, you can also transfer your registration to the next nominee from your campus without any additional fee.
Will I have time to explore Wine Country?
Yes! Wednesday evening will be an opportunity to explore local dining with your colleagues. For those who choose to extend their stay, Sonoma County has an abundance of hiking, wine tasting, beer tasting, and dining to enjoy. Sonoma State University staff are happy to provide recommendations for the many choices available in the region.
Which nights have lodging provided?
Your stay in the residence hall will be on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night. If you would like to extend your stay in Sonoma County, you will need to find other accommodation as the housing office is hosting many additional summer programs. There are several options close to campus, including Double Tree by Hilton, Oxford Suites, and The Gables Inn. If you would like to venture deeper into wine country you might try the Jack London Lodge in Glen Ellen, or stay at Sonoma’s El Pueblo Inn.
What should I pack?
Dress for the Leadership Circle is casual, so no need to overpack. Sonoma County has a Mediterranean climate, warm in the day with cool evenings. It is always best to have layers to wear once the sun goes down. Check the weather forecast. Lodging is in a residence hall (Beaujolais Village); linens/towels/pillows are provided, but other amenities that a hotel might offer are not. Bring your own toiletries, alarm clock, hair dryer, etc. (Campus is also walking distance from a 7/11, for small items)