Thursday, December 18, 2008

800 members strong!

Today, ASGA reached and surpassed 800 member institutions. We now have 806.

This is an amazing number, as ASGA was only launched in March 2004. We're adding more new member institutions annually, and the number is growing each year (166 so far in 2008, 164 in 2007, 158 in 2006). I predict that we could have 1,200 members by 2011.

Most higher education professional associations hover around 1,200 member schools. This seems to be the "magic number." But I think the sky is the limit for ASGA. We could have 1,500 to 2,000 member institutions.

Why is this important? The more members ASGA has, the more accurate our databases will be, as our members help us keep information on new officers and advisors curent.

More members mean more attendees at our conferences. More training of SG officers means better student governments nationwide. More members and attendees at ASGA conferences also means more resources for ASGA to improve our services for members, conduct more research, and help more colleges and universities.

It's an exciting time at ASGA, as we continue to grow and improve every day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Break

Like many people in higher education, I'm looking forward to spending time with my wife and children over the Christmas break. The time between Christmas and New Year's is about the slowest time of the year for ASGA. Most of our members are home with their families and are enjoying a break from college and from their jobs in education. The number of e-mails, calls, and live chats slows to a trickle during this period. It's very quiet at our offices in Florida.

However, just like during the summer months, most colleges and universities remain open and some administrators and staff continue to work. While mid-December to mid-January is an "off" time for most student leaders and student affairs administrators, your institution usually remains open and continues to work on projects and programs.

Student Governments should be aware of this and make sure that they're in the loop on any decisions that are being made over the holidays and summer break. It's part of staying in touch so that you can better serve your constituents.

There's little worse than coming back from a restful holiday and finding that construction has started on a new building you knew nothing about!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Working Electronically

At least two days a week, I work from my home. I take and make calls, send e-mails, answer questions from members all from my laptop in the living room at my house. My children are playing and working in the background the whole day.

Not only does working at home save money and time in traveling to the office (I live about 35 minutes away), I get to spend more time with my family! Sometimes, it gets pretty loud around here, but that's OK.

This new mode of work made me think how this could apply to student governments. So many institutions already offer on-line courses. Some, like Washington State, have a completely distance-oriented degree program. Their student government operates totally online, as their members never set foot on the campus in Pullman but are spread out across the nation. They hold their meetings online, take votes, present resolutions, do research, connect with their peers, and more, all from their computers.

Can your student government be more efficient in using technology? Perhaps some of your meetings could be replaced by online meetings. Perhaps some of your committee work could be replaced electronic reports.

I know for me, the option of working at home has been a blessing. As I write this, I'm at home listening to my children and wife work on Christmas cards and birthday cards for Gramma. I'm a part of the family, not apart.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving private help and support...

With just one more ASGA conference in 2008, our Southern California event for community colleges, I'm already turning to consulting and training at individual colleges and universities. In the past few days, ASGA has confirmed that we'll be training new officers, members, and advisors at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania, South Carolina State University, and Red Rocks Community College, all in the next few weeks. Also, we'll be helping Wesley College, Ohio Dominican University, and Lorain County Community College amend and enhance their constitutions.

December and January have become ASGA's time to serve our members individually, on their campuses. It's our chance to deal with members one-on-one and really immerse ourselves in their unique issues and challenges.

While it's a lot of travel and definitely a lot of work and brain power expended, it is also very rewarding. I look forward to the chance to serve our members.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back from Big D

Spent last weekend in Dallas at ASGA's annual Southwest Student Government Training Conference at Northwood University. It's the fourth year in a row at that same beautiful suburban location.

We brought in a new speaker, Chris Irving, for this event and his reviews were strong. It was great to catch up with Andre Koen from Minnesota (he was at last year's Dallas conference and also emceed our New Officers event in Orlando). Susan Leahy, of course, was also there.

At dinner after the conference was over, we had the deepest, most enjoyable conversation I think I've had at an ASGA conference in years. We spoke about our beliefs and faith, or lack thereof, and really delved into some sensitive areas that are normally taboo in most social conversations. I enjoyed it very much.

ASGA has been considering a "faith-based conference," knowing how many Christian-related colleges and universities there are in the nation (2,000). We have been surveying students and administrators and so far had strong positive feedback. Adding this conference would mean ASGA produces 11 events a year. With us also taking on consulting and training at individual colleges and universities throughout the year, we're on the go a lot.

But it's all worth it! I have figured out a balance between work and home, usually working at my home now instead of at my office 30 minutes away. I'm able to spend time with my wife and children while also working on ASGA business, helping our members and answering questions.

Now up to 778 member institutions! We're on pace to crack 800 members by year's end!

Monday, November 3, 2008

ASGA keeps growing and growing...

In four years, ASGA has grown from an idea to by far the largest student leadership organization in the nation.

ASGA now has 774 member institutions, plus we store information in our searchable database on every Student Government in America. Our ASGA team adds new and updated information every day.

We now produce 10 Student Government training conferences, which frankly are the most helpful and practical in the nation. Our conferences always get better, as we bring in new speakers and new and more interactive workshops and roundtables.

ASGA is the only organization that I know of that gets visibly better ever day. We literally impove every day. We add more knowledge every day. We help solve our members' problems. Everything we do improves our resources and makes ASGA more valuable to all of our members who take avantage of our support.

There is no sign that ASGA is slowing down! We're averaging 170 new member schools each year (probably closer to 200 this year). Every one of our conferences this year has attracted more attendees than the previous year. We're doing more consulting, helping members improve their constitutions and train their members.

It's an exciting time for ASGA and our members. We love serving Student Governments and helping students and administrators!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No matter how much you plan, something usually goes wrong...

Just got back from our Midwest conference in Chicago. Overall, a great experience. Largest crowd we've had there. The venue was the most convenient and most attractive yet. Set up was relatively easy. The students were attentive and willing to listen and learn.

Despite these positives, there were some negatives. My flight from Florida was delayed by weather, meaning I didn't get done setting up Friday night until well after midnight. Then the food-service provider didn't provide enough food for either the continental breakfast or the lunch for attendees. We had some hungry and, as a result, unhappy campers, so to speak, and justifiably so.

Despite all of our planning and advance work, there was nothing I could do about the delayed flight. I just sat and waited, trying to catch up on e-mail and phone calls.And on the food front, both ASGA and our host had provided the correct numbers to the caterer. They just didn't deliver on their end.

Of course, the food issue could have led to a black-eye for the conference. But I took responsibility and offered all 240 attendees a $10 off discount toward a future ASGA conference, as an apology. I think, in the end, it was OK.

What this teaches me and reminds me is that so much of our work is outside our control and influence. No matter what we do, no matter how many times we check up, and no matter how much advance planning there is, something usually goes wrong that is outside of our influence. We have no control over the catering, and certainly have no power to change air-traffic control decisions on flights leaving the southeast.

I took both issues pretty much in stride. In the past, I might have blown up and caused a scene. Either I've mellowed as I get older and more experience or I have learned to maintain more of a level head, especially over matters I don't have the power to change.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Off to Chicago!

I leave tomorrow for ASGA's Midwest conference in Chicago. It's our largest-ever "regional" conference. It will be a long weekend, but a productive one.

These conferences are where ASGA really can help our members learn and improve. It's our chance to talk with members face-to-face, get to know them, and answer their questions and help solve their problems.

While I dislike the travel part (it's a business trip, not a pleasure cruise), I do enjoy spending time with my colleagues and fellow speakers. We can catch up on each others' lives.

The best part of a conference like Chicago is seeing the evaluations at the end. How did we do? How much did they learn? What can we improve on?

I'll be back Sunday in time to spend the afternoon with my wife and children. Then it will be time to get ready for our Dallas event in early November.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Serving is on my mind...

Being a parent of five children and also a man of "faith," service is always in the forefront of my life.

Teaching and training my children means being more self-less-- giving up most of the things I did before I was married and had children. Being a good parent is about giving up time as well. It's all about serving.

My "faith" also demands that I be a servant and have a mentality of helping others all the time.

This philosophy of focusing on helping and serving others translates well to be a public servant, such as a leader in Student Government.

Student leaders often are self-serving, using their positions for personal gain as their priority over helping to improve the institution for their constituents, their fellow students. Our nation's elected "leaders" most assuredly usually base decisions on what will get them elected the next term and what will help them get more attention personally or make more money.

ASGA is trying our best to teach the importance of service to others. I attended a White House ceremony recently during which President Bush encouraged Americans to give of themselves, to volunteer 4,000 hours to their communities during their lifetimes. I endorse and support this initiative. Being a leader should be all about service.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

We're back...

Back to work today after giving it my all at ASGA's National Student Government Summit this past weekend. It was the largest event we've ever produced-- nearly 600 students and advisors from 100 colleges and universities in 38 states. It might have been the largest Student Government conference ever!

Admittedly, it is a whale of a lot of work to produce an event of this size and complexity. We had eight concurrent workshops going on, nearly 50 roundtables, two keynote speakers, and nearly two dozen talented and knowledgable speakers in attendance. What a great experience for everyone.

After we got done Sunday afternoon, and I had my final consulting appointment, we headed for the airport in plenty of time to catch our 7:35 p.m. flight. But we arrived at the gate to find out that weather had delayed our plane and we wouldn't be leaving until 10:30. I didn't get home until 2:20 a.m. Monday morning, missing the traditional frenzied "greeting" from my wife and children. The other ASGA team members didn't get home until nearly 4:00 a.m.!

Also, on the flight up to DC, I was one of the last to board my flight, based on "zones." There were no overhead bins left, so the flight attendant made me check my bag-- I thought they would bring it to me at the end of the flight, but it turns out they "checked" it like normal baggage. But it wasn't there when we arrived-- this was a mission critical bag and had our nametags, petty cash, reports, and several signs. The bag turned up a day later at the conference hotel about 30 minutes before we started our official registration!

Two problems that happened at the beginning and at the end were really the bulk of the challenges we had at this conference, despite its complexity and size. And both problems were outside of our control.

This shows me that despite all of your pre-planning, all of your work ahead to make sure everything goes well, there are things outside of our control. We can't do anything about it.

We just have to do our best and make the event or project happen despite the problems. How we react to those unexpected problems shows what we really are like as leaders.

I'm glad to be home and am spending time with my wife and children. Soon we'll be getting ready for our Chicago and Dallas conferences.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A week to go...

Yesterday, our team shipped the rest of the materials that we'll be using at our upcoming National Student Government Summit in Washington, D.C. It's the largest Student Government conference in the nation.

It takes months of planning and hard work to produce an event of this magnitude. Nearly all of ASGA's "headquarters" staff is coming to pitch in. Compared to our regional conferences, we have more than four times the number of speakers, workshops, and even days (this is a four-day conference, while our regionals are one-day events).

It was exciting yesterday to see the last of the boxes head out.

Last night, when I was with the family doing a little shopping, I noticed the time-- 7:03 p.m. I told everyone that one week from now, our conference video introduction would be playing and we would be starting the conference!

The National Student Government Summit is by far ASGA's biggest and most exciting event. And as it grows (all four years it has grown in number of participants, speakers, and workshops), it becomes more of a challenge to manage. But our team works hard and we get better at planning. We're learning all the time, just like our "constituents," Student Government leaders and advisors.

We're an organization that continually tries to grow and improve.

For those of you who are coming to DC next week, thanks. You're in for a great time and will learn a lot. See you in DC!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Transitioning well is key

Just got back from a weekend in South Carolina working with an ASGA member institution. The SGA there has a history of ineffectiveness and tons of turnover. Only five officers/members return from last year and the rest have no SGA experience.

If you're at a school like this, where SGA is basically reinvented every year, it should be a priority this year for you to work hard on "transitioning." What does this mean?

Everything you do in your position should be "captured." You should write down the time you spend on a project, the contacts you make, the difficulties you encounter, the progress you have, the enemies you make, the friends who help you, and more. Basically, you're getting a snapshot of what your job really entails and what your time committment really looks like. This will help your successor get up to speed more more quickly. He/she won't be fumbling around trying to learn what to do. You will have outlined their responsibilities and expectations already.

I see this "transition" material being stored electronically so that if you lose a notebook, all of this work won't be gone forever. Ideally, you would store this at your SGA web site, assuming you have one (if you don't have one, it's time to make that happen!). Or you could store this in your profile at the ASGA web site. ASGA stores vast data on every student government in the nation.

Remember how you felt when you came into office and didn't have a clue about what you're supposed to do next? You can make it so much easier for your successor by keeping track of all that you say, do, and work on during your term of office.

Transitioning is key to having an effective student government.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Back from the White House

Yesterday I spent the day in DC, mainly to attend President Bush's remarks on volunteerism. I have been to the White House before to see speeches (went to the Rose Garden in the mid-80s to see President Reagan and also got to interview the first George Bush). But it has been a few years.

It definitely wasn't as glamorous that you might think. First, I stood in line to get through security for nearly an hour in the blazing hot sun. I'm from Florida, so I'm used to heat, but not when I'm wearing a suit and tie. It was brutal. The sweat was just rolling. Everyone was overdressed for the occasion, knowing that it was at least 90 at noon.

This time, I saw this function from the a different perspective, that of someone who produces many events each year and knows the work that goes in behind the scenes to make an event work and seem seamless to attendees.

The White House staff was crawling everywhere getting things done (lots of fresh-faced recent grads or interns with Blackberries). But there were glitches that probably few others noticed (the CD of patriotic music skipped several times, for example).

I even noticed flaws in the White House itself. You might think its perfect, but it's got issues with paint, cracks, etc. The facade is perfection, but it's really not.

The president spoke about the importance of everyone giving 4,000 hours to service to others. It's' a worthy issue and one that deserves attention. That's why I went-- it wasn't because I wanted to rub elbows with politicans or say "I've been to the White House" or show off. It was to support the cause of service.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stretching and growing...

Even though I've been working on student government business for close to 26 years, never a day goes by that I don't learn something new. I'm not content to stay where I am-- I want to continue growing and improving and learning.

I make sure to subscribe to Google alerts, so I can be in touch with news about student governments. I get dozens of campus newspapers sent to me electronically. I monitor student leader web sites daily. I do searches on the web for student government and other related terms. I e-mail and call dozens of students and advisors every week.

We can't afford to be isolated and content. We have to be willing to consider new ideas, take on new projects, and take risks.

All of this helps stretch me. And this makes ASGA a better resource for all of our members.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Expecting a storm...

The ASGA offices are located in usually sunny Florida. But this past weekend, our headquarters was right smack dab in the path of slow-moving Tropical Storm Fay. While the storm didn't have hurricane-force winds, it did pack a punch. It dumped inches and inches of rain on our area, waterlogging everyone and everything. One of my relatives had 30 inches of rain! We're drying out now, thankfully.

As the storm churned toward us, the ASGA team all made plans for our homes and families. We turned off equipment at our offices. We cleaned gutters and picked up anything that could get thrown by the winds into windows. We filled gas tanks for the generator and stocked up on canned goods and water.

It was a reminder to me about the value of preparation. In Student Governments, there are times that we take on an issue or problem and we can predict there will be a storm ahead-- a storm of protests or negative reaction or criticism.

Just like preparing for a natural disaster is wise, it's wisdom to think ahead and play devil's advocate and be ready for what may come as a campus leader. By doing so, you are preparing for the storm ahead. Hopefully, like Tropical Storm Fay, it will pass you by relatively unscathed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's really important

Family. Friends. My faith. These are what are REALLY important to me. Student Governments and helping them improve comes in a strong fourth. But all of us need to set our priorities on what is really important in our lives.

I just spent the day with my wife, children, and parents, who came to our house to celebrate the second birthday of my youngest son, Luke. We had a great family day with lots of laughter, good food, funny stories, and reminiscing about old times when I was a boy. The children love to hear about what Daddy was like as a little boy.

It was a relaxing and enjoyable time, and this day reminded me of why I work so hard on ASGA and our conferences. I provide for my family, of course, and also I want to show them that our lives should be about service and giving and doing for others. Not about boosting our own egos or making millions or getting recognition. This day reminded me of the importance of service.

It was a perfect family day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting ready

The whole ASGA team is starting to get into our "national conference" mode. With ASGA's National Student Government Summit about five weeks away, we're already planning, getting materials ready, working on handouts and presentations, and confirming speakers. It might be the largest Student Government conference in the history of the nation.

It's a ton of work and planning to create an event that "looks" well-organized. There is so much planning and work that goes into creating an event that is enjoyable to attendees.

We also want to make it better for returning attendees. We always are incorporating new workshops and new ideas to make the experience better for everyone. ASGA is an organization that is constantly working to improve, with the goal of better-serving our members.

Hope you can make it to this year's national conference. It's not too late to register, although our hotel block is nearly sold out again (we have already added to the block three times). Register at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Travelin' man

Just got back from back-to-back trips to Boston and Salt Lake City, both trips for ASGA. The Boston event was last Saturday-- our first-ever Boston Student Government Training Conference at the University of Massachusetts/Boston. Rain meant flight delays in Tampa and in Charlotte. Got to Boston late Friday night, then set up on campus before the conference on Saturday. We had a great showing-- 148 registrants from 32 schools nationwide-- even though ASGA just announced this conference about three months ago.

After flying back home to be with the fam on Sunday and Monday morning, I headed to Tampa for a flight to Salt Lake City to consult/train one of ASGA's founding member, Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Worked with them all day on Tuesday, then caught a red-eye flight back home, arriving at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

I was so beat that I took a four-hour nap on Wednesday afternoon. Only now am I feeling rested. I really don't know how politicans speak day after day after day. I do know, actually. They have staff members that plan their flights, do their advance work, get them ready for trips, etc. I'm the "advance" team for ASGA's conferences, and we're still a growing organization and don't have the resources to have a full-time meeting planner on staff yet.

Traveling by plane now is a painful exercise, let me tell you. It's no fun sitting in a space about 18 inches across, squeezed in with two other seat-mates, for four or five hours. Making matters worse this latest trip was my computer battery failing. I spilled coffee on the computer a few weeks ago, and while the machine is still working fine, I think the battery is kaput. Ebay here I come!

All this travel is part of being a servant leader. It's part of my role to be on the road working with and serving SG leaders and advisors across the nation. The Weber State trip was a "no-fee" trip-- they won a free "training" at the last National Student Government Summit. So I made good on our promise and went out there.

Next up is a training with one of our members in South Carolina, Southern Wesleyan University, in mid September. Then we're off to the largest student government conference in the history of America, the fourth annual ASGA National Student Government Summit in late September in DC!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Connecting with your constituents

Most students don't care about Student Government, even if the SG is a powerhouse and is influential. Most students don't think SG does anything for them personally.

We have to show students that we're involved in their lives and that we matter throughout the year. SGs can't just be visible during election season (when they bombard everyone with fliers and buttons and freebies and accost passersby to vote).

One of ASGA's goals this year is to make sure we communicate with our members throughout the year in many ways. We developed a plan yesterday to call each member institution four times a year, to try to answer questions and remind them of what we offer and the resources we have. We also will e-mail them monthly with the ASGA newsletter, fax periodically, and mail them with updates. It's our hope that we teach our members how ASGA can serve them.

Your SG can do the same. You should develop a strategic plan of how to interact with your constituents regularly, to solicit feedback, share news, get ideas, and show you care.

Connecting with our constituents makes us relevant in their lives and then we become indispensible to them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Time for what's important

As ASGA grows, the demands on my time as executive director are formidable. I could literally work 24 hours a day.

But I don't. My wife, children, and I have dinner together every night. Not only do we eat together, but we also read and discuss issues, laugh, and hear about the day's event and activities. I listen to what each of them has to say and what concerns or problems they may be having. Sometimes dinner lasts two hours.

It is an example of my focus on what is really important to me. I MAKE time to spend with my wife and children and it's not just scheduled to get it over with. It's a real time that matters to all of us.

Lately, with the price of gas, I have limited my trips into the office (I have a 40-minute commute), and instead am working two or three days from my home. This lets me play with the children, read to them, work around the house, and even go with them to events, like the local library talent show in which they performed last week.

All of this is intended to show that I'm trying to make time for what's important in my life. Student Government certainly isn't the reason I exist. Professionally, it is very important to me, and I see how our work can have lasting impact long-term.

But we should be more than our professions. We should do more than just our jobs. We must make time for what's truly important.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Reinventing the wheel

Great leaders learn from the mistakes and successes of others. I sure didn't as a young leader. I blindly charged ahead, making costly errors one after the other. Over my 25-year career, I'm made some whoppers.

Fortunately, I've learned from most of my mistakes and also try my best to learn from others.

In Student Government, very little is "new under the sun." The project or service you're trying to provide or create probably has been done or tried before. You can save your SG a lot of time and pain by learning from those who already have done it, perhaps better than you as well.

That's what ASGA provides: a way for you to connect with other SG leaders and advisors who are in the same boat, are dealing with the same issues, are struggling with the same problems. Those of you who are ASGA members, take advantage of the vast resources we offer. Our team spends thousands and thousands of hours updating information on colleges and universities so you don't have to!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How to connect...

Was looking at the SGA web site at Colgate University last night and noticed that the president and vice president both include links to their Facebook profiles. They have graphics next to their photos that encourage students to "friend" them.

This is the first time I've seen this used at an SGA web site, and I think it's a great idea.

Being a better leader is all about connecting with others who may know more than you or who can help you learn and improve. In this case, connecting with their peers is both wise and politically astute.

I encourage you to make sure your constituents can find you, can connect with you, and to make sure you have many ways of reaching out to them (phone, fax, e-mail, web, Facebook, MySpace, and more).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Take a risk to create

When you create something that has never existed, there is risk and a lot of unknowns. When we founded ASGA, no one had ever developed a national resources specifically for student governments. There was no "blueprint" to use, no roadmap to follow. With constant input from our members, surveys, and research, we continue to hone and enhance our resources and change and improve to better serve our members.

The risk I spoke of shows up in lots of places. When we produce our national conference, for example, we sign a contract with a hotel that can handle 600 students and advisors. In return for waiving the fees on meeting space, the hotel requires to guarantee that they will generate 700 room nights. If the conference doesn't happen, for whatever reason, ASGA is then obligated to pay for the rooms that students/administrators would have used to come to the conference. Yesterday, the hotel's room "pick-up" report showed that conference attendees have now reserved enough rooms that ASGA has fulfilled its end of the contract. Whew!

There are risks when you start a new program or new initiative in your SG. There may not be financial risks like this, but there are risking to your reputation and that of your SG. But creating something from nothing is exciting and invigorating and can really serve the needs of your students. Take a risk this year to create!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gimme a break!

Most Student Governments continue to almost completely shut-down during the summer months. Why? Their members are interning, studying abroad, working, or resting up for the fall semester.

But most colleges and universities continue to operate and make important decisions during this time.

If your SG is on hiatus during the "break," it's time to reconsider this. At least have one person checking in with administrators once or twice a week to keep in touch. She can then inform the rest of your e-board and senate through e-mail. If you need to take action, you can arrange to vote electronically or by conference call.

It's time to "break" with the old and acknowledge that colleges and universities operate year-round. For an SG to not be up-and-running throughout the entire year is a mistake and a disservice to your constituents.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An honor to serve...

I've been doing this Student Government training and research "thing" for more than 25 years now. Usually, it's not very glamorous, just a lot of hard work and research. We spend thousands of hours gathering and updating information and contacts for every college and university in America, for example.

But our work makes a difference in the lives of the student leaders and advisors who take advantage of ASGA's resources. Our work is important, and the knowledge of this makes all of the effort worth it.

It is an honor to earn the trust of hundreds of institutions that join ASGA because they believe we can help and serve them. We can help make them better. We take this responsbility seriously. The ASGA sees our role as servants-- servants to the student leaders and advisors who have the courage and foresight to understand that they can improve with a little help from the outside. That's ASGA.

I have the best job in the nation!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The first, the best, and the most

Student Governments are pretty quick to say things like "we have the largest budget in the nation," or "we have the most members" or "we were the first to do...whatever."

With 5,100 student governments nationwide, nearly everything has been done before or tried before.

For example, Wesleyan University's WSA representatives bragged in their campus newspaper that they're the first student government to create an "endowment" using unused funds from their annual budget. This is hardly true. There are several examples of fiscally conservative student governments (Eastern Connecticut State University, the University of Wyoming, and several of the public institutions in California come to mind immediately) that have roll-over monies that they hold close each year.

One of ASGA's many strengths is our vast database that includes information like this on every student governnment in America. Our members can search this. They also can communicate with thousands of their peers using our list-servs.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, they can save time by using ASGA's resources.

Wesleyan's WSA does something, however, that is worthy of mention. They produce a mid-year progress report that is circulated to the campus press, students, and staff. This reminds WSA members about the progress that has been made on specific projects, and it always reminds them of what it left to be done. It can help them focus on marshalling their resources to focus on completing specific projects before their terms of office conclude.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Devoting our lives to improving student government

The team that runs ASGA is made up of full-time professionals who specialize in student governance and student leadership. What makes ASGA so unique as a resource is our total focus on helping student governments improve. We live and breath student government every day and that simply makes us the best there is in the world at student government training. We're immersed in the research, data we gather on every school in America, and hundreds of e-mails we get daily. We also subscribe to campus newspaper newsfeeds and are constantly searching the web for new trends, hot issues, and solutions to problems.

Our members know that this is our mission. For me, as executive director, there is nothing more important to me (aside from my wife and children). It is my full-time mission in life: to improve America's government by training student leaders to be effective and ethical future public servants.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Always improving, always growing

In my 25 years in student leadership, I've never encountered an SG organization that literally gets better by the minute. ASGA does.

We literally are growing and improving our resources every minute of every day during the work week. Our data team is gathering more information, we're conducting more research, adding new members, producing new conferences, and much more.

It's exciting to be part of something that is truly changing the face of student governments across America!

Advisors training

Just got back from ASGA's Advisors conference in Miami. We had more attendees for the third year in a row. It was a good time to get to know some new, green advisors and also reconnect with other allies we've worked with for several years. I enjoyed having dinners two nights with our speakers, Chris, Vicky, and Suzette. They're super-smart people and share the vision of ASGA: improving student governments and in the long-run, improving our nation's government.

It was a long drive down and back (five hours each way), but I got home about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night and was able to spend the day with my wife and children.

All in all, it was a great conference and ASGA continued to improve and grow and serve our members better. We learn from every one of the conferences we produce.

Join ASGA to improve your SG!

ASGA is the national professional association serving and supporting collegiate student governments. Please see for details.

ASGA has nearly 1,000 member institutions of all types and sizes nationwide.