Purchasing Director, University of Florida
Outgoing NAEP President, 2015-2016
My farewell speech—now I get to thank you for allowing me to serve as the NAEP President this past year. During the year, along the way, a fair number of folks asked me how it’s been, being president. Having had some time to think about it, I’d like to share a bit about my experience.
I traveled a lot, at least for me. I attended CHEMA, the Council of Higher Education Management Associations, with Doreen Murner, NAEP’s CEO. I met folks from all kinds of higher education associations: CUPA-HR [College and University Professional Association for Human Resources], Auxiliaries, Risk, Student Affairs, College Unions, Attorneys, Intermural Sports, Facilities and NACUBO—all customers we serve on campus. It was inspiring to meet my volunteer counterparts and their CEOs and to share our respective challenges. Some were similar to, others different from, the procurement challenges we all face daily. Speakers talked about the issues in higher education from a national perspective, describing Washington’s take on Higher Ed. There were discussions about metrics and how challenging it is to benchmark across different kinds of educational institutions, because we’re different, even though we all educate students. There are no common definitions to benchmark across and no central repository for all the data. As an aside, it was clear that within CHEMA, Doreen and NAEP are highly regarded. We are fortunate to have her as our CEO.
So, more travel: I attended NACUBO and NIGP and, most recently, the NAEP Innovators Forum, hosted by Forum Chair Sandy Hicks from the University of Colorado. The white paper from the Forum, called “Enhancing Supplier Value & Performance,” is available to Members on the NAEP website. I learned so much participating and listening to colleagues. I was inspired to improve and focus more on contract management on our campus. Steven Neal, our University of Florida Contract Manager, is already at work implementing those ideas.
You know what else? I got to be a cover girl. Yes, I did. I made the cover of NAEP’s Educational Procurement Journal—and so can you. Just volunteer to run for NAEP President; let me know if you are interested. I really dislike having my photo taken but, I have to tell you, it was worth it. In addition to my picture, we got a photo of all of our office staff in my article and I can’t tell you how much campus-wide recognition we got out of that NAEP Journal issue. Immediate fame. My boss, the CFO, left a copy out in his office and many senior leaders on campus commented to me about it, which gave me an opportunity to use my elevator speech, talk about NAEP, and Procurement’s role on campus. Talk about an entrée to a seat at the table!
So, that’s some of what I did, but I learned so much more. Last year when I started in this role I was so nervous, maybe even afraid, that I wasn’t quite up to the task (following previous NAEP presidents like Cory Harms, Valerie Rhodes-Sorrelle, Bill Harris, Sandy Hicks), but I gave it my best shot and along the way I learned. I learned I could write a 200-word article every month. Some folks even asked me if they could share what I wrote, which led me to realize that I know more than I thought I did. The final thing I learned is that when you step up and try, you get out so much more out than you put in.
Last year someone told me that I should be paying NAEP for this opportunity and, you know what? They might be right, because this past year gave me the chance to learn and grow, to try new things, and then learn how to be successful doing them. That benefitted me, my institution, and, I hope, NAEP.
So, I did all that—but I couldn’t have done it without a lot of people helping and supporting me along the way. Some of the rock stars in our procurement world: Sandy Hicks, Nichol Luoma, Ted Johnson, Bill Probst, Steve Mack, Bill Harris, Judy Rees, Judy Smith, and many more I don’t have time to name—Thank You. A special shout out to Barry Swanson from University of Kansas, from whom I learned so much and enjoyed working with. In addition to the procurement professionals, I cannot say enough about the NAEP staff. It’s inspiring what this talented, dedicated group of eight professionals delivers to the membership. We are lucky to have them. Many thanks to the folks from Florida, my State University System colleagues and those from UF who supported me while I traveled and did the work of NAEP, and Judy Rees, who was a motivator in her enthusiasm for NAEP. Finally, I need to thank my kids, Victoria, who has just finished her sophomore year in college, and Chip, my high school sophomore son, who made-do without me during all that NAEP travel, since I wasn’t there to cook his dinner. It’s a good thing he likes mac and cheese.
As much as all friends, family and colleagues need my thanks, the real thanks has to go to you, the Association and Membership, for giving me this opportunity. In addition to your continuing to learn and grow by being Members and participating in NAEP events, I encourage you to run for board office—regionally or nationally—so you can push the envelope on learning and growing. Put a little in, get so much more out. That’s a real deal (moderate pun intended). I hope you’ll let me know you are interested in volunteering to serve. I’d be happy to help you find where you want to take a risk, which has a serious return. Again, many thanks.