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Upholding One’s Responsibilities and Commitments

In August, 2010, the Executive Committee met in Austin and developed the norms and expectations we hold each other accountable for. The norms and expectations we developed are listed below.

UCEA Executive Committee Norms and Expectations

If elected to the EC, you agree to:

  1. Commit to attend all EC meetings.
  2. Come prepared to all EC meetings (i.e., read/review all materials).
  3. Put the interests of UCEA before your own when representing UCEA.
  4. Not disclose deliberations of the UCEA EC beyond publicly available info in minutes.
  5. Actively engage in difficult, courageous conversations concerning race, gender, sexual orientation, and other important areas of difference.
  6. Actively engage in critical conversations about society, schools, educational leadership, and university preparation.
  7. Emulate the leadership behaviors we hope to see in others.
  8. Maintain an ethos of dignity, integrity, and respect both in our meetings and when representing UCEA.
  9. Act in a professional and ethical manner, when representing UCEA.
  10. Maintain professional relationships with UCEA staff.
  11. Channel requests for significant assistance from UCEA staff through the Executive Director.
  12. Not engage in fraud, deceit, dishonesty, and misrepresentation.
  13. Hold one another accountable for these norms.

In addition, UCEA recently adopted in 2011 an ethical code co-led by Joan Shapiro and Marla Israel on a task force. The code is located at  As quoted on UCEA’s website, “This code is meant to serve as a living document of what we aspire to achieve as professors of Educational Leadership.  The hope is that this code will not be static, but that there will be dialogue and discussion related to it frequently, and that there will be revisions as necessary through the UCEA standing ethics committee and UCEA plenum.”

At times, we have individually and collectively fallen short of this espoused theory. With good intentions, similar to mission and vision statements, these written statements oftentimes fade into the background if they aren’t constantly reviewed and made part of the modus operand. The reason I share these norms and responsibilities is as professors, we are very privileged in what we do. How many people can say they set their own working hours, work with bright and intelligent people who want to be there, and study what interest them? With this privilege comes a huge responsibility to practice what we preach and teach to our students. Maybe it is because I study and read about leadership that I often see people in our field who fail to live up to the privilege that has been bestowed upon them. While I understand and appreciate that people are busy, I often wonder why people who commit to something, don’t follow through on given assignments. Maybe I’m an old dinosaur, but when I commit to something I write it on my calendar and block out time to complete the task. Otherwise, I do not accept the commitment. Have I failed at this. Yes, unfortunately, I have, but I like to think the times I have failed can be counted on one hand and are the rare exception.

Recently, I was invited to participate in the 5th Annual Duquesne’s Educational Leadership Symposium (DELS) sponsored by their UCEA Center for Social Justice. As part of the invitation, they asked participants to commit to writing a book chapter or article on the impact of assessment on social justice in an era of accountability. For the past three years, I have participated faithfully in this conference and produced something tangible, e.g., last year it was a case study for a special issue of the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership. However, my co-author and I were one of the few teams to bring their deliverable case study to the conference. As a result, I encouraged the organizers to require something prior to the conference henceforth. This year, when I received the invitation, I initially accepted, but after further thought, realized I didn’t have anything I could contribute to this year’s theme. Nor was the topic something I had written on or could contribute something meaningful. As a result, I contacted the organizers and reluctantly declined the invitation and encouraged them to use their limited resources for someone who could produce and commit their time to a worthy topic. Why do I share this with you? You have to know when to say “no.” If you can’t contribute something of quality, do not commit to it, because others are counting on you to follow through.

Reader Comments (2)

Alan, I think you have hit on an important issue. It is important to keep in mind that the changing nature of higher education has many of us doing more with less time, fewer resources and less energy. This makes it even more important that we seriously consider our responsibilities for following through on commitments and thinking carefully about the things we commit to.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Young

I don't think you're a dinosaur Alan, I think you have integrity. Making and fulfilling commitments is part of what defines integrity. Integrity is integral to leadership and as such is captured in ISLLC standard 5. Without it, individuals are untrustworthy and unlikely to lead or inspire others to do so.

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPamela Tucker

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