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From the ED 2.28.13

Dear Colleagues,

I am fortunate this week to have the opportunity to attend the NBOA Annual Meeting – a gathering of hundreds of business office professionals from around the country and the world. This meeting is followed by the NAIS Annual Conference.  My goal this week is to capture in this article some of the most relevant thoughts I hear, issues facing independent schools, and perhaps some solutions.

Peter Sheahan opened the NBOA conference with an inspiring talk about change and innovation – talking about the important role of the business officer in implementing change in our schools which find change difficult. The idea that the business officer is the venture capitalist within a school – allocating resources to experiment with change is a theme that I suspect we will hear from Jim Collins when he opens the NAIS conference. This reinforces my belief that the business officers need to play a critical role in the educational processes in our schools.

Additional sessions touched on the importance of understanding the human resources/risk management challenges as well as a great roundtable discussion about financial aid and another covering many aspects of leadership. The many discussions between sessions with friends – new and ‘old’ – as well as talking with many of the vendors in attendance filled a very busy day.

Tuesday morning began with a keynote by Jenifer Fox, author and a current Head of School, discussing the importance to the future of our schools of the strategic relationship between the Head of School and Business Officer. I had an opportunity to spend about 30 minutes one-on-one with Jenifer after her presentation and we discussed the changes we see in our schools, what the school of the future may look like, and what roles the leaders need to play in this transformation.

A session later in the day led by Janice Abraham, President and CEO, United Educators, provided new data about the risks facing independent schools and interesting information showing what we ‘think’ the significant risks are for our schools, as opposed to the reality that the claims data shows are the risks. More on this in the near future.

The closing session of the NBOA conference featured Steven Kotler talking about his book Abundance. Kotler is a futurist and has an interesting take on the direction our planet is taking and has been involved in some significant efforts to help our ‘planet’. The talk did not relate directly to schools or education, but definitely left the audience thinking about the future for our plant and people.

I also had the unique opportunity to join about 100 leaders of the independent school community at a reception honoring Pat Bassett for his contributions to independent schools during his 40+ years working with schools, including the past 13 years as President of NAIS. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by so much wisdom in one room.

Today is the first full day of the NAIS conference with a presentation by Jim Collins – one of my favorite authors – more on that later too!



Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO

From → MISBO

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