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LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education Hold Conference on MV Explorer

LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education and traveling partners aboard the MV Explorer.

The MV Explorer, floating campus of the Institute for Shipboard Education’s Semester at Sea and Enrichment Voyage programs, was selected to host the annual LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education conference last week as the ship sailed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas.

Founded in August 2010, LBGTQ Presidents in Higher Education seeks the advancement of effective leadership in the realm of post-secondary education, supports professional development of LGBTQ leaders in that sector, and provides education and advocacy regarding LGBTQ issues within the global academy and for the public at large. Each year the organization selects a campus to host its annual meeting. The MV Explorer was chosen in special thanks to one of the early members of the organization, Institute for Shipboard Education President Les McCabe. Many of the organization’s founders are presidents of academic institutions that have students who have sailed with Semester at Sea.

“We are honored to have hosted the LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education annual conference,” said Les McCabe, President of the Institute for Shipboard Education. “The LGBTQ Presidents provide an important mentoring opportunity for other LGBTQ leaders in higher education who aspire to serve as university presidents. The members had such a positive experience on board the MV Explorer that they hope to host the conference on the ship next year as well.”

Attending the conference were 12 college or university presidents, representing Adler School of Professional Psychology; Clarion University of Pennsylvania; Episcopal Divinity School; Indiana University – South Bend; Keene State University; Lyndon State College; Manhattan School of Music; Menlo College; Roosevelt University; Semester at Sea; University of the Rockies; and Washington State University – Vancouver.

The purpose of the annual meeting was to determine the direction of the organization for the future. Presidents set an ambitious agenda of expanding meetings to be held in conjunction with other major organizations in higher education such as the American Council on Education and the Association of Governing Boards, and to develop programs to enhance career development opportunities for emerging LGBTQ leaders who are prospective college and university presidents for the future.

“Our last three years have been foundational and we now have a presence in the higher education landscape,” said Chuck Middleton, President of Roosevelt University in Chicago as well as one of the founding members of LBGTQ Presidents in Higher Education organization.  “Now it’s time to determine how to build upon that success and to develop programming that will enable us to do so.”

The MV Explorer introduced attendees to many different facets of the Semester at Sea and Enrichment Voyages. Attendees had an opportunity to meet the ship’s captain and senior officers along with accomplished faculty from many universities, including Semester at Sea academic sponsor, the University of Virginia. Attendees also witnessed a surprise safety and security inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard in which the MV Explorer scored a perfect 100%.

“In addition to continuing our tradition of holding meetings on member campuses, meeting on the MV Explorer enabled us to engage each other on these important issues in an academic environment which many of our students and employees have experienced and to which others in the future will come,” Middleton said. “Study abroad experiences are very important to all of us and this experience enabled us to learn first hand more about one key opportunity that is available.”

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