Northwest Association of College & University Housing Officers

Presidential Reflections: Past, Present, and Future Part One

By Shelly Clark

This is the first part in a three part series brought to you by NWACUHO’s Presidential Trio which consists of our Past-President, current President, and President-Elect. Shelly Clark, our Past-President, shares her reflections in our first segment. 



“You can’t turn an aircraft carrier 90 degrees.  The most sustainable change in direction of an aircraft carrier is to make small incremental changes over the course of a number of years.  Making small incremental changes dramatically changes the trajectory without breaking the ship apart.”

– Dr. Larry Roper

While I was completing my Masters degree at Oregon State University, I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Larry Roper about the process of creating organizational change.  Dr. Roper often described the long term vision, sustained energy, and wayfinding skills needed for creating significant organizational changes as being a similar process as changing the course of an aircraft carrier.  Putting too much strain on the framework of the aircraft carrier breaks the ship apart, not changing your course will lead your ship to running aground.

2008 – 2011 was a time of great change in our Association.  It was a time where we defined our Association core values and purposes, filed for non-profit status in Oregon, and in 2011 officially became a 501(c)6 retroactive to the date of incorporation.  In 2012 our Association celebrated their 50th year as an Association. (http://nwacuho.org/about-nwacuho/history-and-background/)

Under the leadership of Josh Gana (the University of Washington), Steve Fitterer (Mt. Royal University) and Richard DeShields (Central Washington University) our Association embarked on creating the first version of the NWACUHO Master Plan in 2011-2012.  The goal of this master planning document was to be able to give our Association guidance as we were charting our path for the next few years. When questions about the direction, decisions, and rationale for our path came up; we were able to center ourselves on this master planning document.  In 2017 it was time to reinvest in our Association master planning process and realign our Associations actions with the voices of our membership. Our Association leadership, again guided by the voices of our Association, then authored our 2017-2021 Master Plan. You can find our current Association master plan here:  http://nwacuho.org/about-nwacuho/masterplan/

You might be saying, “That is great history, Shelly, but why does this matter now?  Why is this an important enough conversation point for it to be featured in The Soundings?”  Part of the role of serving as Past-President to our Association means that I have a responsibility to listen to the voices of our Association and recommending action to our Board of Directors.  Serving as Past-President means that you have had the opportunity to develop competency in understanding the long term vision of our Association, have the sustained energy to serve our Association, and have an acute understanding of our Associations wayfinding processes.

We are currently mid-way through fulfilling our 2017 – 2021 Association Master Plan.  We have completed some tasks, are in process of completing others, and have some work that has yet to begin.  If you have feedback on how we are doing or want to call our attention to something that has been omitted in our planning process I invite you to contact our President-Elect, President, or myself.  You are also invited to contact any member our our Board of Directors. Contact information can be found here: http://nwacuho.org/about-nwacuho/board/  

Believe it or not, we will soon begin work on our 2022 – 2027 Master Plan.  Before you know it, we will be reaching out again to our Association to learn more from our membership about their vision for our Association.   


Shelly Clark is currently the Associate Director of University Housing at Western Oregon University. She is the Past-President for NWACUHO.

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