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The Connected Executive in Higher Education

After years of researching “where” in higher education (from professional associations, search firms, consultants or coaches) that campus executives can go to get training, guidance, and support on social media, I can confidently say there is very little – at least formally.

It might be an add-on to a retreat, institute or conference session. If they are fortunate (and smart) they have hired a digital community manager to run the university and/or divisional social media accounts, so they have a resource in-house. They may also invest time spent with students, allowing reverse mentorship to guide knowledge and application.

But by far, campus executives are piecing together how best to genuinely show up online that aligns with their institutional role and personal values. This reality can be unsettling, with the very public nature of the digital platforms and the pressure they are under to fundraise, recruit, retain, engage, and the list goes on and on.

By its DNA, social media doesn’t make it easy to keep up with and feel confident knowing what works. One month something works wonders on Facebook, the next the algorithm flips strategy completely. Last year your students loved Snapchat, but now they are on Instagram. How can the guesswork be taken out, so campus leaders can execute a purpose-driven digital leadership strategy?

Is it even possible to be connected as a campus executive?

Yes! I know it is possible – so I started talking about it, a lot. 

Connecting Digital Engagement, Influence, and Leadership

Digital engagement, influence, and leadership is the core of my work. Throughout the year I’m invited to be a conference keynote speaker to campus leaders, brought on as a consultant for universities, and support individual campus leaders as an executive coach. But the most public places I’ve been documenting and supporting the needs of a connected executive in higher education has been my blog and podcast.

Shining the light on this topic became so apparent to me that nearly every blog post I wrote this last year has been directed to senior leaders, from deans up to chancellors.

Tweet the Veep: 30 Vice Presidents to Follow on Twitter

Secret Sauce of Social Media for Campus Executives

Thought Leadership 2.0: The Relational Leadership Update

4 Missteps CEOs Make on Social Media

20 Higher Education Presidents to Follow on Instagram

25 Higher Education Presidents to Follow on Twitter

I have also invited a number of campus leaders onto my podcast to speak about the integration of social as a Vice President or President.

Keynote recording with Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough

Kirk and Noel Schulz, Washington State University President and First Lady

Melissa Woo, Stoney Brook University Vice President of Information Technology

Luoluo Hong, San Francisco State University Vice President of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management

Walter Kimbrough, Dillard University President

Levester Johnson (LJ), Illinois State University Vice President of Student Affairs

Tonantzin Oseguera, Cal State Fullerton Associate Vice President of Student Affairs

Mamta Accapadi, Rollins College Vice President of Student Affairs

Ann Marie Klotz, Radford University Vice President of Student Affairs

Okay, you get it, I’ve done my homework, and a fair share of amplifying the efforts of leaders across campuses – who I believe are doing some fantastic work on and offline.

The Missing Pieces for The Connected Exec

But there are still a couple missing pieces. The first is community – the second is social proof.

The second (social proof) will be accomplished in the book I’m writing, contracted with Stylus Publishing. Real stories and documented research on senior leaders in higher ed will serve up the proof for a purpose-driven digital leadership presence. Stay tuned for anticipated pre-sale information. But that, unfortunately, won’t be until early 2019.

But we can’t wait that long. The other missing piece for campus leaders is a community. This need is what leads me to the reason for this post. I am thrilled to announce a community for current and aspiring executives in higher education who want to engage, influence and lead online called The Connected Exec.

This Group is For You If:

 You are currently or aspire (in the next year) to serve as an executive in higher education** The community is also open for executives in higher education associations and foundations.

You are interested in establishing or enhancing your online presence to genuinely engage with your campus community/stakeholders and influence positive change in higher education.

You appreciate the application of leadership frameworks, coupled with management tools that can be applied to digital environments.

You desire a community with and for university executives who are willing to support and celebrate.

**Note higher education executive titles may vary based on institutional structure but could include Dean, Assistant Vice President, Vice President, Provost, President, and Chancellor.

What to Expect:

I have created this community in a private Facebook group, which purposefully will be kept small so it can be highly engaging. There is absolutely no cost associated to join.

As a community member, you’ll have the opportunity to

  • Tune-in for live training with me (or catch the recordings).
  • Listen/watch guest interviews that feature campus executives to discuss their unique and strategic digital presence, as well as learn from campus digital engagement experts.
  • Stay updated with the most relevant social media platforms, tactics and strategies to immediately apply to your overall brand and digital approach.
  • Experience a powerful network of peers who will offer feedback, guidance, and affirmation.

Ready to Get Connected?

Start here — > https://www.facebook.com/groups/connectedexec

Please make sure to complete the three questions when requesting to join to ensure you are the right fit. This also lets me know your current needs for digital engagement and leadership!

P.S. While many professionals may seek out an executive role sometime in their career, this space is specifically geared for those currently in these positions (or aspire to be very soon – like in the next year). If your request to join is not accepted, it is most likely due to this requirement.


If you’re ready to connect with your campus, you’ll love this BRAND NEW resource that I’ve created called Get Connected: The Social Media Guide for Campus Leaders.
This guide shares the latest usage of young adults of social media and how campus leaders can genuinely connect with their campus community.
[button link=”https://www.josieahlquist.com//getconnectedguide/”]Request your free copy[/button]

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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