Scott Beard Leadership Circle

Scott Beard Leadership Circle

Leadership Development Circle
21-23 July, 2021

(The planning team tentatively expects this to be in-person/hybrid event)
Sonoma State University

COPLAC institutions have a different set of contexts for leadership than any other sector of American higher education. Our size and mission often separate us from larger public institutions, and our public focus, governance structure, and funding models often separate us from similarly sized private institutions. COPLAC campuses face similar needs and challenges in identifying, developing, and recruiting academic leaders who can make a compelling case for the public liberal arts mission.

To promote leadership capacity at our individual institutions and within the public liberal arts sector of higher education, COPLAC will host a three-day professional development workshop in July 2020 for early- to mid-career academic affairs administrators who have solid experience at the division, school, college, or institutional levels. Participants will be able to engage with COPLAC peers to address common challenges, develop professional networks, share resources, and build decision-making strategies. 

Our format of intensive, problem-based workshops will allow teams or individuals from institutions to focus on issues COPLAC administrators have identified as crucial. Senior COPLAC administrators will facilitate workshop sessions and mentor attendees, encouraging “communities of practice” to create an international network for leadership within a public liberal arts context. The Beard Leadership Circle will continue throughout the year with ongoing virtual meetings that can build relationships and foster the sharing of ideas and models. We encourage your institution to send new and potential mid-level leaders.

The setting for the Beard Leadership Circle is lovely Sonoma County, California, located conveniently close to metropolitan airports in San Francisco and Oakland. Campus housing, in SSU’s apartment-style residential facilities, will be available to reduce costs and create a sense of community. Participants can hike our regional and state parks, visit the ocean, and explore our famous wineries.

The view from the top of the Fairlfield Osborn Preserve overlooks the Santa Rosa Plain to the west. Photo from

Before his sudden death in 2021, Scott Beard (Provost, Shepherd University) served COPLAC as an At-Large Member of the Executive Committee, as the Chair of the working group that developed the Online Course Sharing Guidelines and registration form, as a member of the Membership Committee, and as an active member of the Leadership Circle Planning Team. In all these roles, we valued Scott’s intellectual contributions, his organizational skills, and his administrative acumen. Just as importantly, we benefited from his humor, his spontaneous singing, his collegiality, and his commitment to COPLAC and its mission to promote affordable, public access to a liberal arts based education.

This initiative has been renamed the Scott Beard Leadership Circle to honor Scott’s contributing his time in planning, writing case studies, and mentoring deans, associate deans, associate provosts.



What does the schedule look like?

Show MoreThere will be a mix of plenary and smaller breakout sessions, with Thursday evening providing a chance to explore Sonoma County. A final schedule will be shared ahead of time!

What if I need to cancel?

Show MoreIf you need to cancel and there is a person from your institution on the waiting list, you may transfer your registration to that person. Please email to discuss. We are also able to issue full refunds up to 7 days before the event.

What are the lodging options?

Show MoreThe on-campus stay is not required, but is offered for cost-savings and community building. The residence hall stay will be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights (7/8, 7/9, 7/10). When you register, you will select whether you will stay in SSU’s residence hall or will find your own accommodation. Other options close to campus include Double Tree by Hilton, Oxford Suites, and The Gables Inn. If you would like to venture deeper into wine country you might try the Jack London Lodge in Glen Ellen, or stay at Sonoma’s El Pueblo Inn. If you choose campus housing but would like to extend your stay in Sonoma County beyond those three nights, you will need to find other accommodation as the housing office is hosting many additional summer programs. 

What is the residence hall like?

Show MoreBeaujolais Village is in a nicely landscaped area off the main campus road. You will have your own bedroom and a private bathroom in a shared suite with up to three other Leadership Circle attendees. There will be a conference representative at check-in available to answer questions or address any issues you may have.

How accessible are your campus and facilities?

Show MoreCampus facilities are generally accessible. The residence hall is a ten minute walk to the meeting rooms, and golf cart rides can be provided if needed. Many of the Beaujolais Village rooms are accessed by stairs, but ground floor rooms are available upon request.

What should I pack?

Show MoreDress for the Leadership Circle is casual, so no need to overpack. Sonoma County has a Mediterranean climate, warm in the day with cool evenings. It is always best to have layers to wear once the sun goes down. Check the weather forecast. Lodging is in a residence hall (Beaujolais Village): linens/towels/pillows are provided, but other amenities that a hotel might offer are not. Bring your own toiletries, alarm clock, hair dryer, etc. (Campus is also walking distance from a 7/11, for little items.)

Where can I park on campus?

Show MoreIf you are driving yourself to the Leadership Circle, we will provide you with a parking pass at check-in. Nearby parking is available in lot R9 (closest) or lot F right next to the residence hall.

How do I get to campus?

Show MoreOptions include renting a car, taking the airport shuttle, or possibly carpooling. Sonoma County Airport Express runs regularly from each of the regional airports (SFO, OAK, and STS). The schedule varies by airport, be sure to review the schedule for the last pick up time of every day and read the pickup location instructions carefully. Tickets are available for purchase online (only), cost is $38 each way. The shuttle drops off in Rohnert Park at the Double Tree Hotel, a quick 4 mile Lyft or Uber ride to Sonoma State University. Depending upon interest, the COPLAC office may also try to arrange carpools among those whose arrivals/departures are close together. Attendees will be surveyed about interest in this option.

What meals are provided?

Show MoreReception and dinner Wednesday; breakfast, lunch, and breaks Thursday and Friday, with a closing dinner on Friday. (Thursday dinner is on-your-own and Saturday breakfast is on-your-own while traveling.)

Will I have time to explore Wine Country?

Show MoreYes! Thursday evening will be an opportunity to explore local dining with your colleagues. For those who choose to extend their stay, Sonoma County has an abundance of hiking, wine tasting, beer tasting, and dining to enjoy. Sonoma State University staff are happy to provide recommendations for the many choices available in the region.