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By LaChelle Sutphen
From one immense opportunity to the next, NCAA staff member Mike Racy often anticipates the pinch that will wake him from this dream.
Racy, NCAA vice president for Division II, was nominated by Executive Vice President Bernard Franklin to take part in the American Council on Education Fellows Program. Racy said he is honored by the NCAA’s year-long support for his professional development.
The ACE Fellows Program is the nation’s premier higher education leadership development program. It prepares senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities.
“You never stop learning,” Racy said.
Racy said he has embraced his “opportunity to spend this year studying and learning leadership styles from institutions of higher education.”
Racy spent his fall placement working and shadowing in the office of Central Missouri President Charles Ambrose. Working in higher education, in what some would call a nontraditional format, Racy has recognized the current time as a critical period in higher education.
“I have a front row seat to see how educational leaders deal with new changes and challenges,” he said.
This spring, Racy is visiting as many campuses as possible. In his one- to two-day visits, he has explored diversity on campuses, learning and experiencing the dynamics of various institutions throughout the country. He has all manner of institutions, including private, public, historically black and religious based, among others.
After spending the year absorbing a range of leadership styles and governing structures within higher education, Racy said his learning will carry on.
He has been selected to participate in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference this summer, having been nominated by Ambrose, his fellowship mentor. Ambrose, a former conference participant, believed it would be a valuable capstone to Racy’s fellowship.
Participants of the JCOC are identified opinion leaders, given the opportunity to directly observe and engage with the U.S. military. As the Department of Defense’s oldest outreach program, dating to 1948, the JCOC’s mission is to increase public understanding of national defense. Racy, along with 39 other selected participants, will spend six days observing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard operations.
Racy said he is determined to exemplify learning as a lifelong journey for his three sons, Cal, Zack and Tyler.
“This helps me demonstrate what I preach to my kids,” he said.