Could Academic Principles Transform Private Residential Communities?
My husband and I just returned from dropping off our daughter for her freshman year of college at a very beautiful school with a rigorous undergraduate business program. While we were bracing ourselves for the flood of emotions associated with dropping off a child at a campus a great distance from our home, we also managed to enjoy the entire orientation program presented by the school.
As I looked around the packed auditorium where the Dean of the Business School delivered a very heartfelt speech, I thought to myself: “how many of these eager college students see themselves one day sitting on a community association board?” “How many will find themselves living in a condominium, cooperative or homeowners’ association in the future?”
Naturally, the answer is not one of them was thinking anything at all pertaining to the community association lifestyle.
The reality is, however, that a great many of them will one day live in a shared ownership community because that is what is being built throughout the United States. Since many of these students are bright and have already demonstrated leadership capabilities by virtue of being admitted to a school like the one in which we were sitting, the hope would be that many of them would give back to the communities they will call home some day when they are raising their own families and, afterwards, when they find themselves as Empty Nesters. But, would they? Why do the lessons of our childhood and young adulthood seem to leave us when we need them most, later in life and in instances where they could be most helpful?
The Dean told the students and their parents that the faculty and administration demanded excellence from them and insisted on integrity. The goal in the next four years was to create knowledge and transform each of them into their highest selves. The students wouldn’t have to go it alone. Each would have a team of advisors assisting them every step of the way.
How many communities could be transformed into places we love to call home if some of these university principles were applied to private residential communities? Why is there not the equivalent of a “team of advisors” helping people when they first move into a community? Many times, people are lucky if they get a wave and a nod from new neighbors. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if newcomers to the community were treated to an encouraging orientation program designed to help them succeed in the community, get involved and perhaps run for the board themselves?
Sure, this doesn’t always help; not every student will graduate from the university my daughter is attending but by setting the goals high and providing the support needed to achieve them, the administration has greatly increased their odds. What do we as community leaders do to ensure that newcomers to the community truly understand the rules, feel as though the community welcomes them and have the support needed to thrive as an association member? What is done to inspire talented and well-meaning folks to serve on these boards? Maybe each of our board members and association members need to remember what used to inspire them to be their best selves and apply it where it is needed most these days: their own community.