Meet NAC&U President Sean Creighton

Sean Creighton began as NAC&U’s president on Monday, March 4, 2019. Learn about his background, connection to Ernest Boyer and why fellow Ohioans may suddenly have a better awareness of NAC&U.

What was your professional role before becoming president of NAC&U?

Before joining NAC&U, I served as the president of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education, more affectionately known as SOCHE. For 15 years, I worked with a highly diverse group of colleges and universities with the goal of creating an educated, employed, and engaged public in Ohio. Further, we formed partnerships among higher ed, government, and industry to address workforce development and retention for the region. Fun stuff!

What attracted you to the position of president of NAC&U?

My scholarship and practice is in the area of leadership, civic engagement, and campus-community partnerships. I’ve admired the NAC&U members from afar and jumped at the opportunity when I learned of the position. I’ve wanted to work for a national organization whose members have a strong civic mission. NAC&U members demonstrate more than others in higher ed a relentless commitment to liberal education and civic engagement. They provide a quality, meaningful education that students deserve today.

What experience or passion do you uniquely bring to NAC&U?

I will wake up and go to bed obsessing (in a good way) about our members and how NAC&U can help them succeed now and in the future, how NAC&U can help them achieve their visions. I bring extensive experience leading a consortium, am a passionate advocate for higher ed and collaboration, and am tireless in my commitments. I’m all in! My sweet spot is working with faculty and staff to find new ways to build collaborative programs that advance teaching and learning and, ultimately, student success.

How do you think NAC&U can help its members work through the challenges facing colleges and universities?

While higher education will continue to face new challenges, NAC&U campuses have shown the ability to evolve and make changes that have a positive impact for their campuses and communities. Going forward, we will work together to build new strategic, academic alliances that help eliminate pressures and shape their future. NAC&U is perfectly positioned to become the trusted, collaborative space for members, identifying campus challenges and moving them from query to research to scalable solutions.

What are your long- and short-term priorities?

For me, the short and long-term priorities are the same. We need to administer programs and initiatives that result in a sustained competitive advantage for NAC&U members. In doing so, we will enhance the integration of liberal education, professional studies, and civic engagement, but also identify the next phase of expansion for members, as they continue to lead in defining the comprehensive independent American institution.

What are you most looking forward to in your first year?

I am really looking forward to getting to know and work with the people at NAC&U campuses. Already, many have reached out, and I feel welcomed and connected to them. I am excited to work with members on developing and executing a strategic roadmap that will make NAC&U indispensable. I’m looking forward to being challenged as well as challenging NAC&U to be more focused in its actions while, subsequently, more expansive in its impact.

Where are you located?

I am based in Dayton, Ohio, where, it turns out, Ernest Boyer was born. In many ways, I feel like NAC&U is returning to its founder’s birthplace as we close in on celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2020.

We hear you have some NAC&U spirit gear already. What’s that about?

Lol! Yes, indeed, it has started. While my license plate read “SOCHE” for the last 15 years, on March 4th, my first day at NAC&U, I marched forth with a new plate that now reads “NACU.” You can check out the plate on Twitter, @seancreighton. It looks great. I would expect that you will see much more NAC&U gear emerging in the future. I’m working on official shirts for my 2019 NAC&U Member Listening Tour.

What is your personal motto?

The quote by Ryunosuke Satoro guides me as a leader, “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” To me, this speaks to the power of collaboration. I’ve added a follow on that reads, “Collaboration is the most abundant renewable resource we have on this planet.” The opportunity for working together to finding creative solutions to pressing problems is limitless.

Also, there is my old favorite, “Fortune favors the prepared mind” by Louis Pasteur that serves as a daily motto. As a graduate of Antioch University, Horace Mann’s quote rings true for all of us, “Be ashamed to die, until you have achieved some victory for humanity.” As well, I have in my favorite quote book several by Dr. King, including, “The time is always right to do what is right.” However, lastly, there is, “Les is more.” My wife is Leslee (aka, “Les”) and I carry this motto everywhere I go as she is an inspiration to me and our family. 

Do you have a favorite book or favorite author?

When I was an undergraduate and graduate literature major, I had many favorite authors from Shakespeare to James Joyce to Toni Morrison to Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Dr. Seuss, and many others. Today, of course, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriateis one of my favorite books. 🙂

What type of hobbies do you enjoy?

Five years ago, I would have said pick-up basketball, but as we age, so change our hobbies. In more recent years, I’ve become a fan of pickleball. But, my true hobby is food and travel with the family. We have been fortunate to have crafted a life of simple living that enables us to spend free time exploring America and beyond.

What’s your favorite part of the U.S.?

Though I’ve lived in Ohio for over 20 years, I was born and raised in New York, one hour north of NYC. Hence, New York remains at the top of my favorite places list. That said, it is very much rivaled by the coasts of California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Oregon… the mountains of Colorado and the enchantment of New Mexico. What excites me most is that in my new position I will travel to the NAC&U campuses, therefore, exploring many new parts of our beautiful nation. Roadtrip!