Join host Julie Groves, current URMIA president, as she interviews Courtney Davis Curtis, URMIA’s immediate past president. Julie and Courtney recap Courtney’s last year as URMIA’s president and her favorite moments from her presidency. Courtney shares what she has learned from her term, what her hopes are for the future of URMIA, and her own amazing personal goals of completing her MBA.
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NACUBO- National Association of College and University Business Officers
URMIA Strategic Goals
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Courtney Davis Curtis- Assistant Vice President for Risk Management and Resilience Planning, University of Chicago
Julie Groves-Director, Risk Services, Wake Forest University
Julie Groves: Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of URMIA Matters. I'm your host, Julie Groves. I'm the Director of Risk Services at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and I'm currently the president of URMIA. With me today is Courtney Davis Curtis, the immediate past president of URMIA. She is at the University of Chicago, and she has a very impressive and long title. She is the Assistant Vice President for Risk Management and Resilience Planning. Do you have to, do you have to say that every time you answer the phone? Do you have to answer it by saying, this is Courtney Davis Curtis, assistant Vice President for Risk Management and Resilience. Gosh, I would run out of breath.
Courtney Davis Curtis: Yes. I have to say that every single time. Then three names and then all of my designations. Just the one. Just kidding.
Julie Groves: Gosh. Woo. But anyway, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. We are glad you are here. And everybody knows Courtney, and everybody knows about her. But is there anything new and exciting in your life that's happened that you wanna just tell our listeners about before we before we talk about Courtney's yearend review?
Courtney Davis Curtis: Yes. I, I just celebrated my daughter's golden birthday. We had a four-cella festival and so that was just a nice touch and celebration cuz we don't always get to celebrate the good things. That was a really fun day that I'm coming out of.
Julie Groves: That's great. And for those who don't know, the golden birthday is when you turn your age on the day you were born.
Courtney Davis Curtis: Correct. That is absolutely right.
Julie Groves: So, she turns four on the fourth. That wasn't a thing I think when I was younger, so I missed out on that. So, but that sounds great, so, well, we are glad you're with us today and we wanted to just take a few minutes to talk through. Your last year as president, get your reflections on that. And so, I just wanted to start out by asking you, how would you describe your year as president?
Courtney Davis Curtis: If you could put it into words, I would describe it as fulfilling. Some may not know or recall that I served as President elect for two years, uh, and have been a part of the board for three years prior to serving as president elect. There’s this build up and this opportunity that you know, you can have your impact on the organization as the leader at the helm, and all these ideas that are generated and these things that you have to pivot from with regards to COVID. And so, I just found it to be fulfilling as I look back to it about the things that we set we were gonna do. And being able to accomplish it. And you know, something about coming off your presidency at a conference is just really rewarding cause you see the people and you're with the people. So, I, I would just describe it in general as fulfilling.
Julie Groves: Well, and that was a great reminder, Courtney, that you were president elect for two years. COVID really sort of threw everyone for a loop. And of course, I'm sure that no one expected that. No one expected that. As you said, you were on the board and then you were president elect for two years, finally culminating in your year as president and so you know, on behalf of URMIA, thank you so much for your service for all that time because I know that it was probably more than you and your family signed up for, but we appreciate your extended term. It, it was very meaningful to URMIA. Would you say there was anything surprising or unexpected about being president of URMIA?
Courtney Davis Curtis: The one thing I knew, you know, looking at the calendar of events that I would go out and represent URMIA at different conferences and associations, but it was, it was different than what I was expecting. You know, oftentimes as risk manager, you're, you're just talking about, the discipline of higher education and risk management, but being able to go out and sell URMIA to different brokers and vendors and things of that nature. At NACUBO, for example, it was, it was a really interesting perspective and something that I just kind of forgot was part of the responsibility because I was, I was there to present and you know, present this risk topic, but there's a whole nother side of a responsibility that is really important too. Our growth is not just in our membership on institutions. There's things that we're doing from a scholarship perspective and just really making different partnerships with other associations and creating more opportunities. I did that proudly, but just kind of forgot about how important that aspect was as well.
Julie Groves: Yeah. It's, it's putting on a completely different hat, you know, to your point, you're so used to going out and talking about risk management type topics and not that URMIA isn't that, but you're right. You're, you're, you're, you're representing the organization and so it's, it is a completely different hat. What do you think was the most interesting part of your year?
Courtney Davis Curtis: Wow. That's a, a really good question. I mean, all of it is interesting, but I, I, you know, I hate to always go back to COVID, but just figuring out how to navigate that and, and strike the right balance. We are in this phase of, you know, fatigue for a really long time, and then you combine that with different constraints that people have individually or for their institution. And so, we have all these great deliverables that we provide to our members and just having expectations or hopes as you go into it, not knowing what really what come of it. You know, I found a regional conference series to be very interesting and really love that approach to partner with sister associations. We learned a lot from that. The buildup of coming back to Indy for the conference and striking the right balance of that hybrid dynamic. So, all of that is interesting because there's nothing that we can look back to what we've done before oftentimes. So, you're constantly charting new territories.
Julie Groves: What would you say are the things you're most proud of about your year as president?
Courtney Davis Curtis: Well, I think we're always really strategic about the goals and objectives that we try to strive for in a year. Making sure that they're obtainable. We're really aggressive with it, but I think we really strike the right balance this year and we're able to achieve most of 'em. I have a particular fondness for strategic goal four, which is about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Uh, I lead that task force, but I think we've done some new things and really are able to continue in this path and trajectory. Of, um, you know, being intentional with what we did, creating scholarship and opportunities for institutions, individual members, and students, and really excited to see that representation of diversity from a variety of perspectives at the national conference. So, I was really just excited about the culmination of all those activities, much of which we've been working on throughout the years.
Julie Groves: What would you say if you were to think about your hopes for URMIA's future? What? What would they look?
Courtney Davis Curtis: We have such a power in the information and resources that we provide for our members along with the community and really translating that power into more accessible information to, to kind of help us with our professional development. I think we've got a lot of. That really help people all stages of their career. And I think as we continue with our education plan and our new learning specialists, that there's gonna be some really exciting ways to, exciting and new ways, I should say, to, to bring that forth to our members that will help them and their professional careers. I just think there's such a power of the community and knowledge and just bringing those together through technology and other means is, is really gonna be part of the future of the organize.
Julie Groves: Well, and you know, when, whenever you-
Courtney Davis Curtis: It's been apart the past too, quite frankly.
Julie Groves: Right. And, and when you hear people talk about, I, one of the things they often mention is the power of the community. So, I think you're, you're exactly right. And so, it's gonna be exciting to see how that continues to grow over the coming years. So, Courtney, I know you're also the chair of, i's Leadership Development Committees. Can you tell, uh, the listeners a little bit about that committee?
Courtney Davis Curtis: Absolutely. So, one of my main roles as the immediate past president is to lead our leadership development committee. It is a group of individuals who we actually started meeting already. Interesting enough, this year we really wanna take a good viewpoint and perspective of our elections process to nominate the next members, board, including the president-elect for the organization to make sure that the information we are providing to our members is adequate to assess the candidate slate that those who are interested in being nominated have the information to appreciate what the role and response the abilities are related to serving on the board or as president-elect. And to make sure that process is representative of, you know, a democratic process, if you will. Uh, having the members vote on those who they'd like to see in those positions. So not only are we meeting to speak about the process itself to see if there's any enhancements we can make in the short and long run. But then we start to really reach out to members to help nominate individuals to apply for the board role or the president-elect role. See who's interested in serving in this capacity, really trying to get out and meet with individuals, speak with individuals. So, this is really a year in process before it leads up to that summer election. And then also making sure that those individuals who are interested complete the form or nominate someone so that we can be ready for the election in the next cycle.
Julie Groves: So, if any of our listeners decide they would like to be president of URMIA one day, what advice would you give them? How would they go about first doing that first?
Courtney Davis Curtis: Yeah. No, no problem. I would definitely say do it and start any way you can to get involved and engaged in the organization from micro volunteer opportunities to serving on a community, a committee or task force. Annual conference committees are always a great way to start, but there's so many other ways. And work your way to the board, really generate ideas and be a steward for, you know, education risk management. Raise your hand for any opportunity to volunteer. I mean that's even at the annual conference and regional conferences to moderate, to work the registration. Get out and meet the people. Be active on the list-serve. I mean, just being present and people getting familiar with you. Your expertise or domain and the value you add in generating new ideas, I think will serve anyone well. Whether you wanna be the president or on the board, or just want to help advance the discipline that we are all committed to are great ways to start.
Julie Groves: That's great advice. And now hopefully you have a little bit more free time in your schedule when you're not planning four-year-old birthday parties. So, what are your plans now? Obviously, you'll continue to be involved in URMIA. You're the immediate past president. Courtney comes to the board meetings, and she says she's still very involved, so we will see her a lot. Since that, since you're not serving as president, what, what are you filling your time with now?
Courtney Davis Curtis: Well, literally the week after the conference in Indiana, I started my executive MBA program through Chicago Booth.
Julie Groves: Congratulations.
Courtney Davis Curtis: So, I, I was in school yes. A glutton for punishment. So, I, I filled the time that I spent with URMIA with the task that is, even more time than the time for URMIA. But I'm really excited about that, and I'm still committed to other boards that I have responsibilities for as well. But you know, I've kind of made myself this career long learner and hopefully the things that I learned through this program, I'll be able to serve, you know, URMIA into the future and other organizations as well with a new skill set.
Julie Groves: Are, are your MBA classes, are they weekend concentrated? Is it that kind of thing? Or is it nighttime? What, when do the, when, what is the class schedule?
Courtney Davis Curtis: It's every other Friday and Saturday for 22 months.
Julie Groves: Oh, wow.
Courtney Davis Curtis: In terms of the actual class time.
Julie Groves: Wow.
Courtney Davis Curtis: But I probably spend 10 to 15 hours, if not more, each week between homework, studying, meeting with my groups. It is more than I thought.
Julie Groves: And is any of it in person or is it all virtual now since we can do that so easily.
Courtney Davis Curtis: We are in person.
Julie Groves: Oh, wow. So, well that's good though because I feel-
Courtney Davis Curtis: I'm fortunate to be in Chicago.
Julie Groves: Yes. And I feel like when you're in a school setting like that, it's better to, you know, really get to know your classmates in person. I think it helps with that collaborative nature, and that's what school is supposed to be about. So, well, congratulations and good luck with that. So, you, you have what, 20 months left in your program?
Courtney Davis Curtis: Yes. A long time.
Julie Groves: Oh, it'll go, it'll go quickly. I think it'll go quickly. Well, before we wrap up, do you have any last thoughts you wanna share? Any parting advice for people or anything you wanna add in closing?
Courtney Davis Curtis: Yeah, I just one wanna thank you know all the members and the national office for the support over the years and the faith in having me serve as president. There's a team of individuals who are actively involved and engaged and it's a big team. Fortunately, with us having over the 2,800 members and an amazing national office staff to make these things achieve. So just wanna thank everyone for that role and hope that we continue to be as engaged and and meet our strategic goals going into the future. And just everyone should dive in deep and get involved in the organization, share your ideas. We do listen and, and I hope that everyone really appreciates the things that we're doing. And the last bit of advice I would have is I hope that anytime we send out information, that people review it, and anytime we send out a survey that people take it because we are a member organization, and we just love to hear from you. And that's what's just gonna make us better into the future.
Julie Groves: Well, great. And again, on behalf of URMIA, thank you for years of service to the board, your extended term as president-elect. And thank you for your hard work last year as president and we really, really appreciate it and the organization will be better for it. And we're glad you're sticking around. And, uh, so we will see you at conferences and thanks for being our guest on our podcast today. So, this wraps another episode of URMIA Matters.