Lew Conner, Beyond the Bow Tie

By Stan Jakubik posted 04-02-2018 08:32 AM


What creates and sustains successful organizations?  Is it funding? Structure? Mission? You can argue for all of these, but the most important factor, especially in volunteer organizations, is its people – people who provide their commitment, drive, and just plain hard work.  All successful volunteer organizations can point to widespread involvement by many members who share the organization’s goals.  However, there is also a need for key leaders to form and direct that involvement; leaders who can channel those disparate efforts into actions.  HEUG has seen many leaders over time but since the very early days, there has been one consistent presence whose efforts have driven HEUG from a small group of passionate players to a major international association envied by many for its ability to represent its members throughout the world. 

Lew Conner, HEUG’s first and only Executive Director, brought our associate a range of skills and personal talents that clearly have helped to form the basis of much of what is today’s HEUG.  Lew became involved in HEUG at its outset when he was a PeopleSoft employee charged with coordinating the company’s involvement with a nascent Higher Ed Special Interest Group.  Lew was in a unique position to help form our organization, having had strong higher ed experience before coming to Peoplesoft.  He clearly was “one of us”, understanding our needs and recognizing the value of strong student services.  He was instrumental in moving a small startup group of institutions through the process of becoming, at first, a small association of members with like needs.  When he accepted the role of Executive Director, he moved HEUG through an adolescent period of small steps toward progressively greater organizational sophistication, to the mature HEUG we see today.

Lew is known for his stability and consistency regardless of the circumstances.  In good times and difficult times, his guidance has helped the HEUG Board make the right moves at the right time.  He has provided long-term continuity, critical to a large Board with yearly changes in its membership.  He is a mentor to many, counselor when needed.  He played a particularly critical role during the Great Recession when HEUG had to make major adjustments to its financial relationship with its member institutions, a potentially controversial change that he stewarded through with sensitivity and creativity.  He led HEUG through its complex move to an international presence, helping the Board to understand both the differences and the similarities among more than 35 countries that form the HEUG. 

In recognition of his exceptional contribution to the HEUG over two decades, HEUG has awarded Lew Conner, with our thanks, its Lifetime Achievement Award and granted him the title of Executive Director Emeritus.

We wish Lew the best as he moves on to his next endeavor, and are forever indebted to him for helping building the HEUG into the world class organization it is today.

Stan Jakubik, Past President
Steve Hahn, Past President