The CAUDIT Leadership Institute began its life as the CAUDIT-CAUSE Institute, changing its name, prior to the first event, when CAUSE and EDUCOM amalgamated in 1998. It was based on aspects of the two Institutes run by CAUSE - the Management and Leadership Institutes. Some CAUDIT members had attended US-based Institutes and had commented on its value. The CAUDIT Executive noted that it was too expensive for most of the target audience in ANZ to attend and it was decided to establish similar events in Australia.
The inaugural faculty was selected by the CAUDIT Executive with the assistance of Richard Katz, an EDUCAUSE Vice-President, and comprised four US personnel who had participated actively in the CAUSE Institutes, and four Australians selected by the CAUDIT Executive.
The logistics of the Institute were managed by the CAUDIT Executive Officer who recommended a venue (Salamander Shores, at Soldiers Point, north of Newcastle in NSW.
The initial faculty met for two days at Stanford University in June 1998, where the program for the Institute was planned, and roles assigned. Geoff Dengate, one of the initiators of the CAUDIT-EDUCAUSE Institutes, attended a CAUSE Leadership Institute the week before this planning meeting in order to have a better understanding of the format of the event and to inform the planning meeting of areas that might need to be "Australianised". The early program followed that of the CAUSE Management Institute, with some minor modifications. It started, and has remained, as a four and a half day event, commencing on a Sunday afternoon and concluding on the following Thursday at lunchtime. It is a residential event, and all members of the faculty remain on site, and participate actively, for the duration of the Institute. Faculty donate their time and effort free of charge, and the registration fees paid by the delegates are designed to cover only the costs of faculty travel, venue, material and logistics costs, all accommodation and (almost) all meals.
Originally, CAUDIT agreed to cover some of the costs, and a budget line item for this purpose was retained for several years. However, the objective, achieved early, was to make the Institute self-supporting.
The first Institute was attended by 40 delegates, and subsequent Institutes, with one exception, have reached the limit of 40 which was set in the early days. It had been found that this number provided a good balance of institutional representation, while also preserving the highly personalised nature of the event. However, in 2009 the number was increased to 42, it having been realised that this would make for more even distribution into Case Study teams of 6 or 7, rather than the numbers which had been tried previously.
After a year or two, the CAUDIT Executive placed some limits on the numbers of attendees from single institutions to ensure diversity. And later still it was opened up to CAUL and ACODE members on a limited basis.
The first two Institutes were held at Salamander Shores, a venue which provided effectively a private location, as typically very few others were in residence in the resort. Its principal drawbacks were the distance from an airport, making travel logistics somewhat complex, meeting rooms which, while adequate, were not ideal, and an almost complete lack of general facilities in the area (for example only one restaurant, Chinese, within walking distance). In the third year, it was decided to select a more westerly location, partly in an attempt to attract delegates from the Western Australian universities, who had been noticeably lacking at the first two events and partly to avoid any travel problems caused by the Summer Olympics in Sydney in the year 2000. The Stamford Grand Hotel at Glenelg, South Australia (an Adelaide suburb) was selected and used. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, this did not prove successful. The reasons for the lack of success included:
- as the Stamford Grand was a much larger venue the sense of intimacy, a major factor in the Institute's continuing success was lost
- the decision was made, as Glenelg is rich in restaurants, to give the delegates two "free" evenings (Monday and Tuesday) rather than none at Salamander Shores, and some delegates did not manage to connect with others on the Monday, thus being left on their own
- the new venue did not attract anyone from Western Australia
The Institute returned to Salamander Shores for a further two years.
Considerable logistical support was provided by a member of staff at Newcastle University in the early years, principally preparation of all materials and arrangement of printing. This was discontinued after 2002, when all such work was taken over by the CAUDIT Executive Officer.
After 2002, the Institute moved to the Calypso Plaza Resort at Coolangatta, Queensland. This venue had a number of advantages: it is close to a major airport which has direct flights from most major Australian cities and also from New Zealand, it is surrounded by restaurants and other facilities and its general ambience is very pleasant. Its disadvantages are that it is quite a large resort so there is not the feeling of "ownership" which Salamander Shores engendered and one of the only two meeting rooms, while just adequate, was the cause of many grumbles from delegates and faculty. (Calypso Plaza is nonetheless a much more suitable venue than the Stamford Grand at Glenelg). As a result, in 2007 a room was utilised in a nearby venue, which proved very satisfactory. In 2008, the management of the Calypso Plaza decided to discontinue provision of conference facilities, so while delegates and faculty continued to be accommodated there, the function rooms used were at the Twin Towns Resort, a few minutes' walk distant. This arrangement is continued in 2009. At Coolangatta the policy of scheduling one "free" evening (Tuesday) was instituted and has been quite successful.
One of the innovations introduced to the Institute after the early years is the "Three Things" postcards. These are postcard-sized, and postcard-like on which each delegate is asked to write three things they intend to implement as a result of their attendance at the Institute. These cards were held by the Institute Administrator, who mailed them, in envelopes, to the delegates, unread by anyone, a few months after the Institute, so each delegate is able to check whether they have been able to implement their ideas. At the time, no attempt was made to seek feedback from delegates subsequently.
For a time, every second year, all who have attended an Institute are invited to a reunion held during the biennial EDUCAUSE Australasia Conference (renamed to THETA from 2011 onwards). This event attracted a modest attendance, but is appeared to be valued by those who do attended, faculty and delegates alike.
Some of the lighter sides of the Institute are remembered fondly by some of the faculty as:
- the "inbuilt gym" in Salamander Shores - the long trudge up the stairs that impacted some of our faculty members
- the Calypso Plaza low ceiling which caused more than one re-orientation of the room to improve audibility
- the sense of community that came from being isolated by Salamander Shores and the contrast in Glenelg when we were diffuse, often intermingled with attendees at other events in neighbouring rooms
- the location of wine shops which became a selection factor for the optimal Institute restaurant locations in Coolangatta.
in 2013 and 2014 the Insitute was held in Kingscliffe, NSW. 2015 saw a change of scenery with a move to Sanctuary Cove, Queensland.
See appendix 4 for information about locations and membership of the faculty.