Wicked's Core Competencies

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“Wicked,” a musical centered around the relationship of Glinda (the good) and Elphaba (a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West), provides a number of lessons related to the 11 core competencies ACUI has identified for college union and student activities professionals. The play begins in a university setting, where the two young women meet and the eight central characters of the production display proficiencies and deficiencies, good and wicked, of the core competencies throughout the production, allowing you to reflect on your own identification to situations and characters portrayed on the stage.

Let’s walk through some of the 11 core competencies in action without giving away any surprises for those who haven’t yet seen this engaging show.

Communication: “Wicked” is rife with communication mishaps and failures, reminding us the importance of investigating what we have heard, before making rash decisions or offering misinformed opinions, as well as the importance of sharing accurate and timely communication among our colleagues and students.

Human Resources Development: Madame Morrible, the headmistress at Shiz University where Glinda and Elphaba first meet, provides an unsettling staff management decision that gives one pause to ponder how we sometimes we allow our own prejudices to cloud our judgment.

Student Learning: Despite her shortcomings, Madame Morrible sets specific learning outcomes for her star pupils and provides the necessary instruction and resources to ensure they succeed. She demonstrates the importance of developing and implementing a plan to provide students with the opportunities necessary to gain skills needed to be successful.

Intercultural Proficiencies: Dr. Dillamond, a professor at Shiz University, provides Elphaba with an invaluable lesson on the importance of intercultural proficiencies as a basis for preventing oppression. Glinda also learns to look beyond her ivory tower to see worth in others who are different than her.

Management: The Wizard and Madame Moribble provide examples of management that are often counter to what they outwardly state as the goals for the communities they lead.

Facilities Management: The Wizard realizes the importance of facility management skills in maintaining the Utopia-like atmosphere of the Emerald City.

Technology: In Oz, as on our campuses, the use and misuse of technology can impact the way we serve our constituents. In "Wicked," witchcraft as technology provides an interesting reflection on how we can represent ourselves and our departments in a flattering and unflattering light, depending on the use of the technology.

Marketing: The power of marketing is displayed in a most unflattering vein in "Wicked." Several key characters use their power and influence to create marketing campaigns to win constituents to a plan for personal gain. Again, we learn how powerful words and images can become when used for good or wicked.

Leadership: The key characters provide lessons of “good” and “wicked” leadership throughout every act. The Wizard; Madame Moribble; Dr. Dillamond; Nessarose; and the handsome young prince Fiyero, provide an insight into the powerful impact of leadership, both good and wicked. The evolution of the leadership skills of Glinda and Elphaba are similar to the evolution of skills we often observe in our own student leaders.

Planning: Elphaba and Fiyero are two characters who demonstrate the importance of a “good plan of attack” when each is faced with a problem. Madame Morribble and the Wizard, employ Glinda in executing their strategic plan for the future of Oz. Regardless of the outcome of the plans, we learn the importance of developing and implementing a strategic plan and how it can affect the future.

As we often tell our colleagues and students, there are learning opportunities and educational moments everywhere, this is certainly true in the case of “good” verses “wicked” you will observe as you participate in the thought-provoking experience of the “Wicked” preconference session. Check out the Wicked promotional videos online.

Updated Dec. 17, 2009
Updated Dec. 17, 2009