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Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty, NACADA Executive Director Emeritus

Bobbie Flaherty.jpgIt was late in the fall of 1978 when Frank, Billie, Toni, and Bobbie engaged in a telephone conversation about the management of the 1979 NACADA national conference. Toni Trombley had hosted a national conference on academic advising in Burlington, Vermont, in 1977, and Frank Dyer had hosted a second one in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1978. These conferences led to the grassroots movement to establish the National Academic Advising Association, which was being incorporated in Vermont; leaders were preparing to hold the first Association-sponsored conference. Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty was Director of Conferences for Kansas State University (KSU) and was planning a bid to manage the conference for the Association in Omaha in October 1979. Billie Jacobini was to become the first Association secretary. That first meeting between Bobbie and the Association leaders eventually led to the KSU Conference Office managing all but one of the Association’s national conferences from 1979 thru 1990. It also led to interest at KSU in housing the NACADA Executive Office in 1989.

InDean Michael Holen.jpg early 1988, the NACADA Board of Directors recognized the need to establish an Executive Office to handle the Association’s ever growing membership and financial tasks. This set into motion a plan to fund an Executive Office and solicit bids for hosting it within a higher education institution. The Board issued a request for proposals and distributed it throughout the Association. Bids were received and among them was one from Kansas State University’s College of Education, prepared by (then) Associate Dean Michael Holen and Bobbie Flaherty. Dean Holen made the generous offer to provide space, furniture, and salary assistance.

The NACADA Executive Office selection committee visited Dean Holen at KSU and determined that with Bobbie Flaherty serving as Executive Director, KSU would be the site of the NACADA Executive Office.  The Executive Office was established in two offices in Bluemont Hall on the KSU campus on July 1, 1990, when NACADA membership stood at 2400. Bobbie Flaherty was Executive Director and Joan Kohake was Secretary. NACADA’s Immediate Past President, Gary Kramer, was assigned to serve as liaison to the office and made it clear that the Executive Office’s only tasks for the first year would be to coordinate membership records and renewals and assume responsibility for all financial transactions of the Association. Bobbie traveled to Muncie, Indiana, to learn about and transfer the membership records system and financial records from (then) Association Treasurer, Mike McCauley. Bank accounts were transferred to a Manhattan, Kansas bank as well.

Nancy Barnes.jpgWhile establishing procedures during the first year, Bobbie knew the financial advantage of managing the Annual Conference and began the planning needed for the Executive Office to assume its management. The Board approved hiring Nancy Barnes on a half-time appointment to coordinate the Conference. A student from KSU Hotel and Restaurant Management Program was an intern who assisted with the meeting planning details, and Dean Holen provided a graduate assistant to work in the Executive Office. As time went on additional responsibilities were transferred to the Executive Office, and NACADA membership continued to grow.

By 1995, membership had grown to 4400, and the Executive Office managed the Summer Institute, debuted the NACADA Web site, and coordinated production of the NACADA Journal. Diane Matteson was the first of several employees hired to assist with the expanding responsibilities of the Executive Office; responsibilities that allowed volunteers to focus on providing leadership rather than labor. As the Association grew, so did the need for coordination of services to members. Gradually the Executive Office expanded to include current employees: Rhonda Baker, Judy Weyrauch, Julia Wolf, Bev Martin, Charlie Nutt, Marsha Miller, Cara Wohler, Leigh Cunningham, Farrah Turner, Gary Cunningham, Maxine Coffey, Victor Holt, Michelle Holaday, Jennifer Rush, and a cadre of student assistants.  A partnership with NCAA added Jenifer Scheibler.

Bobbie Flaherty & Charlie Nutt.jpgIn 2007, Bobbie Flaherty became Executive Director Emeritus and began a five-year phased retirement. Charlie Nutt took over the reins as Executive Director. In 2009, the Executive Office handles:

  • 10,000+ memberships
  • a database supporting the management of the Association
  • administration of the Association’s Web site and listservs
  • NACADA Journal coordination and printing of the semi-annual
  • development of the monthly “Highlights”
  • Academic Advising Today coordination and distribution of the Association e-zine,
  • annual Association elections
  • the Speakers and Consultants Service
  • support to the Board of Directors and  Council
  • coordination of 23 Commissions and 18 Interest Groups
  • liaison to 10 Regions and regional conference assistance
  • development and delivery of Webcasts
  • coordination or publication of professional books, monographs, videos, CDs, DVDs, and pocket guides
  • marketing of Association products and services
  • NACADA Clearinghouse on Academic Advising Resources coordination, expansion, and updates to the
  • maintenance of the Association’s archives
  • management of the Annual Conference for over 3,000 attendees
  • Flaherty2.jpgmanagement of two Summer Institutes on Academic Advising, an Administrators’ Institute, and an Assessment of Advising Institute, along with a winter Seminar
  • member inquiries for information
  • the Association annual budget of over $2 million.

Most importantly, the staff of Executive Office strives to provide the most efficient, effective, and friendly service to NACADA members! 

Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty
Kansas State University

Cite this article using APA style as: Flaherty, R. (2009, September). Evolution of NACADA's executive office. Academic Advising Today, 32(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.