posted on November 27, 2018 01:01
Karen Archambault, NACADA President
The 2018–19 Board of Directors and Council ended the 2018 Annual Conference in Phoenix with a rich and valuable discussion about relationships—our relationships to each other, to the association, and to the membership. After the conference had ended, some members went to twitter to talk about what they gained from attendance: more than a few spoke of relationships. In my last “Fridays with NACADA” writing, I called on all of you to nominate and vote; one of the implicit questions in that, though, is “what if I don’t want to run for a position?” The answer to that is in how we relate to each other, and here, I’d like to specifically answer that question with a call on all of us to strengthen our relationships with advising and within the association.
In his best-selling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2006) argued that truly transformative ideas make their way around the globe as a result of people who are uniquely adept at connecting the right people to the right information. Connectors, he said, bring people together. Mavens, on the other hand, have the right knowledge at the right time to pass along, and Salespeople are particularly skilled at convincing those who are uninformed.
One of the greatest strengths of the greatest advisors I have seen is in their ability to serve these roles. As connectors, they connect students with colleagues through relationships they form across their campuses and across the globe; they don’t just send a student away with a referral, but they make a soft handoff to a person they know will serve the student well. As mavens, they are highly knowledgeable about their content, be it academic, campus, or community; the best advisors are the experts on campus and the information they share is prized because it is accurate and comprehensive and because their opinions are well-informed and convincing. As salespeople, the best advisors convince those across their campuses that advising is core to student success and that advising well done is not only valuable but essential to the success of their campuses.
As professionals, we serve similar roles for NACADA. We find connections between those we meet, finding the right person to support or inform a colleague. We have content experts who, regardless of the specifics of the subject matter, serve as go-to people because we all feel confident that they know their stuff. And we have salespeople who share the message of the association, convincing those around them that there is value in what NACADA brings to the profession.
Without a doubt, there are those within NACADA who have served all of these roles for me—they are my teachers and my mentors and providers of knowledge, community, and drive when my own is lacking. But for newer members to the association (or to those who are considering membership) those in these roles may be harder to identify; this is even more true for those who do not immediately feel a sense of belonging within the association, whether that is for reasons of personal identity, experience, or both. In the coming months, there will be a myriad of ways to connect to colleagues—through listservs, facebook groups, and at regional and local/state conferences amongst others. I encourage you to use these opportunities to bring people together as connectors, especially those whose voices represent the diversity so needed by the organization.
The greatest strength of this association is not in its knowledge, its professional development, or its advocacy for student success, but in its membership. How well that strength is utilized depends on us all.
Karen Archambault, President, 2018-2019
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Vice President, Enrollment Management & Student Success
Rowan College at Burlington County