Cecilia Olivares, NACADA President
As June starts, we are at the midpoint of 2021. We have surpassed the one-year mark of the abrupt shifts in teaching, learning, and service operations at most institutions around the world due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many of our campuses are currently finalizing reopening plans for the next academic year. Similarly, NACADA has had a full year of only virtual professional development offerings and continues to gauge the public health guidelines in the locations of our planned in-person events this fall, including the annual conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The first half of 2021 has felt like a period of ongoing transition for NACADA and, like any other life transition, it has felt uncomfortable and stressful yet hopeful and exciting. This month we officially welcome Dr. Melinda Anderson into her new role as Executive Director of NACADA: The Global Association for Academic Advising, following the retirement announcement of Dr. Charlie Nutt. As we move into a new era of leadership in the NACADA Executive Office, I want to acknowledge and thank Dr. Debbie Mercer and Dr. Ken Hughey from the College of Education at Kansas State University for guiding the association through this transition. There are many benefits to NACADA’s partnership and memorandum of understanding with K-State, including the leadership of Dr. Mercer as Dean of the College of Education and Dr. Hughey as chair of the search committee for the new executive director. Our appreciation also extends to the members of the search committee for their time and energy to review applications, participate in interviews, and provide feedback in the hiring process: Brian Buckwald (CUNY Hunter College), Maxine Coffey (NACADA), JP Regalado (NACADA Past President), Dr. Lisa Rubin (Kansas State University), Jessica Staten (Indiana University Bloomington), Ashley Thomas (NACADA), Farrah Turner (NACADA), and Dr. Dana Zahorik (Fox Valley Technical College).
The middle part of the year is also the transition period between elections in February and the induction of new NACADA leadership at the annual conference in October. Thank you to all who nominated candidates, ran for an elected position, and voted in this year’s elections. In particular, I would like to congratulate incoming president Dr. Kyle Ross (Oregon State University) and incoming vice president Michelle Smith Ware (University of St. Thomas) and welcome the incoming members to the Board of Directors—Dr. Quentin Alexander (George Mason University), Dr. Zoranna Jones (Texas Christian University), Dr. Locksley Knibbs (Florida Atlantic University), and Dr. Kimberly Smith (Virginia Tech)—and the Council—Gavin Farber (Temple University), Dr. Leah Panganiban (University of Washington), and Dr. Cynthia Pascal (Northern Virginia Community College). As part of the onboarding process, all six participated in mid-year meetings with the current Board and Council members in April.
This year’s mid-year meetings find us in the continued development of the new mission, vision, and strategic goals for the association, which we hope to finalize by vote early this fall and prioritizing recommendations of the Region Review and Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion (REI) Working Group for implementation. Their reports indicated that our current structure may not fit the diverse needs of our global membership, as the last time NACADA underwent a restructure was in 2001 when we had 4000 members. Therefore, in our most recent meeting, the Board voted to approve one of the recommendations brought forward by both groups—a structural audit of the association by an external consultant. The Board will identify a working group to guide the consultant review and selection process, including a detailed charge for the consultant. This charge will include consideration for diversity, equity, and inclusion needs as shared by the Region Review team and REI Working Group. Having our newest Board and Council leaders involved in the current conversations, decisions, and action planning during the transition period is vital to the continuity and sustainability of work from one Board and Council to the next, and we are excited to have these wonderful leaders involved in this important work over the next four months.
Our association runs on the talent, passion, and energy of dedicated volunteers around the world, with the support of the NACADA Executive Office staff and the College of Education at Kansas State University. Despite uncertainty and challenges that we have experienced collectively and individually over the past year, I am inspired by and confident in the incredible colleagues who are leading us through significant changes within the association, and I am so excited to see how much further we progress over the next few months.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that that ever has.” —Margaret Mead
Cecilia Olivares, President, 2020–2021
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Director of Transfer Center & First Generation Student Initiatives
Interim Director of Discovery Center
University of Missouri-Columbia