Amy Sannes, NACADA President
The NACADA Board of Directors has made it a priority to facilitate avenues for our members to provide feedback and input on the work of the Association. This has typically been accomplished through the Town Hall meetings every October at NACADA’s Annual Conference. In addition to this in-person format, the Board wanted to provide an opportunity for members not able to attend the Annual Conference to be engaged in the discussion. This year NACADA offered its first ever series of three Virtual Town Hall meetings. Board members Shannon Burton and Kerry Kincanon created an amazing virtual format featuring NACADA leadership sharing information regarding Board projects and then responding to member questions. Another avenue to connect with members has been the “Friday with NACADA” emails in which I have addressed questions and areas of interest to the membership.
The President’s column in Academic Advising Today has been committed to updating the membership on one of the Town Hall topic areas. This edition will focus on NACADA’s Strategic Goals and the recently approved benchmarks. There were so many questions in the Town Halls revolving around the roles of the Board and Council and the process involved in establishing the benchmarks, that it was clear this would be a good place to start this edition’s discussion.
The NACADA Board of Directors is the official governing body of the Association and is responsible for the strategic vision. The Board is guided by the strategic goals and is responsible for the allocation of resources. There are nine voting members on the Board: the President, Vice President, and seven Directors. The Executive Director also serves on the Board as a non-voting member. The Council represents NACADA’s three divisions which include the Administrative, the Regional, and the newly named Advising Communities divisions. The Council has five members, including representatives from each of the three Divisions, the Vice President, and the Executive Director. The Council members receive recommendations from the Divisions, review the issues, and take the recommendations to the Board for approval for implementation.
Last year, under the direction of then NACADA President Dana Zahorik and Executive Director Charlie Nutt, the Board and the Council took on the task of creating the benchmarks to help provide focus for obtaining NACADA’s seven strategic goals. Executive Director Nutt encouraged the Board to look beyond the upcoming year and to plan forward five years as the Board developed the benchmarks. The Board utilized input from committees, regions, and commission and interest groups as they further refined each benchmark.
In September of 2017, the benchmarks and revised strategic goals were approved by the Board of Directors. The Board then established timelines and determined the appropriate membership group to move each benchmark forward. Every benchmark has at least one chair to guide the implementation and also a Board member to act as a liaison. The Board understands that the membership needs to be the ones to move the benchmark implementation forward; this grass roots focus is the basis of the Association. It is important to keep in mind that the individuals doing the work in these teams are all volunteers and have full-time careers back at their home institutions. The Board has agreed that even though timelines have been established to move the work forward, the benchmark document is a fluid document and may need to be revised based on the progress of the group responsible for the benchmark.
The entire document noting the benchmarks for each of the seven strategic goals is now posted on NACADA’s website. The remainder of this article will focus on a select group of benchmarks that are in the early stages of implementation and that the Board will be focusing on during the midyear meeting later in March. It is important to note that even though strategic goals are numbered for ease of referencing, this does not imply any intention of priority.
Expand and communicate the scholarship of academic advising is Strategic Goal 1. The NACADA Center for Research at Kansas State University was officially opened at the 2017 Annual Conference. Wendy Troxel, the Director of the Center, has established (with Board approval) fairly aggressive benchmarks to move forward NACADA’s research agenda. It is important to note that the Research Committee, under the direction of Sarah Champlin-Scharff, has been closely involved to ensure member input in all the work relating to the scholarship of academic advising. The benchmarks related to this goal address consumers of research and also active involvement in research.
Strategic Goal 2 states: Provide professional development opportunities that are responsive to the needs of advisors and advising administrators. Through the three accompanying benchmarks, the Board has set up this goal in a three step process and charged the Professional Development Committee (PDC), under the direction of Teri Farr, to lead the implementation. First, the committee will conduct a gap analysis to determine unmet needs, wants, activities, and services for all types of academic advisors and advising administrators. Second, the PDC will review the gap analysis results and submit a report with recommendations to the Board at the 2018 Annual Conference. Third, once the recommendations are approved by the Board, over the following three years, the PDC will develop a plan with budgetary needs to implement the approved action plans.
Foster inclusive practices within the Association that respect the principle of equity and the diversity of advising professionals across the vast array of intersections of identity is the revised wording for Strategic Goal 4. It is apparent to the Board that in order to move this goal forward we need to assess the current climate of inclusivity and equity within the Association. The Board has asked Michele Ware, Oscar Van den Wijngaard, and Sarah Champlin-Scharff to lead a formal subcommittee to develop a plan to assess the climate of the Association. The next step for this subcommittee will be to analyze the results and develop an action plan to present to the Board.
Strategic Goal 5 states: Develop and sustain effective Association leadership. The benchmarks for this goal contain two distinct charges. In the first benchmark, the Board has charged the Sustainable Leadership Committee (SLC), under the leadership of Janet Spence, to move forward the SLC’s idea of a leadership academy to provide leadership training and support for potential and newly elected NACADA leaders.
A second benchmark under goal five charges a formal subcommittee to review the various challenges members face when moving into elected and appointed leadership positions. Averaged out over the past four election cycles, only half of the members nominated actually run for or accepted an appointed position. The Board decided it was a priority to determine if our election processes were causing unnecessary stumbling blocks for members to run for leadership position. Board member Brody Broshears was asked to gather members from various groups to review the nomination/election process and prepare a report for the Board for the midyear meeting.
The work outlined above is a huge commitment and the Board appreciates the work that the Chairs and their members are putting into moving the benchmarks forward this year. The Association needs our members to participate in surveys and assessments as these are implemented in order for us to have a true picture of our membership and what we need to do to make this Association work for all members. Please take the opportunity to respond to requests for information and have your voice heard.
This discussion briefly touched on a few of the benchmarks that are currently underway; however, there are several additional areas of work that will be moving forward in the future. The other resources discussing the Strategic Goals and the accompanying benchmarks include: the Strategic Goals Virtual Town hall recording, the associated questions and responses to the Virtual Town Hall, and the entire 2017 approved Strategic Goal/Benchmark document.
The Board is committed to transparency as we move forward. The Board and Council will be reviewing the information gathered in all the Town Hall formats during their midyear meeting in March and plan to utilize member input to further guide our work. Feel free to contact any of the chairs listed above with comments regarding the benchmarks or contact Executive Director Charlie Nutt (firstname.lastname@example.org) or President Sannes (email@example.com).
Amy Sannes, President, 2017-2018
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Associate Director, Academic Services
Arizona State University
Department of Psychology
Cite this article using APA style as: Sannes, A. (2018, March). From the president: Conversation on NACADA strategic goals and benchmarks. Academic Advising Today, 41(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]