Erin Justyna, NACADA President
When I was growing up in El Paso, Texas in the late eighties and early nineties, I never imagined what the year 2020 would be like—I was focused on whatever was directly ahead of me. I feel certain, if I had tried to picture 2020 all those years ago, I would not have conjured up images of communication devices on our wrists, cars that drive themselves, and apps that allow us to digitally split the cost of a pizza or listen to any song we might desire instantly. In many ways it feels like we live in an entirely new universe from the one in which I grew up—where I waited for a song to come on the radio so I could press record on my tape recorder, passed notes in class to chat with friends, spun a plastic wheel to make calls on a land line, and used an enormous printed book to find the phone number and coupon to order my pizza.
Similarly, I imagine the founders of NACADA did not envision all the changes the association would undergo in the 40 short years of its existence: from 429 members in the US and Canada in 1979 to 14,203 members in 37 countries today; annual conferences with attendances nearing 4,000; ever-growing state, regional, and international conferences; robust web resources and a multitude of online (synchronous and asynchronous) learning opportunities.
It is in this new world that the Executive Office and Board of Directors find themselves working assiduously to adapt and innovate—not only to better serve our current members, but also our future members. It can be difficult to move past the things that need to be done now, the things directly ahead of us, but we are holding ourselves accountable to do just that. In my last column, I mentioned a desire to employ radical transparency throughout my year as President. As such, I want to share with you a snapshot of the some of the work occurring throughout the association.
The role of the Board of Directors is not to do the work of the association, but rather to focus on strategic vision and planning. Approximately five years ago, the Board of Directors updated the association’s strategic goals and created benchmarks and measures to guide the work of the Executive Office and NACADA’s three divisions (administrative, regional, advising communities). We have now begun the process not only of gauging our progress towards these goals, but also of reevaluating the goals themselves. In addition, a full review of all NACADA policies was completed, and a bylaws review will soon begin.
In light of the growth and changes in the association, the members of the Board of Directors are looking with new eyes at the experience of new members, digging into what it really means to be a global association, and examining critically the association’s structure and processes to determine what needs to remain and what needs to change.
The Region Division was initially asked by the Board of Directors to examine NACADA’s region structure and how well it is serving members in 2017. After several preliminary meetings and conversations, the group received a formal charge to review the region structure from the Board in January 2018. The review was to determine how to provide the best possible professional development to members and include reflection on what it means to be a global organization in relationship to the regional structure.
The group conducted a member survey in mid-November 2018, held in-person focus groups at region conferences and international conferences, and held online focus groups using the Zoom meeting platform from February to May 2019. The Region Review Work Group is currently compiling data and preparing a final report for the Board of Director’s midyear meeting, which will occur April 17–19, 2020.
Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion
The Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion has begun their work. The task force has had two initial meetings and is currently formulating a plan for how they will engage in their work. The NACADA Executive Office (EO), with support of the Board of Directors, has begun a search for a project manager to assist with logistics and provide support to NACADA members who are graciously giving their time on the task force. An interim project manager has been assigned from the EO to provide support to the task force until the search concludes. The Board and EO are also looking at the best mechanism for moving the task force (which can only be appointed for one year by the sitting President) into a more long-term work group. Members of the Board and the EO recognize the gravity of the task with which we have charged this group and want to ensure they have the resources and time to work with urgency but not haste.
Professional Development Gap Analysis
The Board of Directors charged the Professional Development Committee (PDC) with initiating a gap analysis to review unmet needs, wants, activities, and services for all types of academic advisors and advising administrators during the 2017 Annual Conference. The PDC is finalizing a report for the Board of Directors, outlining the findings of the gap analysis they performed to determine what professional development needs exist that are not currently being met. The final gap analysis report, including recommendations by the PDC, will be presented for discussion and review during the Board of Director’s midyear meeting.
As an association, we work tirelessly to evolve as fast as our world. Sometimes, the goals we set and tasks we undertake seem as though they take too long, but we acknowledge that we must not move so quickly as to be reckless. A great deal of the work is reliant on members volunteering their time above and beyond their other work and personal responsibilities. But we cannot despair, we must only continue to work. Together, we will continue to challenge ourselves to meet the challenges of 2020 and beyond.
Erin Justyna, President, 2019–2020
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Assistant Provost for Student Affairs
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Cite this article using APA style as: Justyna, E. (2020, March). From the president: Envisioning the future of NACADA. Academic Advising Today, 43(1). [insert url here]