Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director
Thanks again to Amy Sannes and the hardworking conference committee from Region 6 for the outstanding work that you did in making this year’s conference in Minneapolis truly outstanding, not only in size but also in the high-quality preconference workshops, concurrent sessions, and poster sessions. Also, as always, many kudos go to Rhonda Baker and Farrah Turner in the Executive Office for the hard work and long hours they put into making the annual conference so successful every year along with all the Executive Office staff!
We are now home after four days of outstanding information and networking. Many of us returned directly to the intensity of Spring registration, while all of us returned to email inboxes overflowing with messages, requests, and questions, and voice mails filling our phones. Were we really gone a month? Aside from the rush of playing catch-up, though, we also returned with our heads and hearts filled with new ideas and initiatives that we are eager to implement to improve our students’ success and pathways to completion. Colleagues and administrators who were not able to attend might not understand or appreciate all this energy we have come home with! So we seem to have two choices: We can sit back and wait for the best time in the future to get involved with our institutions’ culture change to student learning at all levels, or we can prepare to be actively involved in the future of these culture changes. I urge you to choose the second path in preparing for the future, but I know that is easier said than done on some campuses.
So what do we do? Consider the measured, intentional approach exemplified in “One Brick at a Time,” a song from the wonderful musical Barnum about the Barnum & Bailey Circus that debuted on Broadway in 1980. (Calm down, I am not going to sing the song, but you can hear it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4x2CTooSlY.) The song’s message is that we can all soar in our work if we are willing to build our future “one brick at a time.” In that vein, following are some “bricks” that I encourage you to use in preparing for the future now, rather than waiting for the future to arrive:
- By early December, write short summaries of the best presentations you attended in Minneapolis and include two ways the ideas you gained could be incorporated in some way on your campus.
- Find ways to share these ideas – in a staff meeting? Prepare these summaries to be formally shared with administrators in your unit or at the institution? Write a NACADA blog about all you learned in Minneapolis and how you are planning to use this knowledge or these ideas on your campus?
- Work with others from your campus who attended the conference to provide the program for the next meeting of your campus academic advising council or association – maybe through poster sessions or short presentations from all who attended? Perhaps the group of you who attended from your institution could provide examples of culture change that could be accomplished in both the short term and long term based on what you learned?
- Someone (your director, dean, vice president) had to approve your attendance in Minneapolis and fund your attendance. Send the administrator who approved and funded your attendance in Minneapolis (your director, dean, vice president) a personal thank-you email or note, including at least one major thing you gained from the conference and how that one thing could be implemented on your campus to improve student completion. (Be prepared to be asked for other ideas and initiatives and to lead the change based on your idea!)
- Begin now making plans to attend your NACADA region conference and prepare to submit a proposal about the outstanding work being done on your campus.
But it is not just NACADA members who should not be “waiting for the future!” NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising cannot “wait” either – we must also be “preparing for the future.” What are the “bricks” NACADA must use to prepare the Association and the profession for the future?
- Continue to focus on our strategic goal to expand and communicate the scholarship of academic advising in important ways that will prepare NACADA for the future – explore with the College of Education at Kansas State University the creation of a Center for Excellence and Research in Academic Advising? (The NACADA Board approved such an exploratory committee that will be working this year on this concept.) Develop programs that provide members with the skills we all need to conduct research and write research articles? Continue to develop new formats for communicating our work to higher education globally?
- Continue to focus on our strategic goals to create an inclusive environment within the Association that promotes diversity and to develop and sustain effective Association leadership – expand the work of the Sustainable Leadership Committee, Diversity Committee, and Emerging Leader Program?
The key is that none of this can be done in isolation – all of us on our campuses must build stronger partnerships across the institution and with other institutions across the world. NACADA must build and support a strong expectation for research and publication in the field. Additionally, NACADA must build and support powerful initiatives that bring together the profession across the world and that guarantee the leadership of our Association is diverse in all ways.
So come join us in preparing for our future – both on our campuses and in our Association! Bringing about change is magical when done together and done with a clear focus and purpose. Let’s strive to make the work we do in academic advising be the leader of the cultural change needed in higher education in order for our students to successfully complete with a degree!
Barnum clearly encourages us to come together, stay together and work together by following the band. So, everyone, come follow the NACADA band to student success across the world!
Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising