Eric White, NACADA President
It was recently announced that the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) is closing its doors. As president of NACADA, this stunning announcement gave me reason to think about NACADA’s future. While I can only speculate as to the reasons for AAHE having to shut down (much of the public statement had to do with declining membership and the concomitant financial issues), it seems like a good time to raise some questions about how NACADA functions and what our future can look like.
- Do we stay in touch with our constituents?
- Are we good stewards for our resources, by trying to keep costs down?
- Do we listen to our members?
- Are we careful that we don’t impose any unwanted “agendas” on our members?
- Do we keep lines of communication open?
- Do we allow as many voices as possible to be heard?
To put it simply, I think we all try very hard to make sure the answer to all these questions is Yes.
NACADA has sponsored sessions at regional conferences to discuss the issue of certification for academic advisors and how to encourage a wide diversity in NACADA leadership. We have also run sessions at conferences called “NACADA listens.” We open our business session to all at our national conferences. The Journal issue on theories of advising (due out in the fall of 2005) will feature many voices. We strive to keep our membership fee as affordable as possible. We try to negotiate the best possible deals with hotels so that we can keep conference costs down. We have streamlined our board meetings to reduce costs.
While all of this is positive, does it or can it assure a healthy future for our organization?
The AAHE story includes both a declining membership and competing organizations’ themes. While NACADA has seen a rising membership lately, I do wonder if we really have reached everyone in the academic advising community. We know that there are organizations that focus on advising special populations of students, for example, and I wonder how many advisors make a choice of one membership in the specialized organization versus membership in NACADA. While those reading this piece are most likely members of NACADA, I believe that we have not convinced all who know of us about the value of being a NACADA member, nor has the word gotten out to some academic advisors that we exist at all.
I would be disappointed if there was even one academic advisor in the nation, in fact in the world, who did not know about NACADA. But unfortunately, I do know that there are advisors who are not aware of NACADA’s existence. We have to figure out how to reach these people, in effect how to be visible.
I suspect that there are also college and university presidents, chancellors, and provosts who may not be aware of us. We have to figure out ways to reach them, too.
Advisors ask students to dream, to test their abilities, to seek new knowledge, and to try what might be impossible. We should expect no less of ourselves, and you should expect no less from your association.
Here is my dream.
Some day a university/college president will come to an advisor and ask:
President: Did you know that there was such an organization as the National Academic Advising Association?
President: Well, we need to see that you get to their conferences and institutes. Does our library subscribe to their NACADA Journal?
President: Would you discuss this with our library personnel so that we can get a subscription?
President: Does our Advising Center have copies of NACADA publications?
President: I’ll see that more money is allocated to the budget. Are all our advisors members of NACADA?
President: Let’s start a campaign to encourage membership.
How’s that for a dream? But rather than a dream of impossibility, we in NACADA, with your input, can turn dreams to reality. At the last NACADA Board meeting, I charged a Task Force on NACADA Visibility to do some dreaming. Specifically, I asked them to consider who have we not reached and how can we reach them? The Task Force will be reporting back to the Board at our October 2005 meeting in Las Vegas. By dreaming a little, while still keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground, NACADA can continue to meet the needs of the academic advising community for many years to come.
Eric White, President
National Academic Advising Association
Cite this article using APA style as: White, E. (2005, June). From the president: Vision and visibility. Academic Advising Today, 28(2). Retrieved from [insert url here]