Amy Sannes, NACADA President
At the NACADA Annual Conference in St. Louis this past October, the members of the Board of Directors asked NACADA general membership to participate in a series of discussions on various topics during the Town Hall event. NACADA had over 150 members participate in these discussions. Over the next year, the Board of Directors will be utilizing this information to inform our work. As a board, we are also working on plans to share the information, answer questions, and address concerns.
The Board plans to offer three additional virtual Town Hall meetings over the next several months to share information with NACADA members and to allow for discussion from members unable to attend the Town Hall in October. In this and future “From the President” Academic Advising Today articles, I will also be selecting various topics and addressing them. In addition, the Board has sent several of the suggestions to various committees and commissions to guide their work. The Board also noticed during the Town Hall meeting in October that some of the questions raised already have answers, but it became clear we need to find additional avenues for communicating this information to our members.
I have started brief email updates on Town Hall information. The Board received so much information, that to incorporate all of it in one document felt overwhelming to read or process. These emails do not prioritize the information, but rather are addressing items that already have answers. Please keep in mind that many suggestions involve more comprehensive work and review, but I do want you to know that we are looking at every idea presented.
Topics for the Town Hall discussion this year included: Core Competencies; Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement in Leadership; Research Center; External Partnerships; Strategic Goals; and Global Initiatives. This article will focus more specifically on Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement in Leadership. The discussion was to focus on “ideas on how to increase diversity, inclusivity, and engagement within leadership to accurately represent our NACADA members.”
One request made in the October Town Hall meeting was to share more information regarding our demographics. This was a great suggestion, as NACADA is continually striving to make sure our leadership is representative of our membership. The Inclusion and Engagement Committee has a report compiled every year that documents NACADA Member/Leader Representation. As NACADA addresses inclusion, we view diversity in a broad sense to ensure our membership is represented in a variety of population areas such as ethnicity, gender, institution type, advising role, and years in advising. I understand that to some this appears to create a broad statement of diversity; however, we need these different population areas represented in leadership to speak for the two year colleges and the private colleges as well as gender and ethnicity concerns. The following charts compare leadership numbers to the make-up of the membership after the 2017 election (NACADA, 2017).
While some of these numbers are encouraging, they do show that we still have work to do in creating a representative leadership team. At the annual conference, I put a challenge out to our membership to think more intentionally about nominating members for leadership positions and then to encourage members to run for positions if nominated. My concern continues to be the large percent of those nominated that do not run. In the 2015 election process, 43% of those nominated actually ran on the ballot, and in the following two years the percentages were at 66% and 54%.
I am encouraged by the increased number of nominations for this year’s election cycle, which concluded on October 31. There were 117 nominations this year compared to 99 nominations last year. The slate of nominations is fairly close to our NACADA membership profile; however, we as a NACADA membership still have work to do in some areas. Now our work as a NACADA collective should focus on supporting and encouraging those nominated to actually run on the ballot. Further work from the Board is also needed to review how our membership profile reflects professionals in the field of academic advising.
The Board of Directors has established a sub-committee to look at why members do not run for leadership positons. They are looking at our NACADA bylaws and the election process to see if we unintentionally create unnecessary roadblocks to leadership. Another NACADA task force is establishing guidelines for a leadership support fund to provide financial support for candidates from underrepresented populations that cannot secure institutional financial support to run for leadership positions. In addition, the Sustainable Leadership Committee is finalizing plans for a Leadership Academy to provide support for future and current leaders. All three of these projects are in support of two of our strategic goals: (1) 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, and (2) Develop and sustain effective Association leadership.
In response to the requests to share more updates on the Association, the Board is rethinking the format of our annual report. We will be creating a new format that will include additional demographics and updates on the year’s activities from the various Divisions, the Council, and the Board of Directors. NACADA leadership is willing to share information, but we struggle to disseminate this information in a concise manner that is useful to our members.
I would like to close by encouraging you to get engaged with the Association through one or more of the many opportunities available. Please review the three divisions and learn about the opportunities in each area. All region, committee, and advising community (previously commission and interest groups) meetings are open meetings. I encourage you to attend the meetings and join the area, where appropriate, to gain additional information and to add your voice to the discussions and prepare for a leadership position in NACADA: the Global Community for Academic Advising.
Amy Sannes, President, 2017-2018
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Associate Director, Academic Services
Arizona State University
Department of Psychology
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA Member/Leader Representation. Manhattan, KS: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.
Cite this article using APA style as: Sannes, A. (2017, December). From the president: Conversation on diversity, inclusion, and engagement in leadership. Academic Advising Today, 40(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]