I have been asked by Association News, as NeASFAA’s current past-president and state representative on the RMASFAA board, to write a little something for the blog reflecting on what I feel are some NeASFAA’s accomplishments over the past year or so.
The first MAJOR accomplishment I want to highlight is a successful annual spring conference and other fall training events. It is amazing to me that it has been just a little over a month since our NeASFAA annual conference. Our Professional Development committee, chaired by Mary Sommers, did a marvelous job putting together a conference with great sessions and presenters. Some of these outstanding presenters included RMASFAA’s very own Art Young, NASFAA’s Justin Draeger and Astronaut Clayton Anderson originally from Nebraska.
The fall training we had included various topics that highlighted very relevant and timely training. — Now at this point you may be asking, why are you highlighting this training as a major accomplishment? You may also be stating in your mind – “you know we all do various trainings every year – what’s the big deal.” This is why I am highlighting the training — because it is a major component of our MISSION. And any time we accomplish some component from our mission, it should be considered a major accomplishment. In today’s world with so many distractions, be it the next newest greatest idea or other worthy and lofty needs that call for our attention, it is easy to lose focus. An unfocused laser beam will not be able to cut through steel and so its usefulness is diminished. So also, an organization that loses focus from its mission will have a diminished capacity to meet the needs of its members. For NeASFAA, as it is for RMASFAA and all of our state associations, training is a major component of the mission. We should celebrate it as a major accomplishment whenever and wherever our focus stays true to meeting this core component of the mission.
The second accomplishment I want to highlight is also a fulfilling of a component of NeASFAA’s mission. Truth be told, this is an area of our mission that has been a little neglected within NeASFAA. The area I am speaking of is Legislative and Policy Advocacy. Certainly many of our NeASFAA members have been involved in this work, but NeASFAA as an association has had a harder time, recently at least, trying to find its niche and a way to do this. But this year, through some suggestions from the membership, we discovered an outlet, a way, to accomplish this component of our mission. The board for the first time created a task force called, the NeASFAA State Legislation Task Force. The board charged this task to come up with a framework for advocacy within the Nebraska Legislature to address legislation generically impacting higher education, and specifically this past year the state grant program. I am so proud of this task force and its accomplishments as it took the charter given to it and did a great job forging a path that may be followed by NeASFAA in future advocacy work. We were able to attend and speak at hearings held regarding initiatives being considered in the education committee that impact our students. It was wonderful to be able to have a seat at the table and have our voice heard in the Nebraska Legislature in this way.
The third accomplishment I want to highlight, while not as direct result of our mission, does help us more efficiently accomplish our mission by streamlining our bylaws. I believe that NeASFAA’s bylaws should give us the guiding principles by which our association functions without being overly prescriptive of the policies and procedure by which it operates. With this in mind, NeASFAA embarked on changing some of its bylaws so that we no longer have a listing of standing committees. Sounds easy, but there were several places in our bylaws that mentioned and outlined committee stuff. All of it had to be changed, updated and brought before the association for approval. We wanted to do this so that the Board could more effectively utilize the committee structure and the volunteers serving on committees to respond to the needs of the association and its membership. The board is now able to adjust to the needs of the association through updates to our policies and procedures, and thus be more nimble and efficient in responding to any needs that arise by being able to change committee duties, timelines and structure as necessary. The bylaws changes were approved at our last annual spring conference and some of the work for changing some of our committee structure is already in place.
Finally, I would like to recognize those that were selected to receive our annual awards. They are:
Ritch Marrow, Coordinating Comm. For Postsecondary Education, – Bob Minturn Special Recognition Award
Stacy Dieckman, Northeast Community College – Distinguished Service Award
Becca Dobry, University of Nebraska – Kearney – Rookie of the Year
Professional Development Committee – Committee of the Year
It was a busy, full and wonderful year around NeASFAA. Best wishes to you and yours.
NeASFAA Past President