Frederick A. Fresh, Chicago, Illinois - 1998
Good Morning Colleagues!! We are gratified that so many of
you have joined us for our Annual Business Meeting. I trust that you
have had a pleasant and professionally rewarding stay in Chicago.
This year has been one with challenges from beginning to
end. We began with a resurrection of member interest in the direction of
the association and built to a crescendo. Renewed member interest and
involvement are where we want to be, but it happened to be a secondary
outcome of the national leadership of the association. Over the past
several years, the Board was striving to think and plan strategically as
a Board should. We became excited by the potential for revitalizing the
association in a way that would set us on a course to parallel the
changes we have seen in our area of higher education. We were also
excited by the potential to identify new opportunities for generating
the revenue needed to sustain the organization that we had become.
As members of this association and as leaders, we
performed with cautious optimism, building on the successes of the past.
Ultimately, there were multiple, interdependent decisions made. Too
many of the outcomes of these decisions failed to achieve their
potential, and the effects on the bottom line were disastrous to the
financial condition of the association.
We deeply regret this outcome. Further, we regret that
the resulting conditions have eroded your confidence in your elected
leadership. For these conditions and their causes, we apologize. We are
capable of performing and achieving more favorable outcomes. We ask you,
the membership, to support the Board’s efforts to rebuild our
association. We need your help to move forward toward a common goal.
Before I briefly review the last year, I must pause to
acknowledge those who have made this moment possible. No man is an
island. I acknowledge my wife, Dr. Edith M. Fresh who has had to do a
lot of listening and editing this year. My gratitude goes to members of
my office staff, one of whom- Ms Doris Frazier- is here and my
colleagues in the Atlanta University Center. Several of them assumed
some of my duties in the consortium to allow me to concentrate on the
work of the association. (Bill Dease, Morehouse College and Marie Brown,
ITC) The Board and nominees stepped up and assumed significant detailed
work that helped bring us to where we are today. Each assumed a special
role to assure oversight of issues such as National Office operations,
Annual Meeting logistics, communications, agendas, strategies, and
general follow-up. I want to make special note of Paul Anderson who
assumed the role of Secretary-Treasurer at a critical time. This enabled
us to carry on the work of the Board without being in conflict with the
Nominations and Elections Process. Kudos to Eugene Schuster who
permitted us to prevail upon him for early orientation and service to
We can be extremely proud of our staff in the national
office. They functioned as a well-trained military unit in the manner in
which they stepped into a leadership vacuum and pulled this meeting
together. Please stop them and give them a pat on the back. And finally,
I want to thank our members who cared enough to track what was
happening and to share their concerns.
The general strategy for the year was to bring closure to
the work of several task forces and to reestablish a sense of member
confidence. We encouraged discussion of issues at state and regional
meetings and attempted to enhance communications with, and among, the
association leadership. This was facilitated by the establishment of
listservs for the Board, Program Committee, and Professional Activity
Chairs. These were orchestrated by Board member Faith Weese.
Some data collection instruments were administered
electronically to sample member opinion. Two examples were surveys of
the leadership on the factors influencing their level of involvement in
the association and on the issue of professional certification.
Information on the latter was useful in arriving at an understanding
that member opinion on the issue is diverse. That diversity of opinion,
coupled with the need for the reduction of expenditures, produced the
decision to defer the funded work of the Professional Certification and
Credentialing Task Force.
Feedback from the Summer Leadership Conference and the
Leadership survey suggested that there might be better ways of
organizing the Board to balance the workload and of developing
association leadership. A Committee of the Board, chaired by Diana
Guerrero, has begun work on a plan for Board reorganization. Discussion
with the membership regarding this proposal will continue.
State and Regional visits were used to increase
communication with the membership. This was most successful where
special sessions and/or “town meetings” were held. A series of Student
Right to Know workshops was successfully offered around the country.
Task Force 2000 completed the process of assessing the association
through the eyes of members and producing its report. Two
programmatically successful, issues-oriented conferences pointed the way
to increased partnering with other associations on matters of mutual
interest. The Summer Leadership Conference was used to assess the
lessons learned from the efforts toward transformation. Considering the
investment made in positioning the association for its second 100 years,
it seemed prudent to benchmark the results so that the leadership could
build on successful processes, and avoid repeating the mistakes.
This year, we were forced to become more introspective
regarding the operation of the association. We faced the fact that the
growth of the National Office, and its related budget needs, are tied to
declining membership volunteerism and the desire for more services.
This pattern evolved over several years and produced budget needs that
outstripped the abilities of the dues base. The result has been the need
to generate significant revenue each year to balance the budget. These
events dictated the search for more revenue-generating events. The
summits were a part of this need, as much as they were a part of the
“Transformation” efforts. The bottom line was an inevitable correction
in organizational structure and planning.
Unfortunately, past successes and optimism for future
success focused attention on the revenue-generation side. A more
difficult approach is a total assessment of the association. Ironically,
this potential outcome of the “Transformation” agenda was masked by the
deficiencies of the associated communications surrounding the
transformation process. The establishment of Task Force 2000 and the
Technology Task Force, discussions of increased use of electronic
communications, and consideration of the reorganization of the AACRAO
leadership structure were efforts in the right direction.
As part of expense reduction efforts, Presidential
representation to the meetings of the Association of University
Administrators (AUA), the European Association of International
Educators (EAIE), and the Council of Higher Education Management
Associations (CHEMA) was reduced. The future involvement in these
meetings should be reviewed by the Board and incorporated into the
annual agenda as funds permit.
It is my firm belief that the Association will prosper
following the turmoil of the past year. While we are not solidly out of
danger, efforts have been made in the proper direction. The Board has
adopted measures to reduce expenses for delivery of member services, and
we have set a course for new leadership in the National Office. We must
stabilize the national office staff and re-invigorate member
volunteerism. Effective, revenue-generating Professional Development
programs must continue with realistic planning. Out of the necessity of
spreading the Board workload, Board members were assigned oversight of
various operational aspects of the Association and the National Office.
Consideration should be given to formalizing such a process to broaden
the knowledge base of the Association operation and infrastructure.
Ultimately, we will be successful in our process of re-structuring and
We have a plan to move the association to better
financial health. Some steps have been completed, while others will be
initiated in the near future.
- Budget cuts and staff reductions - As part of the
recovery plan initiated in July 1997, there were staff cuts and the
reduction of expenses. Non-essential travel was eliminated. Two
publications sales were advertised to reduce the inventory with limited
success. We will reduce the number of unsold publications to reduce
storage costs and to eliminate unrealizable assets from the balance
- Bare bones Budget for 1998-99 - Two areas of high cost
were printing and postage for publications. We have proposed the
strategy of electronic delivery/availability of such publications as the
Transfer Practices Guide, the Member Guide, and the Data Dispenser.
There is a potential savings of $84,000 - $114,000. The cost of
providing a secure web site to protect the benefits of membership
represents the difference here. A committee of members was organized by
Louise Lonabocker to address the issue of the web site. A proposal from
this committee is expected this week and will address potential savings
and volunteer contributions by members.
- No further Reserve Spending - It is the intent of the
Board to retain the assets in the reserves as they generate modest
- Minimize borrowing for deficits - We plan to employ
better cash management strategies to minimize the need for borrowing to
balance cash flow.
- Propose a dues increase to balance the budget and restore the reserves.
- Initiate a capital campaign among the membership to
provide a mechanism for voluntary, personal contributions by members to
rebuild the reserve. This would allow time for new leadership to develop
other revenue generation strategies, while we maintain an efficient
- Seek ways of reducing the burden of the leased space
by negotiations with the landlord and seeking compatible tenants to
Active strategies that will be employed on a continuing basis are:
- Containment of expenses for space and staff
- Restoring Leadership in the National Office by replacing the Executive Director and Financial Manager
- Reorganizing the staff and re-engineering the functions of the office
- Revenue expansion through contracts, grants and partnerships
- On-going risk analysis and management
- Rebuilding the financial base at every opportunity.
NATIONAL OFFICE LEADERSHIP PLAN - 1998
Following the decision to change the Executive Director
leadership, a primary activity of the Board was the acquisition of
interim leadership as quickly as possible. The need was for both
financial and managerial leadership. Consideration was given to cost
issues because of the need to stay within the funding capabilities of
the association. Although staff was diminishing in number, there were
termination costs that included payment for accrued vacation and
separation agreements. Additionally, some temporary staff was needed to
fill the gaps created by staff reductions.
Initially, the Executive Director (ED) was offered an
opportunity to remain with the association in a role that he would help
to define. We believed that the ED’s contacts and affiliations in the
Washington would benefit the association. That opportunity was declined.
The Audit Review reported that the Financial Leadership
needed to be strengthened. This necessitated the consideration of an
interim Executive Director with financial strengths, or two individuals.
These factors presented a dilemma of which position should be hired
It was decided to hire an Interim Executive Director
(IED) and have the IED hire a long-term financial manager. The IED was
critical to management of the programs and staff in the National Office.
We were uninitiated regarding the possible demands of an association
professional. “Temporary” to them meant a 1 - 3 year commitment. At this
point, we solidified our strategy. This strategy was to bring in a
known entity for a temporary assignment, and buy more time to make a
proper selection that would warrant a 1 - 3 year commitment. This would
allow for input by the membership on this issue.
- Several AACRAO Past Presidents were identified by that
group and were contacted about their availability. One (Clif Sjogren)
was determined to be available in early May. He will meet with the Board
of Directors this week to develop a clear understanding of the need and
expectations of the assignment. This assignment is expected to last 2 -
- Two IED candidates and a potential financial
management consultant were interviewed by a committee of the AACRAO
Board in the National Office on March 30-31, 1998.
- References are being checked to determine if we should
commit to a consulting assignment for the financial manager. That
decision will be made by the end of the Annual Meeting. If approved, the
assignment could begin as early as April 20, 1998.
- Two IED candidates were interviewed during the Annual
Meeting. These candidates will be ranked with the two who were
- Candidate searches have been placed with the Greater
Washington Society of Association Executives (GWSAE) and American
Society of Association Executives (ASAE). These resumes will be screened
and interviews conducted. We anticipate that a decision is possible by
May 30, 1998. The IED/ED start date will be negotiated to provide a
The foregoing activities and plans have been the
substance of the last year. We, members all, have a job to do in the
process of assure recovery. Will YOU join in the solution??
It is now my pleasure to present to you the Interim
Executive Director that we have selected to provide leadership to the
National Office for the near term. Please greet a Past President of
AACRAO, Clif Sjogren.