AACRAO Board on the road again

by: Paul Kyle, AACRAO VP for Leadership and Management Development  

This familiar tune (‘On the Road Again’) is ringing in the ears of the AACRAO Board of Directors (BOD) as they start their travels across the country for State and Regional (S & R) conferences. Visiting State and Regional meetings is by far the best thing about being on the AACRAO Board. Not only do these visits allow Board members to connect more locally with members, it provides an opportunity to share what is happening in the national office, what issues are surfacing in Washington that may have an impact on our business, and what areas AACRAO is focusing from a strategic perspective.

I just returned from my own state conference in Kansas and when asked what was my favorite thing about visiting the state and regional meetings, I replied “the richness of the people you meet is absolutely wonderful and rewarding.” On a purely selfish level, the visits also allow Board members to actually attend sessions and learn about hot topics and issues (and solutions being implemented) across the nation, since at the Annual Meeting many Board members aren’t able to attend many sessions.

When together as a Board, we often share stories about our state and regional travels. Its fun to compare and contrast what happens at these meetings. The following are a few fun, unique an/or interesting tidbits about some of our state and regional meetings across the nation:

  • At the Utah meeting, the contingency from BYU-Idaho always brings along several cases of Idaho potatoes as raffle prizes.
  • At the Ohio meeting, a silent auction is held to raise money to provide scholarships to students attending Ohio institutions. Attendees get pretty ruthless in outbidding each other.
  • At the Carolina's (North and South Carolina) meeting, they hold a dance where attendees dress up and actually dance!
  • At the Tennessee meeting, all sessions are only 45 minutes long, you certainly learn to be succinct and to the point.
  • At the Upper Midwest meeting, they play FERPA Jeopardy and great and not so-great prizes are distributed. Would you be able to provide the question, if the answer provided was five?
  • At the Louisiana meeting, they crown a King, Queen, Duke and Duchess of LACRAO (with hats/crowns and all).
  • At the New England meeting, they hold a ‘NEACRAO’s Got Talent’ contest and some of the attendees are really talented!
  • At the West Virginia meeting, there is a moonshine tasting. Yes, real moonshine in a mason jar.
  • At both the West Virginia and Texas meetings, they highlight ‘resolutions’ (funny situations or humorous things or sayings from attendees during the conference).
  • At the Texas meeting, they host a 5K fun run/walk/glide and the most coveted prize goes to the very last person to cross the finish line – often more than one person wins (they call the award something inappropriate for print)
  • Many of our state and regional associations have philanthropic efforts as part of their meetings, just more evidence that we truly are a thoughtful and caring community.

The professionals we have across the nation are stellar and our students are in good hands. I am inspired by the lives that are changed through the positive engagement with students from our colleagues across the country and through the services and programming they provide.  I also feel I am taking a traveling graduate studies course in cultural diversity and history when speaking with those in attendance.  Despite all the negative press higher education is getting lately, the Board knows the true story, we have the best and most dedicated people championing the cause for student success.

On behalf of the Board and the AACRAO office, thank you for inspiring us, our students and the rest of the higher education community! Keep up the great work and maybe I will see you “On the Road Again,” at your local state and regional conference.

And, if you have fun, unique or interesting tidbit about your state and/or regional meeting that you would like to share please send it to me.