AACRAO President Jeff von Munkwitz-Smith's Remarks from Business Meeting at 2012 Annual Meeting

On April 3, 2012, soon-to-be AACRAO President Jeff von Munkwitz-Smith addressed the membership at the close of the Business Meeting. Here are his remarks. You may contact him at jvon@bu.edu .

I will attempt to follow Franklin Roosevelt's dictum: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated!”

Over the years I've listened to many addresses by new AACRAO Presidents. Tradition would have me talk to you today about the new programs and initiatives I want AACRAO to undertake in the coming year.

Instead, following Nora McLaughlin's example, I want to talk a bit about change and the role of the Board of Directors. It's appropriate when meeting in Philadelphia to quote Benjamin Franklin, who said, “When you're finished changing, you're finished!”

This will be a year of significant change for AACRAO. Our good friend Jerry Sullivan soon will be retiring from AACRAO. Jerry has served AACRAO exceptionally; the association has thrived under his leadership. Fortunately, our changes are not just endings, but also beginnings. Mike Reilly will be joining the association in June as Executive Director. I should say re-joining, since Mike was formerly a member of AACRAO in his many years in admissions and enrollment management positions. As we've already heard, Mike will bring a great deal of enthusiasm and energy to the position. I'm excited about working closely with him as he begins his role as Executive Director!

People who care passionately about the Association can, and do, sometimes disagree about the best approach to ensuring its future. This morning's vigorous debate mirrored that which occurred within the AACRAO Board over the past three years. We will move forward mindful of the concerns of all of our membership. If AACRAO is to continue to thrive, it is essential that all of the segments of our membership continue to be represented in the leadership of the Association. This must be a strategic priority of the Board.

In 1999, the first budget that Jerry Sullivan created as Executive Director was roughly $2.5 million. The budget that we passed this morning was nearly four times that 1999 budget. Over the intervening years we've grown as an association. We provide many more services to our members. We no longer rely on just two revenue streams, membership dues and Annual Meeting, to support our activities. We have built a reserve to provide a cushion in difficult economic times and, like many of our own institutions, we are building an endowment to support to our future activities. All of these things are the product of the hard work of Jerry and the AACRAO staff, of the many, many volunteers from the membership, and of Boards of Directors that took their responsibilities seriously. This is a tradition that we must continue.

In my role as chair of the Board's Governance Committee this past year, I led the orientation of our incoming Board members. One of the ideas that I stressed was that the proper role of the Board should involve “more noses and fewer fingers”. That is, the Board should focus on setting strategic policy and watching carefully to see that it is being carried out, but should not be micromanaging the AACRAO staff or our member volunteers. We should leave the programmatic details to the groups that are doing that good work. As the budgets and activities of the Association have expanded this has become more and more critical. Not too many years ago the Board also functioned as the Program Committee for the Annual Meeting. I've served on the Program Committee, chairing it for the 2005 Annual Meeting, and I've served on the Board since 2008. Both were a lot of work and I am in awe of those Boards that could do both! We could not be successful doing both today. The Board needs to continue to focus, as we have in recent years, on “more noses and fewer fingers.”  I strongly believe the proper role of the Board is to establish direction, ensure resources, and provide strategic oversight.

Over the course of the past few days I've heard from numerous members that communication between the Board and the membership will be of increasing importance as we move forward. We will continue to use Memberlink, email blasts, the AACRAO website, and Board member visits to the State and Regional meetings: our traditional means of communication. We will also begin to use social media and new community engagement tools that the AACRAO staff are now piloting. In what will perhaps become a new AACRAO tradition, I've begun to tweet as @AACRAO_Prez.

Before closing, I want to talk a bit about another aspect of ensuring the future of AACRAO. The next generation of AACRAO leaders are probably in this room today. They are a bright and talented group, willing to work hard. They are already engaged in service to the Association. We need, I believe, to pay attention to cultivating the generation that will follow them. As a Board, we will be looking at ways the Association might engage the younger members of our professions, who may not yet be members of AACRAO. I ask that all of us here, particularly those of us who are the primary contacts for our institutions, to encourage and support the involvement of young professionals in AACRAO. Please help ensure our future!

I look forward to the year ahead and I thank you very much for your support!