From June 22-23, 2018, nearly 100 AACRAO leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. for the annual AACRAO Leadership Meeting.
Advocating on Capitol Hill
A precursor to the meeting was AACRAO’s Hill Day. Organized by AACRAO’s Government Relations department, 42 AACRAO Advocates walked the halls of Congress and met with over 80 Congressional offices. In the morning, Advocates heard about the pressing higher education issues facing Congress and the Administration from Andrew Kreighbaum, Federal Policy and Higher Education Reporter, Inside Higher Education. In addition, they also heard the latest information on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) as well insights on how to maximize meetings with Congressional offices from representatives from the American Council of Education (ACE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Hispanics Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).
In turns exciting, empowering, and nerve-wracking, Hill Day allowed attendees to learn how and why advocacy is important to AACRAOans' work. The meetings were strategically coordinated with Congressional offices from members’ respective states to ensure that offices were aware of possible impacts from Federal legislation on local universities and students. Due to the important role members play in their universities, AACRAO members brought instant credibility and gave real-life examples regarding the issues they discussed.
“It was great to see so many members willing to come to Washington, DC, to be part of the 1st AACRAO Leadership Hill Day,” commented William Gil, AACRAO’s Director of Government Relations. “AACRAO advocates did an amazing job speaking on behalf of the higher education community.”
Balance, best practices, and red rubber balls
All attendees of the Leadership Meeting learned about Leadership and Change Management - both AACRAO core competencies - and applied their learning to campus situations. Texas Rüegg delivered a very heartfelt and thought provoking-session on Work/Life Balance. I think it is safe to say that everyone left with a new perspective on what to prioritize when and why.
Other Leadership Meeting highlights include:
- A robust discussion of the current AACRAO Strategic Plan was held: what is missing, how might the association operationalize the plan and measure progress, and how does it align with the core competencies and proficiencies.
- The Student Success work group co-chairs (Tim Amyx and Bianca Thomson-Owen) asked attendees to discuss the concept of student success and to identify if our definitions matched those of our campuses. Not surprisingly, many noted a stark difference between the two. The work group will use the information gathered from leadership attendees to help frame AACRAO's position on student success and our role as AACRAO members in helping achieve that goal. Attendees were also asked to draw student success and one particular campus initiative that could help accomplish it: needless to say, the competition was palpable and it was hard to hear each other over the laughter.
- Professional Activities Chairs (PAC) chairs explored how the PAC structure could be re-imagined to encompass myriad means of delivering professional content to our members beyond the annual meeting. There was overwhelming support to identify how this could happen and many eager volunteers to jump in and do the work.
- State and/or Regional representatives focused their time together on best practices for leading a state and or regional association, the importance of branding to an association, and roundtables to discuss pressing issues.
- As a way to infuse some more levity into the meeting and after a full day of listening, learning and sharing the entire group played a few rousing games of 4-square. The game was inspired by Rules of the Red Rubber Ball author Kevin Carroll, who spoke at the 2018 AACRAO Annual Meeting. (Learn more about Carroll's presentation here.)