In the comment box below, briefly share the impact that AIR has had on your professional career. Stories about specific experiences, mentors, etc. are welcomed.
 
If you would like to include a photograph, please email Elaine Cappellino [membership@airweb.org].
 
 

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Total Comments: 12
 
Michael posted on 12/9/2015 12:16 PM
Where to begin? I attended my first forum in 1987, and have made the majority of them since then. I have served on various committees and done forum support. I have had a number of mentors and teachers, including Jim Firnberg, John Milam, Gerry McLaughlin to name just a few. Like many others my age, I have seen it grow from a much smaller group to the juggernaut it is today. I can honestly say, AIR has been the best professional organization I have ever had a membership with. It has not only taught and guided me, but helped me to meet people that have turned into life-long friendships.
Kim posted on 12/9/2015 3:46 PM
For the last 18 years, I've been proud to be a member of AIR. My experiences at the Annual Forums most strongly reinforced my impression that it is an extremely service-oriented and sharp group. AIR's publications, workshops, and the Graduate Certificate in Institutional Research program (at Penn State), have contributed potently to my professional development. I am grateful! -- Kim Michael Oren
Joe posted on 12/9/2015 5:36 PM
As a member of the nominating committee I called Sid Suslow and asked that he become a nominee for AIR Vice President, to succeed to the Presidency. He agreed to be a nominee. In the course of our conversation I addressed him as Dr. Suslow. Shortly after our call was completed, Sid called back and noted that I had addressed him as "Dr." and that he did not have a doctoral degree. He offered to step aside, if it was expected that the nominee have such a degree. I quickly assured him that there was no such expectation and the history of his service to AIR in official capacities began.
Jeff posted on 12/11/2015 3:03 PM
My connection with AIR started in Trier, Germany at the EAIR conference in August 1998. I was there with my co-presenter Vivienne Wood and I noticed that the AIR President was wearing a McLachlan tartan tie. I asked him why and he said "Because my name is McLaughlin" - the spelling difference is Scots/Irish, but the same clan. We gelled and this led to Vivienne and I attending and presenting at AIR conferences in San Francisco (where we got the news that our Napier Polytechnic had been granted University Status), ```Albuquerque, Seattle and New Orleans, as well as at a large number of EIAR, BIAIR, and AAIR events over the years from 1992 to 1998. We developed valuable links with Gerry McLaughlin, John Muffo, Ed Delaney and a number of other participants in these conferences and the ability to welcome several AIR luminaries to Scotland plus the opportunities to visit Virginia Tech and a number of other educational establishments was enriching and rewarding.
In my retirement I often reflect on the happy memories of my association with AIR. Prof. Jeff McLachlan, Edinburgh, Scotland
Dorothy posted on 1/4/2016 7:41 PM
My story centers on the late Dr. Charles I. Brown, an emeritus AIR member, who had a significant impact on many persons in AIR as a whole and on TBCU-AIR. He mentored many newcomers to the IR community and made everyone feel welcome and encouraged them to participate in AIR. To that extent, many of us got involved and relied on Charlie for encouragement and directions. He was one of the founders of TBCU-AIR and had several protégées under his tutelage. Most of his protégées became president of TBCU, served on the AIR board, earned advanced degrees, published papers, and held positions and/or served in their regional and state IR organizations. He held IR members to high standards, and no one wanted to let Charlie down so they performed as he instructed and encouraged. He left a legacy of service in AIR and TBCU. His illness and passing left a hole that has never been filled. As the membership has changed, many have never heard of him. But he will always be remembered by those of us who are on the verge of retiring ourselves or retired in the past five to ten years. I still have the numerous handwritten notes and cards he sent to me to encourage me along the way. Dorothy
Marv posted on 1/8/2016 4:05 PM
BOARD'S THAT PLAY TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER

In the mid 1980s the AIR Board was a serious group of mid-career professionals, middle aged but still very active who enjoyed each others company. We adopted the previous board's meeting pattern: one meeting held a year in advance at the future Forum site and one in mid year. During one 2-3 year period we scheduled midwinter meetings in Boulder, Co. It was the low cost option for that board and easy to get to. It was also near skiing!

Our pattern was to arrive Thursday, meet that evening and all day Friday and then drive to Vail Friday evening where the entire Board stayed in Marilyn McCoy and husband Chuck Thomas's home. A series of double beds, cots and air mattresses accommodated everyone.
We would ski all day Saturday and Sunday and then would race to the Denver airport that evening for late flights home.

Our first trip was particularly memorable. On Saturday morning we headed for the mountain in sub-groups depending on skiing ability and foolishness. The smallest group was Bill Festemacher and Gerry McLaughin who were non-skiers and had wisely decided to take a day's lesson. We agreed to meet at a bar at the base of the mountain at 4:00 p.m.

At the appointed hour all were present except Bill and Gerry. At 4:30 they were still not present and we debated checking the ski patrol first aid clinic. But at that point two small dots emerged near the top of the longest ski run we could see. They proceed to move down the hill 20-50 yards at a time and then would stop. As they got closer we could make out bodies that would alternately ski a short distance and fall. Then get up and repeat the same. Naturally it was our long lost neophyte skiers who finally arrived - tired but grinning ear to ear. It seems that after a morning of ski lessons, they decided they were ready to go to the top of the mountain and did not need any more lessons!

We then all returned to the McCoy-Thomas home for a sumptuous dinner prepared by Chuck and proceeded to go through an entire case of wine. We also enjoyed their hot tub to ease the aching joints. As a matter of fact Sam Adams needed it so much that he jumped in in his undershorts - having forgotten his swimming trunks. I believe there is a picture of that still in someone's possession that I hope it emerges on this History Site.
Bob posted on 1/12/2016 2:39 PM
When I was Vice President in 1978 things were very modest and simple. The Forum budget was $14,000. When I became President in 1979 I was so worn out with Forum organizational tasks that the only think I could think of to do was separate the Forum officer track and the Presidential track. That was all I accomplished as President. We did eat well, however.
Bob Wallhaus
Oscar posted on 1/22/2016 11:05 AM
I joined AIR in 1968, two years after it was incorporated, while serving on the Research Services staff at ACT national headquarters for nine years; quickly becoming active in the Association and having great experiences interacting with and getting to know many others at the annual Forums. In 1969, incoming president Sid Suslow asked me to assume the position of AIR Newsletter Editor, which I held for the next four years and it turned out to be a marvelous experience. I continued to be active in other ways thereafter, including service on the Board. I always appreciated the many outstanding AIR Forum programs, and presented papers regularly at the Forum, but even more valuable was meeting and back-and-forth sharing with professional friends and colleagues between sessions and “on the town” during the evenings.

One of those evenings on the town really got me into trouble. I had been serving as a member-at-large on the AIR Board—responsible for coordinating Association activities with state, regional and international IR groups that year–and President Bill Lasher had instructed each of us on the Board to be ready to report about our respective areas that year at the AIR Toronto Forum business meeting on early Wednesday morning. The night before, a group of us were out partying and somehow I forgot to put in a wake-up call. I therefore overslept, and the next morning sheepishly walked into the meeting near its end. When I profusely apologized to Bill after the meeting for that having happened, the look on his face and his harsh words indicated to me that I was not forgiven, which has haunted me ever since!

It may also interest those reading this to know I was the one who in 1981 had the distinction of ushering in AIR's first president from outside the United States—Bill Tetlow, from the University of Calgary in Canada. “Out of the blue” I was informed I had been nominated for AIR president-elect and they asked permission to let my name be listed on the ballot; subsequently, I finished second to Bill in the voting. Bill did a truly wonderful job as AIR President, so it was a good thing I lost the election; we subsequently became good friends.
Gerry posted on 2/11/2016 9:04 AM
I did my first research project for Jim Montgomery at the University of Tennessee in about 1966. At the time I had no interest in his working in Institutional Research – I just wanted to do the internship for my Title 6 grant. The project was to look at the factors related to passing the Junior English Exam at the University.

I graduated in 1969 and Jim (I called him “sir” ) got me an assignment to West Point in Institutional Research (I was a Lieutenant ). When I got off active duty Jim had a job at Virginia Tech where I stayed until 1999 and then went to DePaul in Chicago. I retired in 2014. But the purpose of this blog is to reflect on IR and AIR.

I was extremely fortunate that Jim supported professional development since he thought it improved our value to Virginia Tech. His idea of development was experiential learning. You went to meetings because you got presentations accepted. You filed an annual report and being on the Forum Committee or the Publications Board impressed him more than just being a member and going to meetings. I know I was very fortunate since later in my career my bosses did not all have the same values.

Jim was right. The experience I had on the Forum Committee and the Publications Board and the Executive Committee were professional growth experiences. The experiences I had presenting papers and publishing articles and editing publications were rewarding. The experiences were also so compelling I continued them and encouraged my staff to have professional development - always an office goal and recorded on annual reports.

The most rewarding experiences were presenting in the various Institutes. We did a Foundations Institute. We did a Data and Decisions Institute for the Council of Independent Colleges and for the community colleges. These multi-day focused experiences let us interact with highly motivated attendees and co-presenter colleagues. We learned from each other and we also had tremendous opportunities to have what colleges would call co-curricular learning.

Seek out opportunities to work on projects with your colleagues. The committees and boards of members where my greatest joy and learning experiences of working on sustained projects to accomplish goals may or may not be reinstituted but where you can be involved in state, regional, or nation activities and you can share your knowledge – go for it. Those are the experiences where you will treasure. In addition your involvement of using your professional judgment and your real experience will strengthen our association.

By the way - Marv's story below of the ski trip is correct. In ski class I learned to turn left but not to the right so when it was time to turn right - I would tend to fall, get up, and then off we would go again - down the mountain.
Marv posted on 4/5/2016 7:47 PM
Marv Posted 4/5/16

PRODUCTIVITY, PERFECTION AND PLEASURE,

I am sure all of us have had one of those perfect days where we were at the top of our performance curve and everything went just right. That is an important day to remember – especially amidst all the others that did not go quite as well.

I had one such day in my career and it involved AIR work and was made possible by one of the best colleagues one could ever have – Mary Corcoran. I am sure many of you remember this intelligent, outgoing and proper Boston lady (she never lost that façade although she spent most of her career in Minnesota). She is responsible for my recollection of one of those high performing pinnacles of performance on an AIR project.

As part of my AIR Presidency that coincided with the association’s 25th Anniversary, I invited Mary Corcoran to co-edit a special edition of New Directions for Institutional Research* that would examine the state of I. R. from an evolutionary perspective. As with many faculty types, we dawdled a bit on getting started until it became crucial to get the effort underway. Since I was about to depart on a vacation in Montana, Mary suggested that I stop in Minneapolis on my way west and that we should spend the entire day organizing the effort. I accepted and she promised to organize our day of work.

At about 6 A. M. I arose and raced to the Detroit airport and arrived in Minneapolis around 8 P. M. (time zones made it possible); then took a taxi to Mary’s apartment near the University campus. I arrived to a very well arrayed table set with coffee, juice and the most wonderful rolls imaginable. But even as I was taking my first bite, she was presenting the outline for the day. We spent most of the morning focusing on the intent of the volume, dividing it into sub-topics for chapters, writing brief descriptions of each and then identifying potential authors that we would contact. By noon we had the outline and substance of the volume well in hand. Mary then announced we were going to lunch at a most delightful café near her apartment – but by her schedule we returned to the apartment at precisely 1:00 P. M.

She had arranged typewriters for us (no personal computers then). We spent the next four hours outlining, drafting and sharing sections of an introductory chapter for the volume and the concluding chapter. The intent was to have something to share with potential authors when we invited them. At 5:00 P. M. she handed me a bag with a tasty croissant sandwich and some fruit and then escorted me out to a taxi she had prearranged for my trip to the Minneapolis airport to catch my 6:30 P. M. flight to Bozeman. By 10:00 P.M I was in my condo in Big Sky, Montana (another time change). Within two days we had called and successfully solicited all chapter authors.

If only productivity, perfection and pleasure were so plentiful – or we all had a Mary Corcoran for a colleague.


*Institutional Research in Transition (M. Peterson & M. Corcoran, ed.), New Directions for Institutional Research, Vol. 46. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass,1985.
Stephen posted on 2/7/2017 7:36 PM
Re: BOARD'S THAT PLAY TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER by Marv Peterson

Marv's recollection is amazingly accurate ... yes the two dots coming down the mountain .. but the story can be embellished. First, the location was Marilyn and Chuck's large condo at Vail(not Chuck's awesome cliff hanging home looking down on Boulder Co with the large chef kitchen ... but that was another board meeting).

First you should know that, before partying, that executive board was ruthless in the expedited business meeting in Boulder. I was the new chair of the Publications Board and my ideas and budget were sliced and diced faster than in any campus meeting. Despite Marv and Marilyn being my predecessors ... absolutely no mercy in the budget cuts.
Thus figuratively bleeding and bandaging my budget wounds, I rode along to a large store called the Liquor Mart. They knew where to go.
Then to a grocery store to buy only the freshest asparagus and plenty of chicken ... and away to Vail.

There were 12 of us: 8 were at the dining room table and 4 in the kitchen. The case of wine was in the kitchen. I was at the table in the kitchen. We short changed those in the dining room.

... at this point you might want to consider volunteering for a position on the AIR board

My last comment is on the international meetings ... Sweden was fun, presenting a paper at a land grant university shortly after its 500th anniversary and then a boat ride on a canal to a lake pavilion dinner and party, thanks to AIR board member Thaly Neilson. A later meeting in England was also good and full of history. (I'd written grants and had a decent travel budget and gladly supplemented with my own funds.)

But I exited AIR 30 years ago. It was not in my plans. Officially due to campus budget cuts, but maybe also due to my independent streak expressed without reservation to another guy who happened to be the university president.

Thus I've limped along these many years without AIR, though Marv and I have lunch when he's in my area. Those were indeed the "good old days" as I look back.

Best wishes to everyone.

-Dr. Stephen R. Hample, CFP recently retired from another field
Stephen posted on 2/7/2017 7:40 PM
Re: BOARD'S THAT PLAY TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER by Marv Peterson

Marv's recollection is amazingly accurate ... yes the two dots coming down the mountain .. but the story can be embellished. First, the location was Marilyn and Chuck's large condo at Vail(not Chuck's awesome cliff hanging home looking down on Boulder Co with the large chef kitchen ... but that was another board meeting).

First you should know that, before partying, that executive board was ruthless in the expedited business meeting in Boulder. I was the new chair of the Publications Board and my ideas and budget were sliced and diced faster than in any campus meeting. Despite Marv and Marilyn being my predecessors ... absolutely no mercy in the budget cuts.
Thus figuratively bleeding and bandaging my budget wounds, I rode along to a large store called the Liquor Mart. They knew where to go.
Then to a grocery store to buy only the freshest asparagus and plenty of chicken ... and away to Vail.

There were 12 of us: 8 were at the dining room table and 4 in the kitchen. The case of wine was in the kitchen. I was at the table in the kitchen. We short changed those in the dining room.

... at this point you might want to consider volunteering for a position on the AIR board

My last comment is on the international meetings ... Sweden was fun, presenting a paper at a land grant university shortly after its 500th anniversary and then a boat ride on a canal to a lake pavilion dinner and party, thanks to AIR board member Thaly Neilson. A later meeting in England was also good and full of history. (I'd written grants and had a decent travel budget and gladly supplemented with my own funds.)

But I exited AIR 30 years ago. It was not in my plans. Officially due to campus budget cuts, but maybe also due to my independent streak expressed without reservation to another guy who happened to be the university president.

Thus I've limped along these many years without AIR, though Marv and I have lunch when he's in my area. Those were indeed the "good old days" as I look back.

Best wishes to everyone.

-Dr. Stephen R. Hample, CFP recently retired from another field