• Board Corner
  • 07.28.22

Farewell, So Long

  • by Junelyn Peeples, Immediate Past President

Dear AIR Colleagues,

By the time you read this, the changing of the guard will have taken place, and I must bid you farewell as AIR President. Orientation, training, a couple dozen board meetings, opportunities to engage with stakeholders and other external agencies, more orientation, and more training helped me to enhance my understanding and adeptness in policy governance. In my service to this association, my goal was to ensure leadership continuity and, along the way, I discovered how being an intentional leader can effect change. The AIR Board of Directors focuses on purpose, and I am so proud to close my presidency knowing we were able to infuse a justice, equity, diverse, and inclusive (JEDI) mindset in our conversations and that we were able to amplify the language in our Ends (or mission) policy to reflect this ethos. Having purpose, being purposeful, and doing it with intentionality are recipes of a change agent.

Reflecting on the past two very difficult years, I have witnessed our profession foster the change to help institutions better understand their purpose. Knowledge exchanges, workshops, and new initiatives such as AIR LEADs continue to professionally develop our skills and knowledge for us to increase efficacy in our varying contexts. Coffee chats, the AIR Hub, and other networking opportunities support our need and desire to have meaningful dialogue and think through some difficult questions with thought partners who not just understand our day-to-day issues but offer useful solutions.

We have committed to serving higher education because we believe it is a common good, which benefits the evolution of society. Our profession has evolved from just a list of duties to storytellers who can shine a light on compelling stories from an array of voices that capture the human spirit and authentically depict the complete story of a student’s educational journey. We have moved beyond factbooks to storyboards to pinpoint institutional barriers that produce inequities. We cultivate questions that seek answers in how to support student success. We strategize about solutions to the challenges our institutions face that can help improve our educational delivery model. We believe in a rigorous educational experience inside and outside the classroom. Essentially, we have invested in a cause—a story, which focuses on overcoming obstacles that lead to transformational growth.      

Being a Board member and leading in this space offered the opportunity for my own transformational growth. Some of the best stories that draw us in come from the least expected places, and the most moving stories are when we put the voice of the person whose story is being told front and center. These are the stories that we should seek to tell; divergent, eclectic, disruptive, marginalized, uplifting, inspirational, and action-oriented. One of the most important stories I have told this past year is how necessary it is our profession leads with purpose and is intentional about what we are trying to help our institutions accomplish. The story about AIR professionals’ role in being changemakers and agents of change in the higher education landscape has not gone unnoticed.

As we head into another academic year, I would like to request you reflect on the impact your footprint has had to our profession, to your institution, and to helping students achieve their educational goals. Your work, whether in a large or small context, office size, or region contributes to this association’s ability to offer high-impact practices. Higher education is better because you exist to hold it accountable to ensure the greater good, the common good, remains the north star of why we must seek excellence for the sake of our students and community at-large. I am honored and privileged to be among such thoughtful, critical, intentional leaders, and change agents.

Farewell, so long, but hope to see you soon.

With humility and respect,