• Board Corner
  • 06.02.24

Board Corner: Committee Update and Sincere Gratitude

  • by Jonathan S. Gagliardi, AIR Immediate Past President

Dear Colleagues,

Commencement season is the personification of the impact we have. Most importantly, we get to celebrate the smiling many who walk across the stage to accept their hard-earned degrees. The very act is a metaphor for evolution. In droves, our students step through a doorway. They have made the choice to use the familiarity of friends, community, and the routines of college as a springboard into a future brimming with potential. It is a monumental event to witness; one that imbues me with a sense of optimism, as I hope it does you. You deserve recognition for your support of their pursuit. It does not go unnoticed.

The achievements of our students and the AIR community are a constant source of inspiration to me, the Board of Directors (Board), and the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC). When I began my term as President, I was convinced that the best way to build toward our own unbridled future was to listen to you, honor the work of previous leadership cohorts, and undertake fundamental reforms to position AIR for success, as well as strengthen the community by making it more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and vibrant.

To do that, we built on years of listening sessions by speaking with past Board members and presidents to learn from them how to best translate your input into tangible results. Doing so was an honor, and it revealed an earnestness for AIR to better understand the opportunities and challenges facing higher education, the field, and on a more personal note, our community.

It led us to approach this year’s Board committees with a focus on continuity of effort, in addition to deploying these structures in ways that led to visible and meaningful changes. On the continuity front, we continued the IR Future Committee, which in its first year developed a series of guiding principles for the AIR Board. These principles were used as the raw material from which new tools designed to help develop strategic foresight could be forged. As a result, the committee was disbanded so that a new standing committee on the Future of AIR could be developed. The new standing committee will serve as a tool that the Board can use to look around the corner and develop the capabilities to anticipate future opportunities and challenges facing our community, and proactively engage you in developing greater awareness and solutions to critical issues like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Jonathan and Brent at 2024 AIR Forum Keynote

While I geek out on thinking about the future, there are very real opportunities facing AIR today—namely, working intentionally to understand how we can strengthen pathways and lower barriers to leadership, particularly within the Board and NEC. This led us to create the ad hoc committee on Volunteer Leadership Pathways, which was composed of incredible team of AIR community members. One of the notable changes to come from this group is a pilot program that provides current Board members with travel support on an as-needed basis to lower financial barriers to Board participation that often have a disproportionate impact on financially under-resourced institutions.

These efforts informed and were informed by the work of the NEC, which oversaw what can only be described as an incredibly successful election cycle. Together, the newly elected members of the Board and the NEC represent a rich group of accomplished leaders in IR/IE, who also happen to represent a variety of diverse perspectives.

In service of the complementary work of these committees, we have continued to develop new and more responsive ad hoc committees. In fact, a new ad hoc Board structures committee was recently created to review the selection criteria for Board and NEC positions in yet another attempt to seek out opportunities to make clearer and less complex what it takes to become a member of the Board or NEC.

The many changes that have been made over the last year have had immediate impacts and will continue to pay dividends well into the future, and I for one am proud of the hard work undertaken by our community. These achievements are a direct reflection of your voices, leadership, and generosity. I only wish there were more time to serve each of you. It has been an honor to lead AIR in partnership with you.

Thank you for entrusting me with what I can only describe as one of the greatest honors I have received.

All the best,