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  • Board Corner
  • 08.15.23

Taking Stock, Listening, and Acting

  • by Jonathan S. Gagliardi, AIR President

I hope all of you have had an opportunity this summer to pause, reflect, and reenergize. The demands on our community are many, and the urgency surrounding our work seems stuck in a perpetual growth cycle. For those reasons, the health and well-being of you and your loved ones is of paramount importance. While it isn’t always possible, take that long weekend. Give yourself permission to turn off notifications on your phone. Go for a walk at lunchtime. We all deserve that, given everything that has happened over the last few years.

The AIR community can also be a source of support, rejuvenation, and inspiration. I speak from personal experiences, when I say that AIR is a space for all of us to gather, learn from, communicate with, and support one another. I, for one, am incredibly grateful to be part of this community.

During my first year serving as a community leader, I have learned that communicating with you is the most important thing that can be done. How else can the Board of Directors (BOD) and the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC) serve as an embodiment of your voices? Engaging with you to make our aspirational future a reality depends on our ability to communicate and act.

Communicating and acting will be a prominent theme over the next year and beyond. That involves more routinely sharing with you the work of the BOD and NEC. As BOD and NEC members, we have listened carefully and now have a rich set of data generated from a host of coffee chats, and face-to-face and virtual listening sessions on how you want our community to continue to evolve.

Specifically, you have expressed a strong desire for concrete action. I am happy to report to you that our community has developed the means to do so. In recent years, the BOD and NEC have, in partnership with you, built out the structures to govern with purpose and intentionality. For example, earlier this spring AIR members voted to approve the changes to our Constitution and Bylaws recommended by the Board Structure for Accountability and Effectiveness Committee. The changes will be implemented over the next months and will help the organization grow and better serve its members and stakeholders by diversifying leadership and providing greater continuity in governance.

The insightful work of the Future of Institutional Research Committee (which includes members of the BOD and the community) identified critical areas that hold the potential to guide how IR and IE can better demonstrate its value through amplifying student and institutional success in ways that are effective, ethical, and equitable.

The discernment by the Board committees and the feedback we’ve gained from the community through town halls and listening sessions has repeatedly shown the collective desire to create a more diverse and inclusive Board/NEC leadership, association, and field. That isn’t news to any of us, and we know that there are systemic barriers to doing so. However, the BOD, NEC, and our membership have chosen instead to use it as a call to action, which brings me to my last point.

We will collectively act over the next year to explore, identify, and where possible, enact changes that, if successful, will put us on a path to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. To that end, and as a complement to the Future of IR committee, the Board is creating an ad hoc committee specifically charged with identifying concrete steps that we as volunteer leaders can take to make more accessible AIR leadership opportunities, specifically within the BOD and NEC. The creation of this committee is just another step in our efforts to combat the pervasive inequities that exist within and across higher education. We are looking forward to sharing more details with you as they surface!

Indeed, there is much to do. We stand at an inflection point. I am optimistic that together, we will continue to position AIR and its members at the leading edge of transformation in higher education through the effective, ethical, and equitable use of data and analysis for decision-making.

Take the next few weeks to prepare yourself for a new academic year because you deserve it. I am confident that together, we will continue to build a bigger, bolder, better, and more inclusive AIR community.

All the best,
J

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eAIR is the newsletter of the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). From its start in October 1987 to today, eAIR remains one of the most important tools for providing news to the higher education community.

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