When people hear that I’m on the AIR Board, they often ask me about the Forum - who will the keynotes be? where will it be held? how many rooms are left? And I answer all of these questions the same way - check in with the fabulous AIR staff because the Board doesn’t plan the Forum. Sometimes I note that we also don’t run IPEDS workshops, work on publications, design curriculum, or do many of the other outward facing activities associated with AIR. Which then leads to a somewhat puzzled expression that says “Well then, what does the Board actually do?”
If you’ve been in a position of leadership in one of AIR’s affiliate organizations you know that a considerable amount time and effort is spent in conference and professional development planning. That, typically, is the job description for these organizations’ boards and steering committees. This makes it all the more difficult to understand and adjust to the role of the AIR Board under the Policy Governance model in which we operate. In this model, the Board delegates the operation of the Association to the Executive Office, led by the Executive Director and CEO (Christine Keller). The Board is responsible for setting the overall direction for the Association, identifying any limits or general guidelines for the CEO, and then monitoring performance within those guidelines. We try to focus on the big picture - the overall health, mission, and vision.
From year to year, the Board’s agenda varies, depending on the needs of the members and the goals each President and each Board set for themselves. So far this year, the Board:
- Completed a multi-year effort to update our “Ends” policy which serves as AIR’s mission;
- Began work on a vision statement for the Association that can be used in strategic planning and promotional efforts;
- Made changes to the charge of the Nominations and Elections Committee to provide guidance on the specific qualities that are desired in candidates;
- Examined the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice and created a set of Ethical Principles to provide a framework for professionals on the use of data in an era of analytics, democratized data, and vended solutions;
- Worked with the Executive Office to re-envision the membership structure in light of a new Association Management Service (AMS);
- Examined our Board structure, with input from past Presidents and Board members, to identify strategies for promoting institutional memory and effective use of the Policy Governance model; and
- Codified a structure for Board self-evaluation that will document a Board’s performance and promote longer-term institutional memory.
We’ll wrap up this Board’s year with a day-long meeting at the Forum, and hopefully we’ll add a few more items to the “done” column.