Special Features

  • Featured
  • 12.08.23

Volunteering Our Time for Service to AIR

  • by Dr. Melanie S. Simpson, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Volunteer and Grow

Have you ever thought about volunteering for AIR and, instead of pushing the submit button on the application, you instead took a step back and said, “Nope, not this year.”? We have all been at points in our careers at which we said, “Now is not the right time.” Or, we have said, “I’ll wait and get to that next year.” And then the next year comes and goes.

Higher education is always busy. And I don’t mean to make you panic while you’re reading this, but the next IPEDS submission is coming up, and the next campus committee meeting is in the next thirty minutes, and your personal hair appointment is also today at 6 p.m. Our lives are busy. You’re probably juggling your full-time job, maybe kids and a partner, or maybe you’re a dog or cat mom that volunteers at the local women’s shelter in your spare time. Life is full of obstacles and hurdles that are in front of us daily. So, I get where you’re coming from. The notion to volunteer can often be put on the back-burner. However, just for a moment, let’s pretend I didn’t just mention all of the hectic timelines and talk about what it means to volunteer for AIR.

Whether you are new to the field of IR or a twenty-year veteran, volunteering helps broaden your scope and pathways into the profession. Volunteering helps the organizations we serve by making a lasting impact in the area of service. Your legacy lives through the project to which you’ve given your time. For instance, volunteering as a proposal reviewer, you help select impactful AIR Forum sessions, from which all attendees benefit. Volunteering your time to review award nominees allows you to profoundly influence someone else’s life. You leave your own legacy by helping choose the deserving candidate, which also elevates the profession and strengthens the overall health of our organization. Have you ever thought about sharing your opinion or writing articles? Well, you can do so through the eAIR Editorial Committee. You can share thoughts and ideas with your fellow colleagues and encourage others through writing.

There are many volunteer opportunities within AIR, but let’s talk about why we need you to answer the call to serve. As members, we are encouraged to get the most out of our organization. One way to do that is to answer the call to serve. Some of the service opportunities may only take an hour of your time each year, while others can take up to several hours. The beauty of volunteering is you get to be the judge of your own time. Remember when we talked about your busy schedule above? Well, we get that, and we know your time is valuable. We want you to make an educated decision on where you think you’re a great fit and how much time you can commit. I was in your shoes a few years ago in which I thought I’d never find the right time. Honestly, in higher education, there is never a right time to make things work perfectly. Within AIR, only a few roles are a multi-year commitment, and these are generally elected roles. I strongly encourage anyone who is seeking an opportunity to be elected for an officer position to volunteer across multiple platforms of the organization. Get your name out there and let others know how interested you are in leading our organization in the future.

Many of you may know that my astrological sign is Virgo. Many Virgos pride themselves in being task-oriented and organized, and often seek challenges for advancement. I am indeed your typical Virgo in that I am all of the above. The importance of serving AIR is one of personal and professional passion. I have the opportunity to meet others that are also doing the same and therefore I am networking and consistently learning from new colleagues. These colleagues are sharing the same passion with their diverse voices, which makes the service even more worthwhile. I also serve so that others like me, who are non-binary and gender-queer, see someone at the table that is like them. It is important for AIR to have diverse collective voices around the decision-making table for the organization to continue to grow and be representative of all that we serve.

But, don’t just take it from me. Hear what others have to say about volunteering their time for AIR.

“By getting involved through presentations, publications, networking, volunteering, and assuming leadership positions, I meet new people, gain a better understanding of the field of IR, and gain confidence in my abilities as an IR professional.” Iryna Muse, Assistant Vice Chancellor for System Analytics and Business Intelligence, The University of Alabama System

“I volunteer with AIR to engage with a community of like-minded Institutional Researchers. It provides a unique space to share perspectives aligned with our professional values and ethics, which can sometimes be challenging in our field. Being among peers who face similar issues bolsters my optimism and reinforces the sense of a shared mission, making my ongoing commitment to AIR exceptionally rewarding.” Meghal Parikh, Sr. Director of Institutional Analytics, Rollins College

“I volunteer with AIR because it helps AIR achieve its mission and allows me to support colleagues in their professional growth.” Eric S. Atchison, Vice President for Strategic Research, Arkansas State University System

At the end of the day, I hope you won’t hesitate to volunteer. Click that submit button, because AIR needs you to serve! Help us, shape the future of AIR.

With Gratitude in Service,

SimpsonMelanie S. Simpson is Assistant Provost of Institutional Research, Effectiveness, & Assessment at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.




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