A series of activities this past year culminating with the Fiscal-Year 2004 budget development process resulted in the AACRAO Board of Directors discussing membership dues as an issue. As the discussion continued on this topic, it became apparent this was not one issue, but a series of complex issues all linked to each other. The following is a summary of these issues.


1. Institutional Versus Individual Dues

AACRAO's Bylaws, Article II, Section 1, address membership eligibility as institutional, but a Member Resolution approved in April 2000 bases membership dues on institutional size and the number of voting members. This creates confusion as to whether AACRAO's dues are truly institutional, meaning a certain size or type of institution pays a specific fee, or member fees, meaning fees are assessed as a flat rate per member.

2. Dues Equity

The 2000 Member Resolution on Voting Membership and Fees states the members shall pay fees "based on their total enrollment for the preceding fall, as reported to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Educational Statistics." The enrollment being reported is total "headcount" enrollment and this causes an inequity for institutions such as community colleges and urban universities that enroll a large proportion of part-time students.

3. Amount of Dues

This past year, the Board charged the Vice President of Finance to conduct a review of peer associations. The purpose of this study was to provide the Board with additional "benchmarks" to assist in the evaluation of AACRAO's financial performance, including data from Statements of Financial Position, Statements of Activities, and Executive Compensation. Also included in these benchmarks was a review of membership dues. Based on this study, AACRAO's membership dues ranked 8th lowest out of 11 "peer" associations. AACRAO's per member dues ranked next to last in the comparison.

4. Dues and Budget Approval

AACRAO's Bylaws currently require member approval for any change in dues. In addition, the dues are included in the annual budget approval process. The benchmark study of peer associations revealed that only one other association required member approval of any dues increase. Having a system where members approve the budget, while closely linked to membership dues, creates timing problems. Based on the current Bylaws, the next fiscal year budget must be developed more than nine months prior to implementation. This results in the Board having to approve an operating budget several months later that is a more realistic estimate of projected revenue and expenses.

These issues have caused the Board to request a review of AACRAO's dues and dues structure. The Board requested the Vice President of Finance to convene a task force to study the dues issues and to develop recommendations. The Dues Task Force is charged to address:

  1. Should AACRAO assess member dues as institutional dues or individual memberships?
  2. Should AACRAO develop a more equitable membership dues structure based less on student headcount and more on institutional budgets or other factors?
  3. Is AACRAO's current per member dues appropriately set to provide value for the membership services provided?
  4. Should the Board set member dues without obtaining member approval?
  5. Should membership approval be required to enact the budget?

Voting members of AACRAO who are interested in serving on this taskforce are invited to submit a letter of interest. The AACRAO Board of Directors recognizes the difficulty of the charge and will expect the Taskforce to be thorough in its deliberations. The Taskforce should publish its finding by September 1, 2003. This timeline would allow the Board time to discuss the Taskforce recommendations and evaluate proposals for bylaws changes-should any be recommended-90 days in advance of the 2004 Business Session Annual Meeting, as required by association bylaws.