Chicago, Illinois - 1998

Good Morning Colleagues!! We are gratified that so many of you have joined us for our Annual Business Meeting. I trust that you have had a pleasant and professionally rewarding stay in Chicago.

This year has been one with challenges from beginning to end. We began with a resurrection of member interest in the direction of the association and built to a crescendo. Renewed member interest and involvement are where we want to be, but it happened to be a secondary outcome of the national leadership of the association. Over the past several years, the Board was striving to think and plan strategically as a Board should. We became excited by the potential for revitalizing the association in a way that would set us on a course to parallel the changes we have seen in our area of higher education. We were also excited by the potential to identify new opportunities for generating the revenue needed to sustain the organization that we had become.

As members of this association and as leaders, we performed with cautious optimism, building on the successes of the past. Ultimately, there were multiple, interdependent decisions made. Too many of the outcomes of these decisions failed to achieve their potential, and the effects on the bottom line were disastrous to the financial condition of the association.

We deeply regret this outcome. Further, we regret that the resulting conditions have eroded your confidence in your elected leadership. For these conditions and their causes, we apologize. We are capable of performing and achieving more favorable outcomes. We ask you, the membership, to support the Board's efforts to rebuild our association. We need your help to move forward toward a common goal.

Before I briefly review the last year, I must pause to acknowledge those who have made this moment possible. No man is an island. I acknowledge my wife, Dr. Edith M. Fresh who has had to do a lot of listening and editing this year. My gratitude goes to members of my office staff, one of whom- Ms Doris Frazier- is here and my colleagues in the Atlanta University Center. Several of them assumed some of my duties in the consortium to allow me to concentrate on the work of the association. (Bill Dease, Morehouse College and Marie Brown, ITC) The Board and nominees stepped up and assumed significant detailed work that helped bring us to where we are today. Each assumed a special role to assure oversight of issues such as National Office operations, Annual Meeting logistics, communications, agendas, strategies, and general follow-up. I want to make special note of Paul Anderson who assumed the role of Secretary-Treasurer at a critical time. This enabled us to carry on the work of the Board without being in conflict with the Nominations and Elections Process. Kudos to Eugene Schuster who permitted us to prevail upon him for early orientation and service to this area.

We can be extremely proud of our staff in the national office. They functioned as a well-trained military unit in the manner in which they stepped into a leadership vacuum and pulled this meeting together. Please stop them and give them a pat on the back. And finally, I want to thank our members who cared enough to track what was happening and to share their concerns.

REVIEW

The general strategy for the year was to bring closure to the work of several task forces and to reestablish a sense of member confidence. We encouraged discussion of issues at state and regional meetings and attempted to enhance communications with, and among, the association leadership. This was facilitated by the establishment of listservs for the Board, Program Committee, and Professional Activity Chairs. These were orchestrated by Board member Faith Weese.

Some data collection instruments were administered electronically to sample member opinion. Two examples were surveys of the leadership on the factors influencing their level of involvement in the association and on the issue of professional certification. Information on the latter was useful in arriving at an understanding that member opinion on the issue is diverse. That diversity of opinion, coupled with the need for the reduction of expenditures, produced the decision to defer the funded work of the Professional Certification and Credentialing Task Force.

Feedback from the Summer Leadership Conference and the Leadership survey suggested that there might be better ways of organizing the Board to balance the workload and of developing association leadership. A Committee of the Board, chaired by Diana Guerrero, has begun work on a plan for Board reorganization. Discussion with the membership regarding this proposal will continue.

State and Regional visits were used to increase communication with the membership. This was most successful where special sessions and/or town meetings were held. A series of Student Right to Know workshops was successfully offered around the country. Task Force 2000 completed the process of assessing the association through the eyes of members and producing its report. Two programmatically successful, issues-oriented conferences pointed the way to increased partnering with other associations on matters of mutual interest. The Summer Leadership Conference was used to assess the lessons learned from the efforts toward transformation. Considering the investment made in positioning the association for its second 100 years, it seemed prudent to benchmark the results so that the leadership could build on successful processes, and avoid repeating the mistakes.

This year, we were forced to become more introspective regarding the operation of the association. We faced the fact that the growth of the National Office, and its related budget needs, are tied to declining membership volunteerism and the desire for more services. This pattern evolved over several years and produced budget needs that outstripped the abilities of the dues base. The result has been the need to generate significant revenue each year to balance the budget. These events dictated the search for more revenue-generating events. The summits were a part of this need, as much as they were a part of the Transformation efforts. The bottom line was an inevitable correction in organizational structure and planning.

Unfortunately, past successes and optimism for future success focused attention on the revenue-generation side. A more difficult approach is a total assessment of the association. Ironically, this potential outcome of the Transformation agenda was masked by the deficiencies of the associated communications surrounding the transformation process. The establishment of Task Force 2000 and the Technology Task Force, discussions of increased use of electronic communications, and consideration of the reorganization of the AACRAO leadership structure were efforts in the right direction.

As part of expense reduction efforts, Presidential representation to the meetings of the Association of University Administrators (AUA), the European Association of International Educators (EAIE), and the Council of Higher Education Management Associations (CHEMA) was reduced. The future involvement in these meetings should be reviewed by the Board and incorporated into the annual agenda as funds permit.

It is my firm belief that the Association will prosper following the turmoil of the past year. While we are not solidly out of danger, efforts have been made in the proper direction. The Board has adopted measures to reduce expenses for delivery of member services, and we have set a course for new leadership in the National Office. We must stabilize the national office staff and re-invigorate member volunteerism. Effective, revenue-generating Professional Development programs must continue with realistic planning. Out of the necessity of spreading the Board workload, Board members were assigned oversight of various operational aspects of the Association and the National Office. Consideration should be given to formalizing such a process to broaden the knowledge base of the Association operation and infrastructure. Ultimately, we will be successful in our process of re-structuring and recovery.

RECOVERY PLAN

We have a plan to move the association to better financial health. Some steps have been completed, while others will be initiated in the near future.

  1. Budget cuts and staff reductions - As part of the recovery plan initiated in July 1997, there were staff cuts and the reduction of expenses. Non-essential travel was eliminated. Two publications sales were advertised to reduce the inventory with limited success. We will reduce the number of unsold publications to reduce storage costs and to eliminate unrealizable assets from the balance sheet.
  2. Bare bones Budget for 1998-99 - Two areas of high cost were printing and postage for publications. We have proposed the strategy of electronic delivery/availability of such publications as the Transfer Practices Guide, the Member Guide, and the Data Dispenser. There is a potential savings of $84,000 - $114,000. The cost of providing a secure web site to protect the benefits of membership represents the difference here. A committee of members was organized by Louise Lonabocker to address the issue of the web site. A proposal from this committee is expected this week and will address potential savings and volunteer contributions by members.
  3. No further Reserve Spending - It is the intent of the Board to retain the assets in the reserves as they generate modest interest income.
  4. Minimize borrowing for deficits - We plan to employ better cash management strategies to minimize the need for borrowing to balance cash flow.
  5. Propose a dues increase to balance the budget and restore the reserves.
  6. Initiate a capital campaign among the membership to provide a mechanism for voluntary, personal contributions by members to rebuild the reserve. This would allow time for new leadership to develop other revenue generation strategies, while we maintain an efficient office operation.
  7. Seek ways of reducing the burden of the leased space by negotiations with the landlord and seeking compatible tenants to sublet space.

Active strategies that will be employed on a continuing basis are:

  1. Containment of expenses for space and staff
  2. Restoring Leadership in the National Office by replacing the Executive Director and Financial Manager
  3. Reorganizing the staff and re-engineering the functions of the office
  4. Revenue expansion through contracts, grants and partnerships
  5. On-going risk analysis and management
  6. Rebuilding the financial base at every opportunity.

NATIONAL OFFICE LEADERSHIP PLAN - 1998

Following the decision to change the Executive Director leadership, a primary activity of the Board was the acquisition of interim leadership as quickly as possible. The need was for both financial and managerial leadership. Consideration was given to cost issues because of the need to stay within the funding capabilities of the association. Although staff was diminishing in number, there were termination costs that included payment for accrued vacation and separation agreements. Additionally, some temporary staff was needed to fill the gaps created by staff reductions.

Initially, the Executive Director (ED) was offered an opportunity to remain with the association in a role that he would help to define. We believed that the ED's contacts and affiliations in the Washington would benefit the association. That opportunity was declined.

The Audit Review reported that the Financial Leadership needed to be strengthened. This necessitated the consideration of an interim Executive Director with financial strengths, or two individuals. These factors presented a dilemma of which position should be hired first.

It was decided to hire an Interim Executive Director (IED) and have the IED hire a long-term financial manager. The IED was critical to management of the programs and staff in the National Office. We were uninitiated regarding the possible demands of an association professional. Temporary to them meant a 1 - 3 year commitment. At this point, we solidified our strategy. This strategy was to bring in a known entity for a temporary assignment, and buy more time to make a proper selection that would warrant a 1 - 3 year commitment. This would allow for input by the membership on this issue.

  1. Several AACRAO Past Presidents were identified by that group and were contacted about their availability. One (Clif Sjogren) was determined to be available in early May. He will meet with the Board of Directors this week to develop a clear understanding of the need and expectations of the assignment. This assignment is expected to last 2 - 3 months.
  2. Two IED candidates and a potential financial management consultant were interviewed by a committee of the AACRAO Board in the National Office on March 30-31, 1998.
  3. References are being checked to determine if we should commit to a consulting assignment for the financial manager. That decision will be made by the end of the Annual Meeting. If approved, the assignment could begin as early as April 20, 1998.
  4. Two IED candidates were interviewed during the Annual Meeting. These candidates will be ranked with the two who were interviewed previously.
  5. Candidate searches have been placed with the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives (GWSAE) and American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). These resumes will be screened and interviews conducted. We anticipate that a decision is possible by May 30, 1998. The IED/ED start date will be negotiated to provide a proper transition.

The foregoing activities and plans have been the substance of the last year. We, members all, have a job to do in the process of assure recovery. Will YOU join in the solution??

It is now my pleasure to present to you the Interim Executive Director that we have selected to provide leadership to the National Office for the near term. Please greet a Past President of AACRAO, Clif Sjogren.