Charlotte, North Carolina - 1999

As a member of AACRAO for 38 years, I looked forward to having a rewarding experience as your President. I had no idea that this simple objective would be so difficult. Our organization provides the professional forum for Registrars and Admissions officers, worldwide. We are the leaders in our respective fields. Just as Registrars and Admissions Officers are vital to the functioning of universities and colleges, so should AACRAO be a major player in development of legislative and managerial regulations. Our institutions cannot operate without us, but we should not pretend to be something that we are not. It is not practical to try and create a new niche while ignoring our original mission. As we all are aware, the professional lives of leaders overflow with opportunities to make change for the better while maintaining solidarity and communication among schools and organizations, both large and small. Our goal here is to improve the quality of what we have to offer, not detouring into areas already burgeoning with other groups

Unfortunately, it has been an uphill battle to realize just one of the many goals that I had set for the organization and myself. I believe that we should expand the goals of AACRAO while exercising caution to not overstep our boundaries. There remain a number of initiatives that I believe need to be addressed briefly today. Before continuing however, I would like to invite you to read my November presentation for PACRAO that is currently on the PACRAO website. Also the April Data Dispenser, included in your tote bags, contains an interview I gave with Barmak Nassirian, our Associate Executive Director. I consider both articles to be sources for my remarks today.

AACRAO must expand its international base. It is important that we bring together people and institutions overseas in order to broaden our relationship with the world. With more and more students from overseas enrolling in American universities, a larger network of foreign universities will augment AACRAO's role in the higher education community. Those individuals and institutions involved can participate in reviving the spirit of international cooperation. We have made a fine start on this goal by having in attendance today our guests from universities in the United Kingdom introduced earlier at the Opening Session.

We must encourage greater involvement of Community Colleges in the membership of the organization. Close to half of the colleges in this country are two-year institutions yet we still have not implemented enough programs that are specific to their needs. With an increase in effort to integrate these schools more fully into the membership at-large, AACRAO and the community colleges can benefit. A broader range of services must be developed: such as workshops delivered to those areas of the country that have a significant number of two-year schools. For first time at the December Board Meeting last year in San Diego, I invited and was pleased to have AACRAO members and even non-AACRAO members join us from local colleges, two year institutions and universities.

In a similar manner, AACRAO must establish a more formal relationship with both state and regional associations. By sharing programs and services, we can become a formidable yet cohesive organization in the higher-ed community. I have considered initiating this process by inviting all presidents-elect of each state and regional executive committee to a leadership meeting to be held in Washington DC. Why not Presidents, you may ask? I believe that presidents-elect have a greater chance to consider those issues within their associations prior to their time as president. Their significant impact can be felt longer over the course of their terms by implementing such a measure. Also, the first Leadership Conference for Committee Chairs that was held at the AACRAO Office in February needs to be continued. With the added benefit of greater committee participation and representation, AACRAO and its member institutions can help guide individuals through the complexities of such government regulations as FERPA and IPEDS.

Another comparable action that needs to be weighed is the institution of a more fruitful dialogue with the American Council of Education, our neighbor and landlord on Dupont Circle. It is only logical that both organizations work together in some fashion to achieve the common goal of facilitating schools' and students' needs. Our closer relationship to A.C.E. is evidenced by the attendance of Dr. Stanley Ikenberry, President of A.C.E., who will be our plenary speaker this afternoon. It is my sincere belief that our partners within the field, whether they are the unsung heroes of small community colleges or the Registrar of Cambridge University, can only serve to strengthen AACRAO.

It is essential that AACRAO maintain a complete history of the organization. This will be accomplished by keeping accurate records of board and committee activities. For example, a set of minutes should be published in a timely manner following meetings. Problems or questions may arise, and without the history that minutes offer, there is too much room for a shift in the focus of the organization. Minutes should be published both electronically on our website and in summary form in the Data Dispenser. It is also my recommendation that the National Office hire a full time business manager whose responsibilities would include keeping the membership informed of financial dealings.

On a lighter note, I do think some minor changes can he made in the planning of the Annual Meeting. While this meeting may not be a party in the sense of the word, it is one of the few opportunities that we can come together to share our concerns while still having a good time. At the moment I can think of the work Louisiana ACRAO has done with the planning of the 1970, 1980, and 1990 New Orleans engagements as well as GACRAO's perennially fun meetings. Both have managed to conduct efficient and stimulating gatherings without shortchanging time for the avid golfers or those that just want to relax. The annual meeting should be a working holiday, free from the everyday pressures of our respective institutions.

There have been quite a few developments that put AACRAO on the road to recovery. It was not until after the Salt Lake City meeting that details surfaced that indicated the extent to which our 89-year-old organization was floundering. Mistakes in several areas had been made, and are presently being corrected. We have returned from the brink of bankruptcy due to the exemplary work of numerous people. Although it may appear to be only an increase in dues and reduced services, I believe we are in the process of streamlining the operation of AACRAO and the AACRAO Office. The Board of Directors has been establishing a foundation for the association's upcoming year. It is my continuing hope that the new Board will engage the membership in a profitable give and take, where every voice, including the board's, is heard and acknowledged.

Although I have been accused of being an old man, behind the times, with no forward thinking, there have been occasions when I shied from feelings of discouragement to fight for what I felt was the right thing to do for AACRAO. I could have devoted most of my limited time this morning to thank many people. Support, in its myriad forms, has come from numerous people and I thank them today for everything they have done. You know who you are. However, I will thank those of you who have been so supportive in a more complete and appropriate manner in an upcoming Data Dispenser.

I would, however, like to thank a small group that will probably not attend another AACRAO Meeting. My family has been understanding, compassionate and tolerant for not seeing me much during vacation periods and then having to listen to various CRO stories as they call them. Shannon, Andy, Sean & Kristina, THANK YOU. And extra special thanks to my bride of just about 40 years, Bobbi. If anyone deserves an AACRAO Distinguish Service Award, it is she. For the past 26 months she hasn't seen much of me, which at times I am sure, she has enjoyed. Her counsel, patience, insight and love are appreciated beyond words.

My promise to you, the membership, is that I will maintain my role as the AACRAO watchdog. I have invested too much of myself in this organization to fade quietly into the background as your past president. There is too much I would like to say, this morning, both good and bad, about what I have experienced over the past 26 months. Rather than deepening these old wounds or dwelling on past mistakes, I am convinced that we can work together toward a common vision, and make AACRAO what it should be: the foremost organization for improving our profession.

We are not totally out of the woods. I am leaving the remedy to future boards and to you the membership, to maintain vigilance to see that AACRAO returns to its former prosperity. If we learn from history, from the resolution of conflicts between egos and legacies, it will be impossible for similar mistakes to happen. You, the membership, are in control. We must get beyond labeling those who question policy or those in leadership positions as trying to harm AACRAO. There is no such thing as an opposition party. We are a group of concerned volunteer members who strive to make their organization better. I thank you, the professionals in AACRAO, who take the time and make the effort to raise issues with the leadership. AACRAO can only become strong once again if there is diligence from the membership to make our activities meaningful and the best they can be.

Concern is not divisiveness. Sincere honesty can only make AACRAO a better organization.

It has been an honor to serve as your president.