Message from Your President

By Vivian Holmes posted 10-16-2014 09:50

It happens all the time. I’m willing to bet it occurs elsewhere and not just in sponsored research offices. A lengthy process,
a fractured procedure, a useless routing, is casually questioned. The response – you’ve heard it a million times: “That’s the
way we’ve always done it.” 

The theme of this issue “New Approaches to Long-Standing Issues” is designed to inspire us to re-examine, reconsider, and
possibly reorganize. Taking a fresh look at an old method takes time and to map out a long-standing workflow to see where
it may break down or get lost is frequently above and beyond our normal duties but taking the “bull” by the horns is worth
it and can be great for efficiency as well as morale. Whether or not a review of a procedure eventually determines the need
for a change, taking a deep look at who is doing what and why, is a requirement not only for proficiency and security, it is a
necessary function of active leadership.

NCURA’s Board of Directors establishes the direction of our organization by implementing a Strategic Plan and formally reviews the plan to determine our preparedness for the future. Over the years, conventions or summits gathering the Board of Directors along with Regional Chairs and Officers have sparked new ideas and initiatives for NCURA by looking together at the future. The Board of Directors and Regional Leaders met for a one-and-a-halfday Leadership Convention just prior to the Annual Meeting. Our theme for this Leadership Convention was “Leading Together: The Next Five Years.” 

The agenda included four areas identified by the Board which we would examine together. Board-assigned working groups would be presenting data, sharing ideas and opening up breakout and brainstorming sessions. Although it was a packed agenda, we planned to include new topics and a sharing of ideas. The four areas were: our regional geographic boundaries; a meeting App demonstration; a look at membership and participation possibilities for our constituency of retiring or emeritus members; and, to revisit one of our newer initiatives, the Executive Leadership Program. 

If you have ever wondered how NCURA’s regions were originally determined, it was in the early 1970s when our founders spread a AAA road map on Secretary Julia Jacobsen’s kitchen table and drew the boundaries for the first set of NCURA’s regions. Now, forty-plus years later the 2014 Board established a working group (Suzanne Rivera, Bruce Morgan, Jeremy Forsberg) to take a look at today’s NCURA — its current population, the demographics of the membership and the way in which they interact with the association and each other. Do our current regions still fulfill the purpose for which they were founded? After a thorough examination of the data related to overall member participation, committee representation and service at the national level,
we learned that the boundaries did not prohibit or inhibit individuals from involvement and although regional representation ebbed and flowed along the way, it appeared balanced, fair and healthy. As we begin to incorporate our International Region activity into our data, we predict and encourage more joint regional meetings and more “local chapter” activities to meet the needs of members far and wide. 

David Smelser, Region III Secretary, University of Tennessee, demonstrated the meeting App “Guidebook” which was used at this year’s Region II & III Spring Meeting. David’s excellent presentation was met with a positive reaction (as well as oohs and ahhs). Imagine the entire Program – schedules, sessions and room locations, descriptions, presenter bios, attendee rosters, and evaluations all on your phone, updated real time. We are moving along to determine NCURA’s use of this type of software for national meetings and conferences in the near future.

With so many NCURA baby-boomers looking forward to retirement, we hope to find ways to keep them “in the fold.” Board members Anne Albinak, Louise Griffin, and Dennis Paffrath, presented solid statistics and excellent ideas. Our Leadership Convention participants whole-heartedly agreed that this group – our mentors, our colleagues, our friends, our heroes – should continue to be part of the NCURA community. I’m happy to say that plans are underway to create an Alumni Club and current leadership will be reaching out to retired and soon-to-retire members for their input and ideas. In
the meantime, we are looking into our current membership categories and getting some Alumni activities planned for 2015. 

The Executive Leadership Program (ELP) has been described as the “graduate program” replacing and following the successful years of the Leadership Development Institute. Denise Wallen (NLDC Vice-Chair) provided an overview of the Program (now entering into its fourth year), including comments from participants which included their enthusiastic praise. The ELP relies on the invitation and recommendation of current leaders to identify those members who have already shown their leadership skills by having served as a regional officer or led a committee or major project. This Program has been successful and the Leadership Convention proved a perfect forum to encourage the Board and regional leaders to nominate active members with
leadership qualities which they plan to develop further as NCURA’s future leaders. 

The 2014 Leadership Convention also helped to raise awareness of the Education Scholarship Fund and set the tone for the generosity and regional competitiveness that followed throughout the Annual Meeting. Meeting our conference goal and surpassing it showed the true spirit of NCURA. 

If any moment in time represents a golden opportunity for “new approaches to long-standing issues,” is it undoubtedly the imminent implementation of the Uniform Guidance. Already, it has generated a flurry of activity as NCURA member colleagues have been generously sharing their interpretations and assessments. Together, we prepare for the reality to begin anew, rewrite our policies and procedures and re-review each process. No problem, we’re all in it together