Greetings ACHE family,
Prompted, and inspired, by this week’s performance of The Hill We Climb by the U.S. Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman; I began to look a bit further into the history of poetry performed for inaugural ceremonies. As I began to explore, I learned that Robert Frost had prepared a poem for the 1961 inauguration that he did not deliver. The snow was so heavy on the morning of the inauguration that army flamethrowers were used to clear the streets of D.C. and it was the heavy snow that forced Frost to pivot on that Friday morning. Frost had written the poem Dedication for the occasion but the glare of the sun off the 8 inches of unanticipated snowfall meant that he couldn’t read the words presented before him. As a true professional though, he quickly made a decision to deliver an older poem he had committed to memory, The Gift Outright.
There were so many days in my 2020 life where I felt like Robert Frost on inauguration morning. I feel confident that many of you have had similar experiences and we made many Frost-like pivots as an association last year. These pivots were only possible because of the extraordinary knowledge and skills of our members. And these skills meant were able to continue to offer high quality content programming to our members. I want to share with you some of the things we accomplished in the face of a difficult year:
- Thanks to Dr. Tina Marie Coolidge, we were able to get the ACHE Webinar series off the ground. The 10-part webinar series prompted nearly 250 people to register to attend. Workshop attendance averaged around 50 participants per session. The content of these sessions has left me more resilient and resourceful in a tumultuous year. And there is good news! We’re looking forward to launching a new webinar series in February. Look for more information about that series in your inbox in the coming weeks.
- Through the leadership of Dr. Walter Pearson, the Journal for Continuing Higher Education has been thriving. Walt has worked to expand the editorial board and revise the work of the editorial team to develop more modern and streamlined processes for the Journal. In addition, we hosted webinars featuring two studies published in JCHE. These webinars caught the attention of journalists at Inside Higher Ed and I’m grateful to Walt for his work in developing these webinar sessions. We hope to continue these research-intensive webinars in 2021.
- We have contracted with a new home office, Nardone Consulting Group, who has done excellent work taking the reins of a new home office. I want to thank again, Dr. Rick Osborn and his team, for their work to restore the financial solvency of the Association and to continue the work of the home office. This all-volunteer job has been a heavy lift and I’m grateful to Rick and his team for their work during the home office transition.
- Thanks to the leadership of Jeni Maple and Julie Shankle, we successfully moved the 82nd annual ACHE conference to a virtual platform. More than 120 members registered and attended the conference. And, importantly, we were able to provide this high-quality professional development experience for a significantly reduced cost. Affordability, in service of accessibility, was important to the planning team as we learned about layoffs, furloughs, and budget cuts for association members. The theme for the 2021 conference is Liberty and Graduation for All: Redesigning Higher Education for Social Justice. Look for a call for proposals to be published in the coming weeks.
I’m so grateful for the work all of you committed to in 2020 and I’m looking forward to more accomplishment and growth in the coming year. My hope, however, is that we will be less effected by the glare that forced pivots in 2020 and that we will be able to deliver revitalized and intentional programming to serve our members in the year ahead.
All the best in 2021,