Letter from the President
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Posted by: Steve Frye, AAACE President
In 2004, at my very first AAACE conference in Louisville, I was approached about working with graduate students to look for ways to better include students in the annual conference. Since that early involvement, AAACE has been my professional home. This journey has led me through directing the Graduate Student SIG, serving on the Board as the Director of the Commission of Affiliate Organizations, Chairing the conference in Albuquerque, and now taking on the role as President. There is an old quote attributed to Groucho Marx where he says, “I don’t care to belong to any club that have me as a member!” In my new role, this question comes to mind: “do I want to be member of an organization that would elect me as president?” All joking aside, I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve this year as AAACE president. During the past 12 years I have watched some amazing people serve as president, and it is with a tremendous sense of excitement and honest trepidation that I enter into this position.
I believe we are in a good place as an organization. Finances are stable and we just enjoyed a successful annual conference. As I look ahead at the coming year, there are some goals I would like to see us address as an organization. I believe that partnering with like-minded organizations is an important part of our future. While AAACE has had many partnership agreements in our 64-year history, this past year we saw a dramatic increase in the number of organizations entering into strategic partnership relationships with the organization. As with anything experiencing rapid growth, we will need to continue to refine the best ways to flesh-out these relationships. This as an important part of us moving forward and I look forward to seeing how things evolve.
A strategic planning retreat, held in November, helped to identify some workable action items for the coming year. The following will be part of this year’s focus:
- Create a clear-focused communications plan to promote the value of who we are
what we do. We will create an “I Am an Adult Educator” campaign to better showcase the breadth and depth of the field of Adult Education.
- Evaluate the annual conference model, including fees and structure.
With the rapidly rising costs involved in convention planning, a task force has already been established to address this.
- Create a comprehensive membership engagement plan. Discussion are already under way. 4. Continue to refine the roles and expectations of Commissions and SIGS. We have seen many changes in recent years: the addition of two new Commissions (CDLT) and Graduate Students) and new SIGS.
This is a great time to be a part of this organization. The need for adult education have rarely been more pressing or focal. We are seeing an unprecedented shift in age in the U.S. population. In the U.S., senior adults (65+) actually outnumber Children/Youth (ages 10-19), with a median age of 37.8 (US Census.gov estimate, 2015). Rapid changes in all aspects of
society call for all adults to be life-long learners. Working adults are in constant need of learning and re-tooling, business and industry have a growing need for a more literate and learned workforce, and I think it can go without saying that critical thinking skills are at a premium. Many states in the U.S. are emphasizing the adult learner in higher education. There is no shortage of possibilities, and the skills and knowledge found in the field of adult education are needed now more than ever. I look forward to our part in this journey.