A Message from AACIS President

Hello everyone.  Can you believe our conference in Ogden, UT was six months ago?  I guess since I didn’t make it there, it seems like it has been much longer since I have seen many of you.  I still feel like the kid who had to miss Christmas.  Anyway, life goes on, and so does my presidency.




I should probably mention that this is one of those articles THAT YOU SHOULD READ… not because I am a profound writer or because I am one of those arrogant people who thinks that what I have to say is more important than anyone else, but you should read this article because it contains important information regarding the future direction of AACIS.


I should back up a little bit and give you some information about myself.  Almost two years ago I was asked to run for President of this organization.  I remember being honored that someone was confident that I could serve in this position.  But after the flattery wore off, I remember thinking to myself, “Ok.  Now what?  Now that I have the position, what should I do with it?” 


After much deliberation I thought it would be beneficial to investigate where this organization has been.  In all honesty, even being a member for over a decade, I still didn’t know where we had come from or why we had originated.  The best way to find out, I thought, was to put together a panel presentation in Utah to talk about our origins.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there for the discussion, and as a result, I thought I should go one step further and create a task force to help me clarify “where have we been” and “where we want to go.” 


The taskforce has been very busy helping me do what I refer to as “good work.”  (Thank you, Mr. Keillor, for that phrase.)  After all, when the day is done and we leave the chaos and of our office, isn’t that what we need to look toward to help us sleep at night.  The good work?


The taskforce consists of Von Pittman, Jane Hancock, Leah Blakey, Lisa Bourlier, Elizabeth Houdek, Deb Gearhart, and myself.  We have been investigating the key question “Where is AACIS going?” After several conversations a couple of key themes have surfaced.


1.               AACIS needs to have a serious discussion about the possibility of changing its name to better reflect the changes that are happening in our industry and in our institutions.  A discussion about the words independent study vs. distance learning and synonyms such as these need to take place.


2.               The AACIS Board membership and the board members responsibilities need to be reviewed and revisited.  Many of the roles have changed, and the make up of the board should reflect those changes.


3.               We need to market ourselves not only to ourselves, but to colleagues throughout the world of distance education.


4.               Our web-presence needs to be reviewed, updated, and refined.


5.               We need to survey our members to find out what value they receive from this organization.  Doing so will help us promote our organization better.


6.               To take care of our future we need to take care of our past.  This will require that we develop a better plan for archiving our materials.


7.               AACIS may have to spend some of its reserve funds to make these changes happen.


8.               The current way in which membership is addressed and the collection of dues needs to be revisited.


Ok.  How about that for a few things on my plate?  That is the where we are during this fine April day.  More discussions are going to take place on these issues, and the taskforce will continue to meet to bring forth a set of deliverables to the next AACIS conference.


I will be posting discussion topics on the list-serve shortly to get input from all members of the organization, so watch for those, and be sure to respond honestly.  After all, I am here to serve your needs, not my own.


I am very much enjoying my term as president, and I certainly don’t take the responsibility lightly.  I will do my best to maintain open communication with all of you.  As always, if you have any issues that you want to discuss with me, feel free to contact me directly at any time.




Jon Skaare

AACIS President 2007-2008


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