Four months into 2022, if you asked me to pick SAAL’s one word for the year, it would undoubtedly be “evolution”. Student Affairs Assessment Leaders is 14 years old this year. Right now, we cautiously approach the end of this pandemic, continue to be in the midst of a racial justice pandemic, see significant shifts in the higher education employee landscape, and are working to navigate our new normal with student engagement and assessment. While SAAL is the same organization at heart, significant shifts are needed to position us for our future.
For the first time in recent history, we are engaged in a strategic planning process as an organization. Our dedicated and talented leader in this process, Renee Delgado-Riley, has hosted sessions to hear the wants and needs of the SAAL membership and coached the board through a series of sessions to focus our strategic priorities for the future.
While the heart of SAAL remains the same, we serve as a space to create an assessment community for those who do student affairs assessment work, how we do this work is changing. If you are curious about the history of SAAL, listen to our podcast. What used to be a monthly structured conversion has grown into an incredible online MOOC, podcasts, a blog, AND monthly structured conversations. The Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry has a robust, thoughtful, and talented editorial board ready to read through submissions as they come.
Right now we are like a duck on water, slow and steady in our outward-facing responsibilities and furiously kicking to stay afloat just under the surface. Why? A multitude of reasons, accumulated over time, that we are looking to address as we shift gears as an organization.
- We need to take care of the people who make us work. Our volunteers are our heart and soul. When they thrive, we thrive as an organization.
- We have never clearly crafted our future. We’ve grown. We’ve developed partnerships. We’ve made adjustments over time. But we have never sat down and planned our future as an organization and now we are.
- Even to those of us who have been involved with SAAL for over a decade, learning how to get involved and play a role in advancing the community can be a struggle. We want to clarify how to get involved and opportunities for involvement. What DO YOU DO when you help lead SAAL? How much experience do you need to have? Are you qualified? The short answer is, yes. If you are dedicated and excited about assessment in student affairs, you are qualified to make meaningful contributions to our organization.
- We are positioned to advance the profession through our partnerships, collective skills, online course, and regular membership and landscape surveys. We want to leverage these mechanisms to make meaningful contributions, backed by data, that advance the profession. Some of the questions we have about our work include - are we accessible to diverse institution types? Are we living our values of equity and justice, and how?
- Our community members are filled with knowledge and experience. We want to highlight that for the whole community. One small way you will see this start to happen [right now] is through blog posts, Tip Tuesdays, and Follow Fridays on our social media accounts.
In short, we are changing, evolving, and learning as an organization. This blog is one step in sharing the challenges and successes of our evolution. If you are curious about what happens next or want to get involved, we would love to hear from you (yes, YOU!).
Blog written by Ciji A. Heiser, 2022 SAAL Chair
Stay tuned for more.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk or get involved.