Jennifer Joslin, director of the Office of Academic Advising at the University of Oregon and NACADA member since 2000, was recently elected to a three-year term on the NACADA Board of Directors. She will serve from October 2010 – October 2013. We sat down with Jennifer recently:
What made you join NACADA?
After 5 years (at the University of Iowa) as an advisor, I started to become more aware of the national and regional look of advising. It took me a little bit to understand that advising was bigger than just individual work with students on an individual campus…I was also getting more involved in training and development. I frequently talk about the importance of having a “major” when you’re professionally involved in the association, and training and development has been my focus. So I worked with the director of the office and we did a presentation in Orlando in 2000 on training and development. It was really one of the first talks or sessions on how offices should be preparing year-round and have on-going training and development for their advisors.
What was your first leadership role within NACADA?
By attending the conference, I started going to the LGBT Concerns Commission and realized the ways in which ongoing programming and training actually could be applied in the commission. So, I first got involved in the commission level by seeing what was going on in that commission and realizing that I had things to add.
Then I started doing book reviews. Marsha Miller (NACADA Assistant Director for Resources and Services) worked with me. Once you show an interest and people get to know your name, they ask you to stay involved. I started getting involved regionally in the mid-2000s and ended up doing the region conference chair in Iowa City for Region 6 in 2006 and was chair of the LGBT Commission too and then was doing more and more writing and contributed to the Special Populations monograph (#17). So, slowly over time, it builds up.
So, at that point, I would have said that I had two “majors”: training and development and then LGBT & diversity issues. So, I was either writing on those issues, presenting on those issues, or being involved in the NACADA leadership with commission chairs.
Some of these NACADA appointments are time limited, right?
Absolutely. Some positions are elected and some things are appointed. Some are time-limited, some are ongoing. Writing, the commitment to being involved in publications, is ongoing. My dissertation professor always said that if you want to influence the field you have to write and speak in the field. You can’t just be one voice on the coast, you have to put yourself out there and write about what is interesting to you. And that also helps influence what people are writing and saying about what’s going on, and that work is ongoing.
How does it work for the Board of Directors?
The Board of Directors are all elected. As with all the elected positions, you have to create a platform, and answer certain questions that NACADA has for you.
Is it a natural progression from the commission level? You didn’t have to be on the council to be eligible for the board, right?
That’s right, so there actually are board members who’ve been regional chairs, commission chairs, or advisory board chairs. They’ve never served on the council. The council deals with day-to-day member issues and looks at the development of member driven initiatives. The board looks at the sustainability of the organization as a whole. They are focusing on global issues, technology as it relates to what we need to be doing as an association, and sustainability, both financial and environmental.
What do you want to see happen within your three-year term?
I’d like to see issues of social media and technology addressed. I don’t think advisors feel as prepared to enter into the next ten years of technology and social media. NACADA has to play a role in building in technology training and technology development into our work overall with members. We have to expand member skills.
Sustainability is another issue. Universities are really starting to focus on environmental sustainability and advising offices. We have to think, “Are we still in coherence with our university’s mission if we’re not addressing environmental sustainability issues in our offices?”
Region 8 has really creative and dynamic folks—especially surrounding sustainability and technology.
What would you say to the members of Region 8 who are interested in a leadership position but they don’t feel they have anything to contribute?
Every member has something to contribute – I firmly believe that. Start with really small things that feel manageable because you’re figuring out how these things will fit into your daily job. I’ve never been involved in NACADA that they didn’t make what I did better.
So get involved in any way you want. It may be completely at the regional level. (The work) does translate to the national level. And because so much translates, you’ll be surprised at how comfortable you are (making the transition). Once folks know you at the regional level and the national level, you’ll be asked to stretch because they know the “major” you’ve chosen, and they know that you have an important voice based on your experience
One of the differences from when I was involved ten years ago to now is that there are so many more opportunities to be involved then there were when I started because the structure of NACADA has changed, and it will keep changing. We’re really going to see a different NACADA in 5 years, ten years.
Congratulations on your appointment.
Thank you. And while we don’t represent regions (on the Board), I feel like I’m showing the Region 8 flag. It’s a good region and there are a lot of dynamic things going on.