A 14-member task force charged by ACUI’s Board of Trustees to develop strategies for enhancing regional engagement has submitted a 21-page report that trustees are currently reviewing. Citing a decrease in regional participation, the Board of Trustees established the task force in July 2022 and members began meeting last November.
In making four priority recommendations and five secondary recommendations, the Regional Engagement Task Force noted a series of themes present within focus groups, conversations with stakeholders, and a regional engagement survey: Changing Nature of Higher Education, Core Purpose of the Regions, Regional Identity, Regional Offerings, Regional Conferences, Barriers to Achieving Purpose, Reasons for Volunteering, Volunteer Positions and Structure, Volunteer Experience and Support, and Student Involvement and Programming.
Recommendations based on the themes were made to the Board of Trustees, who are now processing options for moving forward. According to ACUI President Neela Patel, “It was clear that the task force was thorough in their work, and we are appreciative of their time and energy. It is now up to the board to determine what can be implemented and what might need further investigation.” ACUI CEO John Taylor noted that the timing of the report coincides well with the strategic planning process. “Over the next six months, the board will be developing the Association’s 2024–29 strategic plan, and I could definitely see the task force report and recommendations shaping its direction.”
Working through four subcommittees—Component Groups; Engagement Survey; Member Conversations; and Research, Benchmarking, and Previous Reports—the task force conducted listening sessions, Regional Conference town halls, and group interviews with regional leaders, board members, Central Office staff, and members of the Education Council, Volunteer Development Team, and the Seasoned Professionals and Retirees Community of Practice. A review of data from previous assessments and reports, peer associations, and past program evaluations was also conducted, in addition to a needs assessment survey delivered to recent volunteers, inactive volunteers, and students.
Members of the task force were co-chair Wendy Denman, University of North Texas; co-chair Sarah Comstock, University of Puget Sound; Brent Delong, Boise State University; Kris Day, University of Michigan; Joe Hayes, Indiana University-Purdue University—Indianapolis; Carole Dowell, Virginia Commonwealth University; Tara Benson, Missouri State University; James Van Roekel, Sam Houston State University; Alison Doehring, University of Akron; Barb Carlton, Elon University; Erin Farrell, University of Massachusetts–Boston; Martin Ryan, University of Limerick, Ireland; Ashley Katz, Western Illinois University; and ACUI staff liaison Justin Rudisille.