Carol Ann Fabian, President, ARLIS/NAPublished 8/25/2014

Colleagues,

The ARLIS/NA Executive Board has been active throughout the months since our annual conference, most recently meeting in New York for our midyear board meeting. Over two very full days we discussed and acted upon a number of important administrative issues, in addition to taking stock of current initiatives and plans for the future. I offer here a brief on some current work.

Every ARLIS/NA president and board charts a year-long set of goals and hopes to positively impact the Society by introducing stimulating programs, ambitious new directions, and in a way seeks to re-invent the Society to keep pace with evolving needs of our membership. This board is no different in that regard, but while we do have ambitions for change we are also cognizant that at times a backward glance is needed. Our guiding documents--the Bylaws, Policy Manual, Strategic Plan and Action Plan--are all due for review and updates. Working together, the board leadership has begun a methodical review of these documents to bring them into alignment with current practices across the Society. We expect to propose a vote on Bylaws revisions later this fall. In addition, many articles of the Policy Manual are out of date, so we are working to correct these as well.

The Strategic Plan and accompanying Action Plan are nearing the end of their terms. The Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) has very helpfully issued a report that assesses our society-wide success in meeting the goals established in these plans nearly five years ago. While our collective work has been excellent, I have concerns that going forward a fixed multi-year plan has the potential to fall out of sync with a rapidly changing professional landscape. So, I have proposed that rather than creating a new 5-year strategic plan, that the new SPC consider a more nimble framework to guide the Society in the coming years. Starting in 2015, the SPC will work with the membership to envision and define high-level “Strategic Directions” in critical areas as a living document--a visioning exercise in perpetual beta. It's companion document, an online “Action Plan Scorecard" will focus on accountability by allowing the board and members to actively and more transparently document specific actions and accomplishments of ARLIS/NA groups that demonstrate progress in each Strategic Direction.

A critical responsibility of the board is to build a sustainable financial model for the Society. Treasurer Mark Pompelia presented a budget that demonstrates our successes and vulnerabilities. Our discussion covered a lot of ground including our dues structure, marketing options, philanthropic opportunities, charitable giving and a host of other strategies that might strengthen our financial standing. We will be investigating each of these in some detail and will likely introduce changes in several area as the year progresses. For the near term, I have charged Past President Gregg Most to convene a task force comprising members who represent different constituencies of the membership to discuss members' pressing concerns about ARLIS-L commercial postings, and the Society’s interest in establishing an electronic venue for advertisers to market offerings of interest to our members. We hope to reach consensus on these issues very soon.

Although it seems the Washington, DC, conference has just concluded, the Fort Worth conference team is energetically planning an exciting program in this art-intensive and beautiful venue for our annual meeting in March, 2015--more details about Forth Worth soon! We are also in the beginning stages of planning for conferences a few years out, including a joint conference with the Visual Resources Association (VRA) in 2016, and reviewing proposals for conference sites in 2017.

Spoiler alert! This week we will launch the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal--please see upcoming announcements on ARLIS-L for details about our new platform for delivering on-demand learning modules including our first Virtual Conference!

The midyear board meeting is also a time for celebrating important transitions and applauding the success of our colleagues. Notable among these, the board voted unanimously to acknowledge Robert Kopchinski's outstanding service as our association manager, by conferring the title of ARLIS/NA Executive Director. This title more accurately reflects not only the essential roles that Robert performs on our behalf, but also expresses our thanks and high regard for his professional and personal support of the board and the Society.

Board liaisons reported on the remarkable work of our many committees and Special Interest Groups--thanks to all of you, the Society is increasingly more vibrant, invigorated by emerging trends, and by the participation of an actively engaged and committed membership.

I hope as we draw near to the end of August that many of you have enjoyed a relaxing summer break and are now looking forward to a productive autumn as the new semester and fall art season begins!

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President, ARLIS/NA