What is the NIA?

The NIA is NOLS' Faculty Association.  We strive to represent all instructors whether they teach Expeditions or Wilderness Medicine.  We are a 501(c)(5) tax exempt Labor Organization, legally, financially, and operationally independent from the NOLS administration.  


Faculty Engagement / Professional Community / Physical Improvements 
We work to gather feedback from faculty and represent these views to the decision makers at the School.  We also support the flow of information the other way, from the Board of Trustees to the newest IC or ITC grad.  The NIA's role can be summed up as working directly with the administration to support the work done by dedicated instructors and to make the school a better place to work, to learn, and to live.  Specific examples of our efforts include:  
  • Representing Instructors at Board of Trustees meetings.
  • Maintaining a dialogue with John Gans, the Executive Director Team, and Branch Directors
  • Holding Annual and Branch Meetings to gather input from staff
  • Administering a Facebook Group and website to allow for the free exchange of ideas among staff and to to facilitate the flow of crucial information to Instructors outside of Lander
  • Conducting Staff Surveys on issues such as travel reimbursement so that our advocacy is evidence based
  • Run a Mentorship Program to connect newer instructors with their more experienced peers.
  • Administering the Flamingo Fund to bankroll quality of life improvements at NOLS campuses around the world 
  • Hosting social events and an info table at the Faculty Summit
  • Supporting staff trainings such as the various Rendezvous
What have we accomplished?

Many of the things that NOLS does to support Instructors began as NIA projects. Today we may take these “basics” for granted, but it was NIA advocacy, organization, and/or funding that got the ball rolling.

Examples include:
  • Seminars
  • The Staff Newsletter
  • Pro Deal Privileges
  • Instructor Development Fund
We have successfully advocated for:
  • Increasing Compensation
  • Growing Travel Reimbursements
  • More Equitable International Pay Scales
  • Pay for Instructors Aiding One Section During a Proctorship
  • Additional Briefing Time for Rescue Practice
  • A Faculty Only WiFi Network in the Noble Hotel 
Our themes for the current Strategic Plan:
  • Instructor Engagement, including:
    • The inclusion of at least one person whose primary role at NOLS is as a faculty member at all Board of Trustees meetings
    • Continue to advocate for a Director-Level Faculty Chair, funded by a Sal-Fac or endowed position, to represent faculty at the Director and Executive Director level
    • Educating faculty about NOLS' structure and strategy and facilitate consistent communication between Headquarters and faculty
  • Field Faculty Travel, including:
    • Establishing a Travel Plank for the NIA platform that sets a goal of 100% reimbursement of average travel costs
    • Pushing for greater timeliness and clarity in the travel reimbursement process
    • Advocating for an accessible Travel Advance program for faculty who are financially unable to fund their travel in advance of reimbursement
  • Mentorship & Careers, including:
    • Expanding the NIA Mentorship Program
    • Working with the Education, Program, and Staffing departments to improve the SPE process to ensure that faculty can fully engage in feedback without fear of adverse impact on their careers
    • Advocating for Semi-Annual Faculty Positions, increased off-season employment, more predictable career progressions, and intentional hiring of summer-only instructors as strategic needs at NOLS
How Can I Support the NIA?
  • MAINTAIN THE ENERGY: Participate in Meetings
  • MAKE OUR SUPPORT VISIBLEJoin the Facebook Group.  Wear your NIA t-shirt and belt buckle proudly.  Put a sticker on your laptop and mug.
  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK: Contribute to the Forum in the Members-only section.
  • CONTRIBUTE DATA:  Taking an NIA Survey is quick, and gives us the data we need to advocate on your behalf. 
  • WORKPLACE DEMOCRACY:  Volunteer to be a Branch Rep.
  • VOTE:  Elections for NIA Board members are held every December, and we periodically hold Votes to establish the NIA position on major issues.
  • RECRUIT: Tell your fellow Instructors about the NIA and why you support it.  Get them to join.  We call this "exponential recruitment."

Artwork courtesy of NOLS student Liana Vitousek.

New stickers are here:

Show your support. Get yours on the 3rd floor of the Noble, at the Faculty Summit or WMI Staff Meeting, or from your Branch Rep. 

Think creatively.

Act collectively.

Join the NIA.

The mission of the NIA is to communicate and advocate instructor views and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school's mission and values

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