Rocky Mountain Spring Meeting Hosted by Molly Herber

Sunday, April 22, 2018 7:58 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

Location: NOLS Rocky Mountain

Season: Spring, 2018

Date: 4.17.18

Facilitated by: Molly Herber, NIA Board Member

Notes taken by: Dave Durant, NIA Board Member

Edited by: Hannah Darrin, NIA Campus Rep Coordinator, Mike Froehly, NIA Board Member 

Attendees: Jared Spaulding, Kate Sirianni, Ashley Schmid, Liz Townsend, Caitlin Rex, Riley Rice, Karen Debonis, Teresa Boverer, Suza Bedient, McKenzie Kelsey, Dave Durant, Molly Herber, Mike Froehly


These notes are a summary of topics discussed at a specific NIA meeting. They are meant to capture the “flavor” of the meeting. They do not represent official positions of NOLS or the NIA.


Molly recapped some of the NIA’s foci from the previous year, as well as plans for the upcoming year.  

NIA Surveys

At the January 2018 NOLS Board of Trustees Meeting, Sean Williams, NIA President, presented the results of the NIA Compensation Comparables Survey, which we feel considers more data than the Compensation Comparables Survey run by NOLS HR.  Advocacy backed up by surveys seems to be very well received by the Board of Trustees.  The results of our survey are available on the NIA website.

NIA Participation on NOLS Committees

Many NIA members are serving on current Survey Committees being run by NOLS Administration.  E.g. Molly is on the In-town committee, Mike Froehly and Summers Eatmon Williams are on the Field Faculty committee, which has been discussing topics ranging from transparency in school-wide decision making to the need for more consistent work for field instructors.

[In an email dated 4/20/18 recounting the most recent Executive Team Forum, it was announced that there would be no compensation increases at the school for FY2019. - Ed.] 

Open Forum

[Several attendees requested that their names not be attached to specific comments they made.]

Dave: The NIA encourages everyone who works for NOLS to fill out all the surveys that are being circulated, either by the NIA or NOLS.  It’s a great way to deliver feedback. 

Jared: NOLS RM is now sending out post-course surveys. 

Question: Is there something we should be writing at the end of our program evals?  Dave:  Faculty Representation, in particular participation in hiring committees at the Executive Team Level.  One attendee, suggested that we ask the BoT what their timeframe will be for selecting the next Executive Director.

A long time NOLS Instructor expressed that she sees a lot of “vitality” at the level right below the ET, and she’s excited to see these people move up.

Dave: Does it seem like a good use of energy for the NIA to be advocating for a seat on hiring committees for A & B level employees?  Those present agreed that this seemed reasonable, and like a good use of energy and capital.  No one dissented.  One attendee wondered how or if Outward Bound involves faculty input in top level hiring decisions.

Dave gave an explanation of NOLS Admin HIerarchy (BoT > President > Executive Team > Branch Directors).  Even long time NOLS instructors seem to only have a vague idea of how this works.  There was a discussion of NOLS pay scale, including compensation figures for the 5 highest paid employees, which are publically available on NOLS’ 990 tax form.

Dave: Should the NIA allow intown employees to join?  One member: historically the NIA has mostly advocated for quality of life for Instructors.  Intown staff and instructors have different lifestyles. 

What percentage of Instructors are current NIA members? About 30%.  What‘s the NIA’s strategy for growth?  Campus Reps (formerly known as “Branch Reps”), individual instructors attempting to recruit their co-workers on each iTeam, addressing IC grads.  

Why don’t people join the NIA?  Some don’t understand why they have to pay dues.  Others say that they can’t afford $20 per year.

How should the NIA communicate with instructors?  We are no longer permitted to submit  Weekly Managers’ Notes.  The Staff Newsletter is morphing.  How should we communicate with members and potential members?  E-mail?  Podcast?  Physical paper mail?  The consensus seems to be for quarterly email updates, with the info in the body of the email.  Should the NIA take the newsletter back over?  A few members expressed that they would be more likely to read something that arrived in paper format.  Perhaps printed copies could be circulated to branches. 

New Member

Please welcome Suza Bedient, NOLS Instructor of 28 years, who joined the NIA for the first time after this meeting.

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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