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Who Represents Instructors? by Dave Kallgren

Thursday, September 25, 2014 12:11 PM | Allie Maloney

This year the Board of Trustees has questioned whether the NIA actually represents the majority of all staff. While we are sensitive to the concerns of our in-town colleagues (many of whom are also instructors), we have never intended to represent all staff. We do believe we accurately represent Instructors, but we are now being invited to sit at the table at only one of the three annual Board of Trustees meetings. While we will continue to submit written reports to all Board meetings and our representation to the Executive Director Team, staffing, and other administrators will remain unchanged, we are very concerned with this decrease in communication and credibility with Trustees.

As we currently understand it, the plan is for the NIA President to represent staff and sit at the table as usual at one meeting, while another representative will attend the second annual meeting. It is not clear how this representative will be chosen, though for now it will be someone from the Morehead committee. This isn't all bad since the Morehead surveys have invariably validated what the NIA has presented as the staff viewpoint. The personal opinion of this representative, however they are selected, will obviously be important, but if they are advocating for the concerns and strengths identified in the Morehead report they will be very similar to the NIA position. The NIA has chosen to remain a faculty organization rather than become an all-employee Union in order to focus on teaching and curriculum, but we support the concept of better representation for in-town employees. We do not believe that must come at the expense of reduced faculty representation.

The third annual Board meeting is held in Lander in October, and apparently the ideas is that no specific staff representative is needed since many staff are in town and able to attend. We have encouraged maximum staff participation at all Board meetings, but now it is especially important for instructors and staff to attend in order to keep our representation strong. This year's meeting is on Oct. 10 and 11, and there will be an NIA sponsored all-staff party on the evening of the 10th. We'll post more of the schedule separately.

The NIA goal going forward is to avoid turning this unfortunate situation into a confrontation. It's worth remembering that the goal of all parties here is to support NOLS. What we need to do is to demonstrate to the Trustees that the NIA does in fact represent the vast majority of faculty, and that means boosting our membership numbers.

This isn't just about us. The NIA has been essential to the survival of NOLS in the past and we believe that strong representation of the faculty viewpoint and field experience remains crucial to the heart and soul of the school. If you are a current member you already understand this. You can encourage others to join and take part in our discussions. If you log in to our website, nolsinstructorassociation.org, you can see who current members are under Members/Directory.

The NIA is the independent way Instructors can represent ourselves at NOLS. To do so we need your participation and membership, now more than ever. Let's have a good turnout for the Board meeting, and do wear your flamingo logo with pride. With a little luck the annual flamingo migration will arrive in Lander October 10 and paint the town pink. See you there.

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