Colleges, Universities, and Research: A Productive Consolidation

Article excerpt

STRATEGIES

Abstract

Faced with opportunities for its members and AAFCS organizational factors, the Colleges and Universities Section and the Research Section of AAFCS merged to create the Colleges, Universities, and Research Section. Through consolidation, the Sections became a single, larger, stronger Section that extends rather than detracts from the original mission of each.

While both the Colleges and Universities Section and the Research Section have been meeting the needs of members for many years, a decline in membership in the Research Section instigated discussions on merging. History provided a sense of direction. The Research Section originally evolved from a need perceived in the Colleges and Universities Section. The importance of research to the profession beyond those involved in Colleges and Universities was considered to be of great consequence to the future of the Association. The overriding desire of the Research Section now was to preserve its mission in a more efficient and effective manner within the constraints of AA.FCS policy. Following much deliberation, it was suggested that perhaps the Section should be reinstated with the Colleges and Universities Section, thereby maintaining its mission while enhancing the mission of the Colleges and Universities Section. With many members having shared interests in the two sections and with the historic background, consolidation seemed logical.

Discussion occurred between the officers of the Research Section and the Colleges and Universities Section. The possibility of a merger was first considered at the Research Section business meeting in 1998. Since the membership continued to fall short of the policy standard (AAFCS, 2001, 2002), in June, 1999, the Research Section sponsored a forum Future Directions of the Research Section. Issues discussed included the role of the Research Section, reasons for merging, a name for the new section, and a temporary and long-term structure for officers of a combined section. Following the forum, the issue was brought before the membership of the two sections at the respective business meetings. During the 1999 business meetings, members of both sections voted to move forward with the proposal to consolidate.

A vote of all the members in both Sections was required to finalize the merger. In February, 2000, ballots were mailed to all members of the Research and Colleges and Universities Section. Two hundred ballots were mailed to Research Section members and 1,753 were mailed to Colleges and University Section members. Of the 128 Research Section ballots returned, 124 approved the merger. Of the 957 Colleges and Universities ballots returned, 946 approved the merger. Support for the concept was overwhelming!

To effectively communicate the results of the vote and to gain further input as to the new form, leadership, and direction of the combined section, an educational program was conducted during the June, 2000 Annual Meeting. Also at that meeting, the motion to formally merge the two sections was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.

Outcomes

Stimulate Research and Application

As a consolidated section, the newly created Colleges, Universities, and Research Section has the opportunity to stimulate research and its application in professional settings. The merger helps Section members and leaders to refocus on the role of research and to engage in projects that foster research productivity and the infusion of research throughout professional practice. Instead of working in independent "silos," former members of the consolidated Section can contribute in a unified effort. …