Reflections of the Past
As the immediate past president of the Central States Communication Association, it is time to reflect on the past few years and speculate about my years of service to CSCA and the communication discipline. Where have we been during almost a decade now, and where are we going?
It seems as though 1993 was just last year, and the Oklahoma City convention has just been completed. The intervening years seem to have passed very quickly--more quickly than I ever imagined they would.
When I assumed the duties of CSCA Executive Secretary on July 1, 1993, the association had completed a period of turmoil and tribulation, and was beginning to get back in order. My three predecessors had worked hard at making CSCA solvent again and on solid financial standing. In fact, I inherited about $60,000 in CDs that had been reserved to get Communication Studies caught up. Much had happened during a period of transition when a volume or more (at least 4 issues) had been lost and had to be reconstructed, plus the major concern of the journal editors was to keep the quality of the journals high rather than sacrifice quality for expediency. So at the time I started, the journal was almost two years behind schedule.
I was amazed at first how much of the association business (the keeping of financial records, correspondence, and membership records) was still done largely by hand (not on a computerized accounting package) and filed in hard copy. I asked the board to approve spending for an accounting package that would work on our then old Mac computer that had been purchased when Larry Miller was Executive Secretary. With that approval, we moved into the computer era more completely. We already had a computerized membership file, but it was not an up-to-date computer program either. This is not to fault previous Executive Secretaries, but rather shows the frugality of the association in getting back on track financially before we began the move to improve the association's computerization.
As with all technology, ours was woefully out of date. By the second year of my term, we also purchased a new computer, which has now been passed on to Terry Perkins. Seven or eight years is a long time for a computer system these days. Unfortunately, the new computer was not the one that could be transported easily to and from the convention as the old computer had been, so I purchased my own laptop (which I could justify for myself at this point). I also purchased a small printer that I could carry along to conventions for those immediate jobs that could not be anticipated but needed at the convention to be done. Many of the old computer programs needed updating at that time as Larry, Linda, and Dan had all used the same old programs--that's ten years on some of the programs.
The association's major money problems were behind us, so I could concentrate on trying to get the journal caught up, and maybe spend a little more money to enhance the conventions, without being too extravagant. The idea was to increase the provisions of the convention, but not to overdo anything that would require an increase in membership fees. Gus Friedrich, the Finance Committee Chair by this time, and the Executive Board were concerned that membership be maintained without any additional costs while we attempted to get the association back on track.
Although I would not like to dwell on the journal being off schedule, it was probably the most challenging task of taking care of CSCA business during my tenure as Executive Secretary. It was a daily headache as libraries and members called to complain that they had not received a journal for the current period or year. I was forever explaining that the journal had been behind schedule for a period of time, and that the association was working diligently to catch up. There were a number of individual and library subscribers who canceled their memberships during this time period because the journal was not on time. …