From the President

From the November 2017 issue of AEJMC News

“Strengthening the AEJMC Community”

 

I’m picking up where Paul Voakes left off (something I’ve been doing my whole career at AEJMC, by the way).  In his final presidential column, Paul quoted a new member who attended her first business meeting in Chicago, where we changed up the format and inserted a boisterous, fun and extremely productive brainstorming session about the future of AEJMC.

That new member told Paul, “This is what community-building feels like.”

Evoking that feeling was very much the goal when the officers and AEJMC staff brainstormed about turning the traditional business meeting into a town hall. We wanted to engage our members and together envision the organization’s future.

Community building also is my key initiative as 2017-18 AEJMC president. Our association is strong, vital and financially stable, something not many 105-year-old organizations can boast. But, as always, there is room to grow, improve and reimagine. To remain vital, we must collectively provide our members value so that they continue to see AEJMC as their preferred community of scholars.

My initiative, and the theme of the AEJMC 2018 Conference in Washington, D.C., is titled “Strengthening Our Community: Working Together to Build Scholars, Educators, and Engaged Academic Citizens.”

This initiative complements the work of the past two presidents, Lori Bergen and Paul Voakes, who focused on our role in building a strong democracy and building bridges to the profession. Those platforms looked outward; my platform looks inward. The beauty of having a new president each year is that we can focus on different components of our mission at different times.

At our town hall in Chicago, we asked those in attendance to work in groups to examine the greatest needs of our individual members and detail how AEJMC could meet those needs.

Some of the emergent themes relevant to internal community building include increasing resources for individual professional development, making our work more relevant to educators in a fast-changing environment, enhancing the brand of AEJMC, improving internal communication, helping scholars increase the productivity and impact of research, and nurturing graduate students, faculty members from underrepresented groups and international scholars.

The Board of Directors will discuss these themes at our Winter Meeting in December.

In addition, I’ve appointed a presidential task force, to be headed by Jan Slater, to examine how to increase the value AEJMC provides to its members and how to strengthen membership and participation in our divisions and interest groups.

One of the key concerns I have as a 24-year member of the organization is the drop-off in the percentage of our members who belong to divisions and interest groups. When the AEJMC central office pulled data for me last year, about 52% of our members did not belong to any subgroup of AEJMC. That means a majority of members are missing out on key benefits offered by divisions and interest groups.

I know how valuable those divisions and interest groups can be in a young scholar’s life. My leadership role in a division provided me with co-authors, research mentors, tenure reviewers, job recommendations and on-the-job training for my career in administration. Further, divisions and interest groups offer many of the things discussed at the town hall: Research funding, mentoring, travel assistance, professional development, links to the professions and more. Improving communication about what these groups have to offer and getting more members to take advantage of them is an easy first step in enhancing the value of an AEJMC membership.

The membership presidential task force will present a report to the Board in D.C. next year and likely will carry its work into Marie Hardin’s term as president in 2018-19. Marie also has started a task force on graduate education, which should help us better serve – and better attract – graduate students. This initiative also will help us be more relevant to members teaching in graduate programs.

I’m honored to serve as your president this year, and will be even more honored if some of my efforts make a small difference as we work together to strengthen our AEJMC community.

By Jennifer Greer
University of Alabama

jdgreer@ua.edu
2017-18 AEJMC President


“From the President” is courtesy of AEJMC News.

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