Letter from ACPA Executive Director
Hello ACPA members!
I hope that this greeting finds you well at the beginning of a new academic year and ready to continue boldly shaping and transforming higher education and student affairs through your work and relationships. Whether June through August are a period of rest and renewal for your work or your busiest time of year, I always find the start of a new semester or quarter to be an invigorating time for setting new goals, meeting new people, and welcoming new members into a community. The same is true for professional associations in our field, as this is often the time when new colleagues begin their graduate studies, change institutions or roles, and join or renew their organizational memberships. If you have not updated your membership profile and contact information lately, or if you are due to renew soon, I invite you to log into the ACPA Member Portal to make sure you receive our future communications.
Much like many colleges and universities, the U.S. Congress takes the month of August to reset before facing the remaining months in the calendar year. With different political parties holding majority control over the House and Senate, combined with an unpredictable White House administration, I can report with confidence that following federal policy issues has been a challenge this year. This trend is likely to continue through the rest of the calendar year, leading up to what is predicted to be an even more contentious Presidential election in 2020 than was experienced in 2016. ACPA’s International Office and External Relations leadership and advisory group continues to monitor legislative activity on Capitol Hill, and we have been active in advocating for and reflecting the bold voices of our members in signing onto policy proposals, briefs, and campaigns aimed at the U.S. Congress and Department of Education. In 2019 alone, we have written or signed onto advocacy campaigns related to revisions to the proposed Title IX regulations, sexual assault legislation, support for DACA and Dreamers, tuition assistance for veterans, improvements to capacity of colleges for supporting student access and success, state funding of higher education, and federal labor overtime rules, just to name a few.
And this vigilant work must continue. We are not getting clear indications from either the House or Senate leadership on timelines or goals for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). It seems, to me at least, that both committees are waiting to see what the other will produce while vocally maintaining their independence from what the other is considering. I suspect that we will likely see a modest revision to the HEA reauthorization before the end of 2019 that intends to improve financial aid application processes as a nod to Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander’s departure from the Senate in 2020, given his prior connection to higher education. Many of us are waiting to learn about the status of Title IX regulations from the Department of Education, given that they received over 100,000 submissions during the period of open comment earlier this year. There is no news coming out of the Department of Education on when those regulations might be released. There are some who believe that the Department of Education is waiting to understand what issues related to Title IX the Senate might address in the HEA reauthorization, but the Senate appears to be at a stalemate over Title IX. We can expect, however, that a final rule from the Department of Labor on the topic of overtime eligibility and payment will be released in the near future. Department leaders will want to connect with your institution’s Human Resources and/or Payroll offices to determine whether and how the changes to overtime regulations might influence your campus’ operations.
The work we are doing in monitoring and advocating for our members is done in close collaboration and partnerships with partners in higher education association management, including the American Council on Education, the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, and the Student Affairs in Higher Education Consortium Government Relations group. We are finding that there is strength in uniting with other organizations who share our mission, values, and priorities, and we will continue to boldly do so as we make our way through having our voices heard during chaotic political times and climates.
I am also pleased that a number of ACPA involvement groups have also been bold and vigilant in authoring and publishing their own advocacy campaigns in recent months. I particularly want to highlight the work done by the Commission for Social Justice Educators in releasing a statement and call to action related to the State Government of Hawai’i’s intentions to allow the installation of a thirty-meter telescope (TMT) on sacred Native Hawaiian land found on Mauna Kea. In a similar effort, the Commission for Housing & Residential Life recently released a statement via a blog post on the topics of U.S. states raising the smoking age to 21 and tax endowment implications for private colleges and universities. I can think of no previous time in our history when it is more important to raise our voices in support of the values and purposes we embrace on behalf of college student learning and development, and making the world a safer, more inclusive place.
One needs not look very hard to find evidence of the effects ACPA has had on our campuses and in the lives of professionals. It is clear that we will continue to center the important work of helping college and university campuses address racial injustices and decolonization, while identifying how to continue being the leaders in higher education on this and many other critical issues of our time. We understand that our members expect us to be broad in our scope to support the diverse needs of our profession. We have grown to more than 6,000 strong as an association, and we have many exciting things to look to in our future as we envision “ACPA at 100” leading up to the 2024 Convention in Chicago.
We will share future opportunities for you to engage and provide feedback in this important work in the near future. Until then, I hope you will stay connected to us through involvement in the initiatives and innovations happening in the Commissions, Coalitions and Networks, Communities of Practice, and our State, Regional, and International Chapters. I also hope that you will join us for our 96th anniversary at the ACPA20 Convention in Nashville (March 2-5, 2020) for what will be an amazing experience.
Thank you for being a member of ACPA and thank you for everything you do in support of college student learning and success. I am hopeful for our world’s future because of the bold work you do every single day.
All my best,
ACPA-College Student Educators International