Carolyn E. Whittier, Ph.D., 2009 President
Greetings AFA members,
elcome to the Spring 2009 issue of Perspectives, with a focus on the role of assessment and accreditation in today’s fraternity/sorority experience. Assessment and accreditation programs on campuses have a long history, from the original Maryland Plan to the many relationship statements and expectation documents in place on college and university campuses across North America. In addition, our partners in the NIC, NPC, NPHC, NALFO, and NAPA have adopted standards and expectations for their member organizations, and it would be my expectation that these inter/national standards are reflected in the expectations, documents that campus-based professionals are establishing with their students. The Association also has a strong commitment to assessment through our many partnerships and relationships with such organizations as the Fraternity & Sorority Coalition Assessment Project, the AFA/EBI Fraternity/Sorority Assessment, the Center for the Study of the College Fraternity (CSCF), the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS), and our many Associate members who offer assessment and evaluation services to our campuses. I would expect that all fraternity/ sorority professionals are looking at these as tools to achieve excellence and are utilizing them or planning to do so in the near future. As you read this issue of Perspectives, I encourage you to think critically about your role and responsibility when it comes to assessment within the overall fraternal movement. Regardless of your professional or volunteer role, we all have the responsibility to assess our programs to ensure that the desired learning outcomes are being met. That then begs the question – are we intentionally setting learning outcomes for our programs, initiatives, or relationship statements in advance of implementation? How can we know what students are learning unless we have a specific set of pre-established learning objectives? Are we utilizing the feedback from previous programs to alter or change activities to better fit the desired outcomes? The Association is using assessment tools to improve both internal and external operations. We are working diligently to complete the action items in the 2005-2010 AFA Strategic Plan, while also evaluating and giving consideration to what the future holds for the Association. We will be hosting a series of focus group calls with sub-sections of the Association’s membership throughout the year to help inform our next steps. We are also in the planning phase of conducting a membership survey later in the year. This membership survey will be used to ensure that the Association has substantive knowledge of the value of membership in AFA, what programs and resources our members use and/or need the most, and how our members wish to be engaged by the Association to ensure that we are not
Perspectives / Spring 2009
spending resources, both time and financial, on things that are not of value to our members. The Executive Board and Central Office staff are spending time with our members in venues other than the AFA Annual Meeting to listen and gather additional data. We are taking all of these steps to ensure that we can set the best direction for the work of the Association in the future. Some examples of changes that are currently being made within the Association based on our assessment and evaluation of the membership experience include: • The name of the Association has changed to reflect more inclusive language, and we are now the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. • The programming structure of the 2009 Annual Meeting will be adjusted to meet the needs of our members based on the feedback received in the 2008 Annual Meeting Evaluation. • The First 90 Days Program curriculum will be adjusted to reflect new learning objectives to better meet the needs of the 2009 participants. • The Association exhibited at the 2009 NASPA Annual Conference to advocate on behalf of the profession and to ensure that campus-based supervisors had critical information about the profession and the value of membership in AFA. • The Association will be piloting a professional development program in spring 2010 to provide professional development to our members at times other than the Annual Meeting. Assessment and evaluation have informed all of these decisions and can inform many of the decisions you make within your inter/ national organization or on your campus. Assessment will highlight areas of growth while also validating the good work that we are all doing on a daily basis to preserve and uplift the campus-based fraternity and sorority experience. Thank you all for your dedication to improving the fraternity/sorority experience, and please let your Association’s leadership or professional staff know how we can best support you in your professional or volunteer role.
AFA Perspectives Spring 2009