NCA Leadership Meets to Discuss a Range of Issues
The association’s Executive Committee (EC) and Boards met in February for NCA’s annual leadership retreat. The Educational Policies and Research Boards discussed a wide range of new and ongoing programmatic initiatives; the Publications Board talked about how to maintain the strength of our journals; and the Finance Board reviewed the association’s investments and began planning for the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget.
The EC addressed a diverse agenda that featured several highlights. First and foremost, the group approved a new NCA-level award, The Orlando L. Taylor Distinguished Scholarship Award in Africana Communication. This award will recognize a scholar whose body of scholarship demonstrates a sustained commitment to the study of African American and/or the African Diaspora communication and culture. If you would like to contribute to the award fund, please send a check to National Communication Association, c/o Chief Financial Officer, 1765 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. The check should be made out to National Communication Association. Please include a note on your check’s memo line indicating that the gift should be directed to the Orlando L. Taylor Award Fund. Alternatively, credit card donations can be made by calling Kim Griffin, NCA’s Chief Financial Officer, at 202-534-1102. Because this fund will be supported by many donors, the Trustee for the award will be the NCA Awards Trustee Committee. NCA extends its thanks to the Black Caucus and the African American Communication and Culture Division for developing this award.
In recent years, NCA has begun to increase its grant-making activity, most notably through the Advancing the Discipline Grants Program, and through others as well. In light of this activity, a question was raised about whether people in the association’s leadership should be ineligible for such grants, and the EC was in unanimous agreement that indeed such ineligibility criteria should be developed. In order to identify a logical threshold defining “leadership” for the purposes of this policy, the EC turned to the Form 990, which provides guidance on what is considered best practice in nonprofit governance. Based on the relevant 990 question, the EC approved the following new policy: “Officers, directors, trustees, key employees, substantial contributors or employees thereof, and grant selection committee members are not eligible to apply for grants from NCA.” For NCA, “officers, directors, and trustees” translates into the members of NCA’s Legislative Assembly and its Executive Committee.
The EC also did some preliminary planning work for the next round of budget preparation. Specifically, several programmatic funding priorities were considered. With enthusiasm, the EC voted to extend funding for the NCA Institute for Faculty Development (the Hope Conference) for another three years, and to increase the association’s support for the 2017 and 2019 NCA/AFA Summer Conferences on Argumentation (Alta Conferences). The EC also committed to significantly increasing the association’s support for the NCA Caucus Student Travel Grants for the NCA Annual Convention for the next three years.
The EC considered and acted upon several requests from the Feminist and Women’s Studies Division (FWSD) and the Women’s Caucus (WC). First, the FWSD/WC indicated that each year, they want to ensure that the Association ensures appropriate access to our convention facilities for people with disabilities. To clarify the association’s commitment to such access, the EC voted to codify NCA’s current practice. Specifically, the EC approved the following formal policy: NCA will meet only in hotels and convention centers that are ADA compliant. In addition, each year the Disabilities Issues Caucus will continue to be invited to send a representative on a site visit with NCA staff to assess whether there are additional accommodations that can be made to ensure maximum accessibility. Second, the FWSD/WC expressed the importance of providing an all gender bathroom at the convention. Again, the EC agreed and voted to codify the association’s current practice. Specifically, the EC approved the following formal policy: NCA will designate an all gender bathroom at the Annual Convention. Finally, FWSD/WC requested a convention lactation room, which would include a sink and comfortable seating. To the best of our knowledge, NCA has not offered this resource in the past, but the EC was amenable to the idea. This would typically require that the association rent a hotel room (though some convention properties may provide an alternative), and the cost would vary from location to location. One of the questions the EC had regarded how many women would choose to use the space. Thus, the EC voted to provide a lactation room for the next two years, in Las Vegas and Philadelphia, as an experiment. At the end of the two-year period, the EC will assess usage and determine whether to continue offering this resource.
One of the highlights of the retreat was a discussion with Dr. Bro Adams, the new Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). As NEH prepares to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, Dr. Adams talked about the history of the Endowment and its important contributions to society over time. In that context, he introduced his Chairman’s Initiative, The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square. The formal announcement of this initiative states that “[t]hrough NEH’s traditional grant-making programs and several special initiatives, The Common Good will encourage humanities scholars to turn their attention to topics that have widespread resonance with the American people and that lend themselves to the methods and concerns of the humanities.” Dr. Adams expressed great enthusiasm about Communication scholarship and the alignment of much of our work with the goals of this initiative. He urged the association’s leaders to encourage all NCA members who are doing humanistic scholarship to seriously consider submitting proposals.