From the Executive Director: A Time for Growth

September 26, 2023


Welcome back to the 2023-24 academic year. Even though summer is winding down, it’s a time for growth at the NCA National Office. We have welcomed a new communications manager, several new office assistants, and are hard at work on our search for a Chief Diversity Officer. There’s an energy inside our little brownstone just off Dupont Circle that is helping carry us to the busiest time of the year.

Speaking of which, the Annual Convention program is now live on NCA Convention Central. The online program is searchable by session or paper title, sponsor, keyword, and participant, and is also viewable in a daily grid format. A printable version of the program will be posted online in October and the printed program book will be available on-site. We’re all very excited to welcome you to National Harbor in November, and we can’t wait to reconnect and listen to what you all have to share.

Task Force on Academic Freedom and Tenure in Higher Education in the U.S.

Submissions for this vital task force are open until October 2. We will keep you updated on the group’s progress as it begins in October and concludes in August 2024. Members of the task force will review recent and developing state legislation, develop strategies for supporting NCA members who are especially vulnerable because of national or state legislation, and propose strategies for improved communication with NCA members about current and ongoing attacks on academic freedom, as well as related strategies for resistance and advocacy. When the Task Force concludes, it is expected to provide a report that includes a summary of meetings, information gathered, and detailed recommendations for adoption by NCA.

Membership Survey and Task Force 

Recently, we disseminated our second membership survey, and we are outpacing last year's responses rate at this time. Our focus this year is on:   

  • Experiences and value of NCA membership overall 

  • Perceptions and experiences related to inclusion/accessibility 

  • Importance of NCA membership to professional development 

  • Knowledge of, and reactions to, the strategic plan 

  • Experiences and value of affiliations with divisions, sections, and caucuses. 

In addition, the National Office is recruiting members for a new Membership Task Force. The Task Force will assess, recommend, and advise the National Office on issues related to NCA membership recruitment and retention activities and supporting NCA in all membership efforts outlined in the strategic plan.  

Your survey responses will inform the task force’s work. Please respond early and encourage your colleagues to do so also. 

President Afifi addressed 5th Anniversary Convening of the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM (including medicine).  

On September 18-19, 2023, the Consortium held its 5th year Anniversary Annual Convening American Geophysical Union (AGU) in a hybrid format with an in-person reception.  The major themes of this year’s convening include how societies, journals, institutions, philanthropy, government, and business can take individual and collective action to defang the diversity and equity backlash wave—stemming its spread and diminishing its impact on the higher education and research ecosystem. The meeting also addressed confident and committed leadership to continue meaningful DEI action in the aftermath of the recent SCOTUS decisions. And we focused on the importance of cultivating diverse and inclusive leadership among students and early career professionals, as well as pivoting from principles to policy to meaningful action on the journey to equity in STEMM. President Afifi was a panelist on the closing plenary session. 

Launched in 2019, the Consortium represents a unique and sustained leadership community of well over 100 STEMM societies in a wide range of fields that are committed to a shared mission of advancing professional, ethical, inclusive, and equitable conduct, climate, and culture in their own operations and in the fields. The Consortium’s particular focus is on women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and those who have racial and other intersecting identities targeted for bias. Driving our work is the belief that climates and cultures where all talent is welcome and can thrive are essential for excellence, innovation, and integrity in the fields. I am pleased to serve as vice chair-elect of the Consortium's executive committee. 

This Month’s SPECTRA

This month’s edition of SPECTRA takes a closer look at efforts and changes in three levels of education: primary; secondary; and post-secondary.

Our article on Michael G. Strawser details his efforts to assist K-12 educational initiatives after securing funding from NCA.

Our interview with Bryan Crable, the Founding Dean of the College of Human Development, Culture, and Media at Seton Hall University, highlights one scholar’s journey to engage the problems of our social world through communication.

Our recap of NCA’s 2021-22 Academic Job Listings in Communication Report demonstrates that the job market remains optimistic, especially when compared to other disciplines.

I hope you enjoy this issue of SPECTRA, and I look forward to you joining me right back here in October.

Until then,