By Stephanie Szczepanski
Saint Louis University
I know it sounds cheesy but my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I think it’s because it’s right after the craziness that we all experience in the fall. Sometimes it’s our first time to catch our breath, stop, and reflect on all that we are thankful for throughout the year. This year, I was thankful for many things but one that stood out was serving IACAC as your chief delegate. In my third year as a delegate, I am always impressed with the work ethic and professionalism of the delegate team. Our delegate team worked hard all summer putting together motions to submit at Assembly this fall. I can tell you they are truly the movers and shakers at the national conference, and it was an honor to serve with them.
The NACAC Conference in Columbus was a great experience for all of the delegates, and IACAC was well represented! The delegates arrived on Tuesday to meet as a group to discuss our objectives. The group prepared to interview the candidates running for board positions and discussed hot topics and motions that would be presented at the general assembly meeting. On Wednesday, we got straight to work with the assembly preview and meet and greet sessions. This meeting allowed us to discuss the assembly agenda and also clarify any motions. We found out that NACAC cleaned up the terminology for admission plans in the Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP) based on one of our motions from last year. We kept up the momentum and put forth two motions this year.
Our first motion recommended that the NACAC Board of Directors review the SPGP for postsecondary institutions regarding the packaging of Parent Plus loans in a student’s financial aid package. We recommend that NACAC work with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and institutions’ senior administrators and financial aid offices to end this practice.
Our second motion, recommended that the NACAC Board of Directors provide secondary and postsecondary institutions as well as counseling professionals with a comprehensive timeline that encompasses the admission cycle from the opening of the application process through May 1. IACAC was the only affiliate to bring forward any motions this year. After the assembly preview, we had the opportunity to interview with the board candidates-elect. They commented on how they knew Illinois would have great questions for them.
On Thursday we held our IACAC membership meeting which allowed IACAC members to hear updates from the IACAC Executive Board, including the Treasurer report, the Membership report, the Chief Delegate report, the President-Elect report, the Past-President report, and the President report. The meeting lasted just over an hour and was so compelling that a few individuals from outside our organization joined us to hear about important IACAC issues.
On Saturday, the Assembly started at 7:30 a.m. and featured the elections of new board members and presentations promoting new motions. Delegates discussed and voted on new motions that were brought forward to the SPGP. The motions we submitted sparked a lengthy but great discussion. The motions were approved which means the Board of Directors will look into both of our requests. Our motions created great discussion and even prompted an article by Inside Higher Ed regarding the financial aid motion.
If you have not attended an assembly meeting in the past, you should absolutely go as a spectator in the general seating area. This gathering has been one of the most influential experiences for my career since I entered the profession 15 years ago. It allows attendees to see a macro view of the process that governs secondary and postsecondary institutions.
The Annual Membership Meeting is the final conference event Saturday afternoon. At this meeting, all attendees get the election results and an overview of the discussions from the Assembly Meeting. Time is set aside for the installation of the new president-elect and the new additions to the board of directors. Awards were presented and there was an open forum before the passing of the presidential gavel and adjournment. It was a wonderful way to end the conference!
The NACAC conference is always a highlight of my year. I am truly grateful to be able to attend and to serve in this role within IACAC. I would encourage all of you to step outside of your comfort zone and nominate yourself or someone you know for a position on the IACAC board. You will not regret the opportunity to work with people so passionate about making a positive impact on our profession.