This is a difficult President’s Corner to write. First, I fully expected to now be past-president. Second, it can be difficult to explain a complex issue in just a few paragraphs. I do, however, know it’s important to add some context to the message sent out from the Board of Directors on Friday. Our discussion began around a recognition that it didn’t make sense to move forward like everything was normal while the world around us was pausing. However, I can say without a doubt that if by some chance the abnormal social functions remain or return, there would be no effort to allow this freeze to go beyond the current year.
I want to note that I did not initiate the action to freeze Board positions and pause elections for one year. The suggestion to do so came from the Executive Committee and was supported by the Executive Director. When asked if I would be willing to continue to serve, I said I would. The Executive Committee discussed the advantages and disadvantages to the organization and deliberated at length about whether or not the action was necessary. As we prepared for the full Board discussion and vote, we made sure our procedures complied with the association’s bylaws and rules of order. The motion was formally presented in our spring Board meeting on April 28, and after a thoughtful period of discussion, was passed by a unanimous vote of approval. This action preserves the outcomes of the fall Board elections and is not intended to affect other association leaders elected or appointed prior to or after the spring Board meeting such as the new Festival and Convention Program chairs, journal editors, or Interest Division representatives.
Why freeze? In simple terms, business as usual is not happening now and won’t likely happen soon. We don’t know what the challenges will be to our campus’ financial situations and related travel funding. While we hope BEA On-Location in Atlanta will take place as a physical face-to-face conference this year, we can’t be certain it won’t have the same fate as BEA2020. It will take time before we know the full impact of the pandemic on the economy and the constraints imposed on future events. We heard a chilling report to the board in our meeting about how dire the economic situation is for the media industry and NAB. Of course all this means there are financial challenges for BEA as well.
We have already received some notes of support since the announcement was sent out, and no doubt, there will be some who question the action. Anyone who has done any form of professional volunteer work knows when your time is up you’re usually ready to move on. However, we feel this decision to keep the continuity is best for BEA and the well-being of our small and dedicated staff.
Finally, I will note that sometimes there are activities going on that cannot be fully addressed until official action is taken, but I feel confident our discussions on the board are always with a desire to be fully transparent to the membership about how we do business. We really have such a great organization, with a culture of friendliness built as the foundation of our professional engagement. I was happy to hear so many great comments about #BEAVirtualVegas, and I hope each of you will re-energize your support for our organization to help us through the coming year. The next year will no doubt pose unexpected challenges and it is only by each of us continuing to be active members that we can survive and grow.
The Executive Committee has done more frequent regular meetings this year than I suspect it has ever done. The technology has allowed it, and the needs of the organization have dictated it. It led us to do a really good virtual convention, and we learned from #BEAVirtualVegas that BEA can start offering regular online programs. So, I’ll end by reminding you to watch for announcements soon for some summer activities. Stay safe and stay engaged with us as we move forward.