As my year as President of the POD Network is coming to an end, I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed nor could I have imagined many of the events of this year. As we were heading into the conference season, I worked on my president’s address thinking about what was reported as the probable election of the first woman president of the United States of America. I was writing a speech in which I was planning to ask everyone to maintain their vigilance and continue working to ensure that we create an inclusive and just society. To remind myself and others that the election represented exceptionalism rather than a lack of work to be done. As those of you who were at the conference know, I instead gave a speech to asking that, since election results had indicated that overt intolerance, xenophobia, and misogyny had not been disqualifiers in the presidential election, we redouble our efforts. Many of us left the conference with a renewed commitment to ensuring that the work that we do as individuals, and as a professional organization, remain clearly committed to our values of inclusion, diverse perspectives, advocacy for social justice, and distributed leadership. Our recent call for proposals for special projects is an example of how we are making this commitment concrete.
In my spring newsletter article, I mentioned a few things that were occurring in the POD Network at that time. Since then, we have made significant progress. The External Partnerships and Outreach Committee is now fully formed. As a result, we are not only responding to requests for partnerships, but I have begun to think about how we initiate partnerships that have the closest fit with the POD Network's mission and vision. I also wrote about the importance of the work and leadership of our members to the success of our almost completely volunteer organization. This became a theme throughout the year as I, and others currently in leadership roles in the POD Network, made a concerted effort to invite you to become more involved in our organization. This bore fruit in a number of ways. The number of self-nominations for the Core Committee was higher than it has been in a number of years. The Executive Committee was very pleased with the number and quality of self-nominations and we heard from other members that they too had noticed this development. In addition, new people are stepping up to join or take new leadership roles in committees and SIGs; the Core Committee approved a petition for the formation of the Mindfulness & Contemplative Pedagogy SIG in January 2017. I encourage those of you who thought about self-nominating for the Core Committee or who are considering other ways to increase your involvement in the POD Network to turn those thoughts into action.
We have also made changes to our organizational structure. At the Fall 2015 Core meeting, an ad hoc committee was tasked with examining our organizational structure with an eye toward streamlining, consistency in categorization, and elimination of redundancy. Members included Kevin Barry (Chair), Victoria Bhavsar, Donna Ellis, Fran Glazer, Hoag Holmgren, Cassandra Horii, Katie Kearns, Deandra Little, and Michael Reder. After more than a year of effort, the committee recommended that the POD Network have three types of organizational groups: Administrative Committees, Operational Committees, and Special Interest Groups (SIGs). This allowed us to discuss the characteristics of those three designations and to recommend the assignment as:
I will end this message by expressing my sincere thanks to the colleagues with whom I have had the privilege of working during this year. I especially thank those on the Executive Committee and Core Committee. Your professionalism and commitment to the POD Network and the field of Educational Development has been instrumental in moving our work forward and inspirational to me.
-- Kevin Barry
Kevin Barry directs the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning and is a fellow of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. A member of POD Network since 2000, he served on the Core Committee from 2010 to 1012 and is currently POD Network President. He was co-program chair of the 2008 conference and co-chair of the 2009 conference.