A History of the SRCEA by Nancy Griffin Mims, Ed.D.
SRCEA is the only regional organization for professors in Educational Administration. It is comprised of 14 states from Virginia in the northeast, to Missouri in the northwest, to Texas in the southwest, and to Florida in the southeast. School principals, superintendents and doctoral students are invited to attend for they are the ones who study or who have studied at universities under Educational Administration. They collaborate in research and they hold the future.
SRCEA papers were refereed and standards were quite high, not all papers were accepted, yet professors came for the collegial atmosphere and to hear the latest research in Educational administration. Completed papers had to be submitted to the assigned discussant two weeks before the conference. This practice was eliminated about 1992 and more papers, about 90% were accepted. In addition, the percentage of females in attendance until 1994 was less than 20%.The networking offered through SRCEA was beneficial and insured friendship with colleagues who may move from one institution to another within the SRCEA area. For newly minted professors, the board members were held in high esteem. In order for one to be considered for the board, one had to have presented at least three times, be seen at the conferences and be willing to work. Potential board members were discussed regarding the quality of their work presented as well as their support at past conferences.This was done to insure the continuation of role-models for future academicians.Before the late 90’s meetings were held From Thursday to Saturday. The big general meeting was always held first thing on Thursday morning. The weekend dates came later because of more students attending, the fact that most Education Administration Professors didn’t teach on Friday, and airfare was cheaper with a Saturday night stay. If spouses and families came, the weekend gave them an opportunity for a weekend family outing. The board always went out for dinner together before opening night since they came a day earlier to get things set up. The first night for the general meeting was done so we could manage socialization. A sign-up sheet was posted on the main bulletin board for 3-4 restaurants- each headed by a board member or two who led the group and gave everyone a chance to meet and to learn more about the organization. The next morning the immediate past chair always the hosted the past chairs’ breakfast. The chair elect or volunteer was the host for new members’ breakfast. The term “Chair” was used for the chief executive officer of SRCEA until 2007, when the Board and membership voted a change in the By-Laws to the name of the chief officer to “President”. President is a more recognizable word used to reflect the actual duties of this position.
Board members’ duties:Treasurer, Secretary and Historian were elected by written ballot at a general meeting; the officers consisted of sec/treasurer, a corresponding secretary, historian, (each elected for 4 years), the chair- and future chairs, immediate past chair and a retired member. The newest future chair was recommended and announced at the general meeting. It was decided in 1996 by vote of the members present, that here would no longer be Sec/treasurer- but a Treasurer and Secretary who would also be corresponding secretary. This was done because it gave the secretary more to do than take minutes at the meeting. This was also pre-computer days so a bi-annual newsletter was sent by mail to every university department head as well as individual members. While Annie Henry was secretary in the mid 1990s, she developed an electronic data-base of all members, so SRCEA had, in connection with both NCPEA and UCEA, a broader membership list. The cost for postage, paper and printing often ran upwards of $200.00 per mailing. When Mike Richardson was chair elect, he had support from GA Southern for printing and mailing, The U of West GA helped with bulk mailing bringing the costs down. Registration (called that because universities would reimburse registration, but not dues) was only $5.00. Increasing this to $8.00 and $10.00 was an agonizing issue.
The past historians: George Michaels, Ivan Bearden and John Goodan collected hard material: papers for ERIC and programs. There were few pictures taken before 1995. John Goodan suggested an e-version. Obtaining electronic materials is harder because there are fewer full papers. Presenters come with an abbreviated paper and within the last five years-Power Point presentations. Prior to 2000, overheads were the primary means of presentation. Beginning in 1994, Bill Bozeman, SRECA chair in 1994-1995, provided all presenters with the technology to use PowerPoint presentations, and most chairs since that time have followed suit.
Paula Short and Mike Richardson held the first sessions on writing. This was a seminar for new professors who were entering the “publish or perish” domain. Mike turned the writing workshop over to Nancy Mims, and Sandra Gupton has held the workshop since Atlanta, 2005. The referred publication was not all SRCEA. It was a quarterly Journal on Education Leadership. At the present time, SRCEA has a referred yearbook which is (thanks to Fran Kochan, and the Truman-Pierce Institute) published at Auburn University. When Fran left the board as secretary for UCEA leadership, Cindy Reed became the new Secretary and coincidently the Director of Institute. As the editor of the yearbook, Cindy added a deeper dimension by recruiting an editorial board from SRCEA.The first publication was during Mike Richardson’s year as chair.
In the past it was not unusual to have well over 150 people in attendance- not counting the doctoral students. They were there, not as paying participants, but rather served as “gophers” for the board. Jacksonville, 2001, was both good and bad. It came on the heels of 9/11 so some members cancelled. That was also the first year to have a luncheon with a speaker. This was done in order to bring people together for informal discussions and to meet new members. Tom Valesky also had support from other state universities to cover the cost of the evening get-together. In the past, only the host university covered the cost. In NC, Jim Lyons was the first chair to begin the tradition of asking other state institutions for a specific amount to help with the cost. He also was the first chair to actively promote doctoral students and offer support to them. The following year the conference was held in TN. Thanks to Frank, the U of TN system paid ALL the bills so SRCEA was becoming solvent. Although most program chairs and Presidents of SRCEA helped fund the annual conference mostly through their department and college budgets or foundation accounts, beginning at the 1998 conference in Savannah Georgia, Jim Lyons recruited eight North Carolina universities to help fund the conference to keep the cost of registration low (under Donn Gresso, President). This continued with these same universities contributing in 1999 (Jim Lyons President and Mike Richardson Program Chair). In 2000, Don Embry, Department Chair at Middle Tennessee State provided approximately $8000 to SRCEA to help stabilize the budget and increase the foundation account. The following year, under Ric Keaster’s presidency and Tom Valesky as Program Chair, nine Florida universities contributed to a successful conference, followed by Missouri universities under (Jim Machell Program Chair and Tom Valesky President). Larry McNeal was president when we met in Little Rock. Attendance was minimal and the board believed the difficulty of access was the issue along with reduced funding at many universities. Then in 2004, the conference moved back to North Carolina with 11 universities contributing to the conference when Lynn Bradshaw was President. 2005 we met in Atlanta. This conference almost did not take place because no one on the board came forth with a meeting place. Russell Mays was program chair and president elect. Nancy Mims was treasurer and she secured the Marriot at the airport at the last possible minute thanks to a cancellation of another group. In essence SRCEA returned to its roots.
SRCEA account:In the fall of 1996 there was a single check book. Once the bills were paid, there was a balance close to 200.00 and two $1000.00 CD’s. The following year Bob Blackman pushed for an endowment fund. The membership voted to name it after Bob. Up until Lynn Bradshaw’s term, it was more or less expected that the board members would donate $50-100.00 a year to the treasury. We did for several years, because according to Frank, it was based on a bet. It was also not unusual for retired board members to send a check for $100.00. This money paid stipends of $250-$500.00 for the main guest speaker. If we had an extra room due to early registration- the speaker received the room and a lesser stipend. SRCEA board recommended investing in mutual funds- some loss occurred after 9/11, but there was a rather large amount in the fund which the board thought could be used to help pay for a speaker of note- or to offset the reduced costs of doc students’ registrations. It was not to pay for students, but to serve as a cushion. The first book auction to increase the fund was held during Patsy’s year. Frank Markus was the auctioneer who made it fun, competitive and entertaining. The first auction brought a profit of $300.00. This practice, however, has lost momentum because of the cost and logistics of transporting books so far away from the FL/GA area. The auctions have switched to other items, not books, such as tee shirts, hand knitted dolls, fishing trips, and many other donated items that have been quite popular and have also brought in good money for the organizations.
By-laws: Since SRCEA had more money the board and treasurer began a formal audit in NC. The audit was then incorporated into the by-laws which were done and redone during Tom’s, Ric’s, Mike’s and Don’s years. It took three to four years to write and plan by-laws that were acceptable to the general membership. They were sent with the newsletters and a special vote was taken at the general meeting. Tom gave the board members a rubric for their duties and a time line to complete then before the conference.
Banner and Awards
During Don Gresso’s year, two other organizations held conferences at the same time. They had banners so no one knew who we were. It was proposed at the board meeting that a banner made. The current one is a duplicate that was made to replace the original which was lost during transit.
Jack Greer Lifetime Contribution Award
Jack Greer was a professor at GA State for over 25 years. He was the glue that stabilized SRCEA in the early years. SRCEA had its beginnings in Atlanta and moved primarily between Florida and GA. The organization didn’t meet in the fanciest hotels, never-the-less, the fellowship was important as well as learning and collaborating on research. Many of the states had and perhaps still have a state organization for professors of Ed Leadership. Their association strengthened the state caucuses that were held at lunch time. Jack was extremely active in several professional organizations; he served as a mentor to many of the past members, co-authored leadership texts and articles with more than just a few members. Because of his love for SRCEA, his mentoring of others, his vast research in our field, and his ability to keep the early organization together, Mike Richard and others proposed a Jack Greer Lifetime Contribution Award to honor him and others who gave so much to SRCEA and their profession. He was the first recipient. Unfortunately Jack was not well and he passed away a few months after that presentation. The emotion was high and many tears were shed when he was presented with his plaque. The future recipients were to be chosen by a committee appointed by the chair consisting of past chairs and recipients. In the past, the board members didn’t know who was to get the award; it was not spoken of during any meeting so it was a surprise for everyone except the 3-4 committee members. The treasurer was presented with a bill to send to the engraver, but no name was on the bill. The committee checked with relatives to make sure the person would be in attendance. It was presented at the opening of the general meeting so the person could be honored during the whole session. Those receiving the award hold it in high regard.
Other Activities, Conferences and Networking
Involvement with SRCEA over the past years has helped shape careers, ethics, and improve research. The networking and opportunities to publish and present with colleagues has been a highlight. Presentations with colleagues at other conferences include some of the following: Women in Administration, NCPEA, AERA, EERA, and UCEA. Some members, Cindy Reed, Larry McNeal and Nancy Mims usually took the same flights out and back twice a year. During the wait time they wrote papers together-collaborating on substantial research which they presented at UCEA. Several of the members held offices in each of those organizations as well. The networking still continues. For example, there is a new referred journal on Educational Leadership, published by Mercer University. The first issue was out in March (08) and the editor is a past chair of SRCEA.