In the Spring of 2020, the NASSM Blog will be highlighting different individuals with NASSM leadership roles. We hope you enjoy getting to know them and learning more about NASSM. This week, we asked the co-chairs of the Diversity Committee to answer some questions about their role: (Note: These interviews were conducted in early February.)
Current faculty position: Trevor Bopp (Co-Chair), Assistant Professor, Department of Sport Management, University of Florida & Drew Pickett (Co-Chair), Assistant Professor, Division of Kinesiology & Sport Management, University of South Dakota
How long have you been at this institution? Bopp: I am in my 9th year & Pickett: I am in my 4th year.
Where are you from? Bopp: Alexandria, VA & Pickett: Tampa, FL
What are the primary responsibilities of the Diversity Committee (DC)? The Diversity Committee is charged with advising the Executive Council on all things related to equity and inclusion in NASSM. For example, this year we’ve undertaken a full review of the NASSM Constitution and Operating Codes, looking for potential areas of improvement to help the organization become more inclusive. During the annual conference, we host the Diversity Breakfast event, which aims to welcome attendees from all walks of life and help make connections with others. We also hold a workshop at the conference related to some aspect of diversity and inclusion. For example, last year the DC held a session on the unique needs of NASSM members from teaching institutions. From these sessions, we hope to gain feedback from members that can help us in our advisory role to the organization. As a shameless plug, this year we will host a session on Barriers to diversity and inclusion in NASSM leadership. In this session, we will explore obstacles faced by underrepresented groups in becoming part of the NASSM leadership. Through these and other activities, the DC is committed to serving as a liaison between members and the EC on all diversity-related issues.
What made you want to get involved with NASSM? Bopp: I thought it would be a good way to connect with scholars with similar interests. Additionally, I wanted to be a part of helping advance NASSM in this space. It also serves as an annual reunion with friends and academic acquaintances. Pickett: I joined NASSM as a graduate student and have been a member ever since. As such, I consider NASSM my ‘conference home’ and I wanted to have a say in its future. My research work focuses on diversity and inclusion, so applying to join the DC seemed a natural fit.
How do you hope to contribute to NASSM through serving? Obviously, as a committee, our goal is see a more inclusive, equitable organization. This means constantly seeking input from a variety of organizational stakeholders and working with the EC to address members’ concerns and meet their needs.
What do you think are the biggest challenges NASSM faces? This year, the DC has honed in on two primary areas of concern, both of which are important for the continued growth of the organization.
First, we have a race problem at NASSM. In its history, NASSM has had very few people of color among its leadership ranks. Not surprisingly, at the most recent conference, concerns were raised about the under-representation of people of color and racial inclusivity of NASSM in comparison to other conferences in our field. As an organization, we must address the lack of racial diversity in leadership and better engage with scholars of color to make NASSM their “home conference”.
Secondly, we must also work to better address the needs of NASSM members at teaching-intensive institutions. As we have grown as a research organization, we have seen declining membership from pedagogically-focused institutions. In the most recent Climate Survey, one common theme suggested NASSM is failing to provide adequate value and meet the needs of individuals from teaching intensive schools. New ideas and initiatives to drive value for these individuals, such as an expanded Teaching & Learning Fair, are needed to (re)engage this group.
Addressing the needs of NASSM’s many varied stakeholder groups is vital for our continued growth and success as an organization. NASSM relies on conference attendance and professional membership as primary revenue sources. Therefore, to continue to be successful, we must continue to look for ways to reduce barriers to entry and better represent all of our members.
Dream NASSM destination: Bopp: As long as I have funding, I will go anywhere. Pickett: I’m from Florida and live in South Dakota (often still below freezing in May/ June), so anywhere warmer works for me!