President’s Report: Show Up, Stand Up, Be Ready
As seasons change, there are opportunities to be engaged, involved, establish new routines and reexamine ourselves. These seasons are welcome so that we may adjust our lives or simply regroup, rest, and recuperate. Questions that can be answered on the cusp of new seasons allow us to improve and reprioritize just what is important to us and our families. Some say, “it is just as noble to rest as it is to work,” yet somehow, our time invested in rest is often overshadowed by work.
Academic burnout is a fact of life for some. In many ways, exhaustion has become normalized when rest is really needed. Our families experience it as well as our friends and colleagues. When traditional semester classes are over and summer comes upon you, take the necessary time to refresh and look forward to being the very best you that you can be.
I will admit that I am challenged by my thoughts as our NCFR staff is working diligently — as they always do — to bring us the very best conference experience for fall 2023 in Orlando. My colleagues and I, who were elected to serve you on the NCFR Board of Directors, have been provided with opportunities to put our heads together to develop the best responses to your questions and concerns.
Our decision to keep the conference site in Orlando was a big one. We carefully discussed the pros and cons of in-person attendance for the annual meeting. We are very much aware of the challenges facing the state of Florida, due to harmful and discriminatory policies signed into law. The state has become a center for controversy, conflict, and disagreement.
At this time, the NCFR Board and staff are working on options to facilitate presenters being remote and exploring the feasibility of remote attendance. These efforts are intended to support NCFR members for whom travel to Florida is not possible.
I encourage you, as members of NCFR, to play an active role in our conference this year; this means to plan to attend as many sessions, meetings, and receptions as your schedule allows. Come with an open mind, an expectation and intention to learn and engage in discourse. Greet newcomers and make them feel welcome. Spread the word! Invite and bring along as many of your colleagues or students as you can. And if you are able to travel to Florida, please do so.
Hundreds of your colleagues live and work in Florida or in neighboring southeastern U.S. states. For many, this might be their only opportunity to present their work, network with others, and immerse themselves in all the great things an NCFR conference offers at an in-person experience; this is especially true for students! Your presence in Orlando is valuable and appreciated by them.
I know that our membership cares deeply about policies that affect families and academic subject matter in states across the nation, including Florida. There are grave concerns about individual freedoms being taken away and curricula being censored. The question for many is, how does NCFR reconcile having its conference site in a place that may be under siege in these ways?
I think our nation of laws, statutes, and customs expects us to face these challenges with courage and dignity. Do we allow others to make the rules that govern our lives and make decisions on our behalf? Somehow, I think not. I have my own reservations about being in Florida. However, given my historical background, I cannot afford to not show up, stand up, and be ready. People have gone before me and have done the same, effecting change.
What would have happened if people had not taken a stand during the Civil Rights era and demanded their equal right to ride at the front of the bus, eat at restaurants, and receive lodging at hotels? Simply imagine (or remember) when laws were passed in the 1960s and certain groups could not do certain things. Because we have not learned from our history, I fear we are destined to repeat it.
Moving forward is important and I truly hope that you will join me in supporting our colleagues and families in Florida in whatever way you can. My very best to you this summer and I hope to see you at this year’s conference, in-person or online.
Norma Burgess, Ph.D.