Wednesday, February 15, 2023

AASE Beginnings


To honor AASE's 10th Anniversary, we want to host some guest blogs about the founding and history of AASE. It seemed only fitting that the first guest blog would go to AASE's very first president, Jennifer Carr!

It was after an LSAC-hosted conference that we first started kicking around the idea of starting our own professional organization.  The whole idea was pretty daunting but when someone said that LSAC likely would stop hosting conferences sometime soon, that (plus a few drinks) encouraged us to dream big.  What if it was a place to present?  What if it was a place where we could be mentored, so that we became better presenters?  What about publications?  Could we have some sort of publication someday?  Oh!  We need an advocacy arm—folks to interface with the National Conference of Bar Examiners, to ask questions and advocate and learn from.  Wait!  What about state bar examiners?  Should we interact with them too?  And what about advocacy with our faculty and our status?  Out of this brainstorming meeting came a plan to have a conference call soon.

Our first order of business was to come up with a name for ourselves.  We knew we wanted something about academic and support.  But what else?  Not all of us have the professor title.  What about professionals?  Well, that didn’t sound quite right.  Professionals…of what type?  We settled on “educators” because we were all educating, in some way or another.  And then were we an organization?  Association?  Ultimately, we decided on the now-familiar Association of Academic Support Educators, AASE for short.  We pronounced it “Ace” and I think a lot of people were thinking of those top pilots from World War I.  Maybe we imagined ourselves advocating for our students, dogfighting for them the way the flying aces did back in the day.  I, however, born and raised in Vegas, was thinking of playing cards and the image of the ace as the top or best card.  And I wanted our organization to be the best of its kind.  (This didn’t stop folks from switching the letters around and asking if we’d really named ourselves “Ass-E”.)

The next year was filled with conference calls as we pulled in more ASP’ers and our ideas and plans grew over time.  First up was our conference.  I went to my boss, Dean Nancy Rapoport, who agreed we could host a conference.  We kicked around ideas of things we’d seen at other conferences to get ideas about how we’d like our conference to look.  We talked to various vendors to set up a venders area.  We put together little goodie bags.  We agreed we wanted some times together (plenaries) and some sessions for new ASPers specifically, along with some for more seasoned ASPers, so we had tracks.  But we also wanted community building activities, since we all agreed that some of the most useful parts of conferences past had been the connections we made and the chance to ask a quick question.  We hoped to make the conference a yearly thing.

And when the conference was over, we didn’t want our work to end.  We wanted to continue with a salary and title survey, so we could get a sense of positions, titles, and pay across the nation.  What about a website with a repository of ASP resources?   We were partly borrowing from other similar organizations (What was LWI doing?) but we were also unfettered by previous traditions and willing to try just about anything. 

Over time, I’ve watched as this organization that was thrown together with a willingness to try things, see if they’d fly or fail, comprised mostly of hopes and dreams, has grown to—and beyond—what we’d hoped of it.  And I couldn’t be prouder of it, or us.

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