Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Evolution of AASE and a New Era of Possibilities

Below is another post celebrating 10 years of AASE, by Jamie Kleppetsch

Boy has AASE evolved over the last ten years!  I remember being so excited for the first AASE conference—luckily, what happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas.

AASE’s founders and early members knew they wanted AASE to host an annual national conference that would give all academic support educators (no matter how new) the opportunity to learn from each other and to provide members opportunities to share their expertise and innovations on a national stage.  This was especially important, given that we knew how hard it was to be selected to present at AALS and other conferences. Little did we know just how many wonderful ideas would flood into our proposals box—so many for each conference that we started combining similarly themed ideas into the same time slot.  This allowed all members an opportunity either to present original ideas or to collaborate with each other to create a whole new presentation.

We also knew we had to find a way to make it easier for attendees to find presentations on areas they wanted to learn more about. We created program tracks based on the broadest concepts the presentations fit into—like professional development, bar exam support, academic skills, etc.  But one area of programming stood out and we recognized early the need for a separate conference to better explore and develop its themes–diversity.  

In 2015, a by-law change added the position of Vice President of Diversity, and by the end of the 2016 national conference, the wheels were set in motion to host the first diversity conference. This conference was the first of many to focus scholarship, training, and support programming on issues affecting students of color and students from other groups historically underrepresented in the profession.  These conferences have focused on helping our students and colleagues successfully navigate law school, licensure, and diversifying legal education.

Leadership has always been a strong theme at AASE.  Over the years, we expanded positions on the executive board to provide consistency and continuity for our organization as people transitioned on and off the board each year. It also gave more colleagues the opportunity to hold national leadership positions. From the beginning—and knowing we needed everyone to pitch in to keep our organization growing and strong—we asked everyone to participate on at least one committee. Our members have been amazing at leading and serving these past ten years.

That amazing leadership has established AASE as a formidable organization of legal education advocators and given our voice great weight. We began our journey of advocacy with our own members and their struggle for status and recognition in their own institutions and as a discipline in legal education. We held programs on how to negotiate for better status in our institutions and shared our struggles and triumphs. We started the “Tip Your Dean” movement where members send notes to the deans of colleagues regarding their outstanding presentations, leadership, scholarship, advocacy, etc. to let deans know the amazing work performed by the academic support educator in their own school. We started advocacy on behalf of our students with organizations like the National Conference of Bar Examiners to open dialogue about the need for transparency and change in the bar exam. That advocacy has made it possible for the Q and A session with the National Conference of Bar Examiners at the AASE Conference in Santa Clara later this month.

We have done a lot in our short life, but we still have work to do. In fact, there is one item left undone from our early task list. Since 2015, we have been trying to create our own journal. We have had discussions with some schools to host it, but we are still looking for a home and a crew of talented academic support educators to run it. I am hopeful this dream will be realized before our next big anniversary.

I am honored to have been a member since the beginning of this organization and someone to shepherd her through her toddler stages. I look forward to the next decade of AASE and beyond. We showed you our vision and set it in motion. Are you ready to take up the mantle and show us yours?

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