STATES DISTANCE LEARNING ASSOCIATION
July 1, 1998-June 30, 1999
an exciting year this has been!
The distance learning and videoconferencing market is growing exponentially. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 spurred that growth through the Universal Service Fund also known as the "E-rate". The e-rate allows a school or library to receive discounts of 20% to 90% on the circuits, line charges, satellite fees, and Internet access used for those education distance learning applications. In addition, many states have launched similar universal service funding initiatives that enhance the federal efforts. Through these combined federal and state opportunities, schools and libraries can purchase the hardware, software, telecom services, internet and satellite services and much, much more. Schools and libraries across the United States look to USDLA and the TeleCon and IDLCon events to provide a forum for discussion of applications, products, equipment, and to participate in a demonstration of the merging technologies. As a result, vendors repeatedly launch their new products at these USDLA/ Advanstar events.
As President Emeritus of the Oklahoma Distance Learning Association, I must look for the value to ODLA of USDLA membership. It's important to remember that USDLA played a key role in the development and passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. As a result of that Act, Oklahoma schools received nearly $60 million dollars over the past two years. In addition, with ODLA support, Oklahoma has funded over $100 million over the past three years for distance learning technology and infrastructure that enhances those federal USF opportunities. USDLA will remain active in industry issues such as copyright and the extension of the Telecom Act beyond 2001, as Congress considers them. The USDLA, teamed with state chapter organizations makes good sense…even dollars and cents!
I want to thank you for attending TeleCon West. This is an exciting time for those of us involved in distance learning. Take advantage of the exhibits, the general sessions, and the breakouts that interest you. In addition, I invite you to let the Board of Directors of USDLA know of your comments and concerns. You may check the website at www.usdla.org to send e-mail, or talk to any board member during the conference. We are committed to USDLA and want to serve you more effectively.
reeting the New Day
Forward thinkers and entrepreneurs are typically among those who cheerfully greet new days with optimism, as a time rich with opportunities and possibilities. The distance learning community is indeed made up of such people - people with vision and insight, who have been able over the past two decades to create a truly significant educational movement that today is impacting all of America and the world.
Now it is time to greet the New Day of USDLA. And what a New Day we have to celebrate!
A year ago, when I assumed the presidency, things were very different from what they are today. In fact, if this is a New Day, that could be called the lullaby stage. Pat Portway, our Founder, was beginning his tenth year as Executive Director, agreements were in place with Advanstar to continue the conferences, publications and operations of the organization, and we were projecting a comfortable annual budget.
But things changed rapidly after that as the lullaby ushered in a nightmare. All of the year's events are noted elsewhere in this Annual Report. Suffice it to say here that Pat tendered his resignation as Executive Director, discussions with Advanstar were launched to re-negotiate our relationship with them, our member database was unusable, and we were nearly broke.
However, now the New Day has arrived. The USDLA Board of Directors rose to the crisis in a way I have rarely seen a board respond - and I have been on lots of boards. Everyone jumped in to help. Special thanks are due to the Transition Team: Ray Steele, John Flores, Jan McMahill, and Michael Baker, all past presidents of the organization called back into active service. John's service as pro bono Executive Director from June through September was indeed one of the most significant boosts the organization received.
Thanks are due also too to the Strategic Planning Team of Inabeth Miller, Chuck Brewer, Bruce Byrne, Arlene Krebs, Don Lake, and Phil Westfall. They helped us envision what our new organization should look like, with new bylaws, new board structure and increased representation by the chapters.
And many others helped also: Marshall Allan volunteered weeks of staff time to reconstruct the data base; Bill Miller provided CPA support; Jolly Holden and Kathleen Leary actively sought the support of new and renewing corporate sponsors; Glenda Mathis provided expert webmaster service to prepare the new USDLA Web site. And the list could go on . . . .
Most of all thanks are due to you, our sponsors and members. We have learned from you that USDLA has earned your respect and that you are staying with us through this transition, confident in the future of the organization and the positive impact it can have on the industry. More than anything, your loyalty has buoyed the board's spirits and inspired their dedication to the hard work they have done.
At the Annual Meeting in 1999 we are indeed ushering in a New Day. With new bylaws, a new board structure, and a new Web site, we are ready to move forward. We have, in BAF Satellite and Technology, our first 21st Century Benefactor and have many other new and renewing corporate and organizational sponsors. We have 2000 renewing individual members and an ever-growing number of chapters.
Indeed there is reason to celebrate as we welcome a New Day of USDLA. Please join us in that celebration.
ear USDLA Member and Sponsor:
As the USDLA enters the next century, we are embarking upon an exciting and challenging era in our professional careers. The USDLA, as a professional organization, is similarly challenged to meet the needs and expectations of not only its members, but the distance learning profession as well. The challenges are many, and as the profession evolves, so does the USDLA. The evolution is continuous, and the USDLA is poised to meet the challenges and demands of our members and the profession they represent as we enter the new millennium.
As the USDLA embarks upon its mission, it would be appropriate to reiterate the goals of the organization that will sustain it and lead it into the next century. They are: To provide national leadership in the field of distance learning; to advocate and promote the use of distance learning; to provide current information on distance learning; to represent the distance learning community before government policy and regulatory bodies; and to serve and support the state, consortium and individual organizations and its members that comprise the USDLA. These goals represent the core of the USDLA, and provides the path by which it's future will be shaped.
These goals are not self-evident…it is incumbent upon the leadership of the USDLA to preserve and sustain their value. As the incoming President, it is imperative for me to focus on these goals and ensure its members benefit from them. The task is simple: Ensure the quality and increase the value for the membership of the USDLA. To that end, I would like to share some of the new initiatives and challenges the USDLA will be addressing the next year. As a profession, we should seek those core competencies by which our profession is defined. The USDLA will attempt to identify and define these core competencies. Additionally, we will undertake an initiative to explore the issue of accrediting and/or certifying distance learning programs available in the marketplace. We will continue to enhance the value of the USDLA web site by initiating a news service, providing more and applicable Internet links and the possible creation of a list serve for its members. As a chapter based professional organization, we will continue to foster and encourage the growth of its members and its affiliate organizations. And we will continue to explore and exploit every opportunity to enhance and promote our profession.
On behalf of the USDLA Board of Directors, I encourage all organizations and members to help us usher in the new year with a better and more responsive organization. The outlook is exciting yet challenging as we collectively build upon the rich history and foundation of the USDLA. I look forward to the many challenges confronting the new USDLA as we embark upon our journey into the next millennium.
First of all -I want to take this opportunity to thank all of USDLA's individual members for their continued support, guiding influence and grass roots commitment to our organization and profession.
Secondly - Thank you to our State Chapter leaders and Chapter members who have remained loyal and active while building and maintaining chapter and association organizations across the country.
And finally - Thank you to our Board of Directors and Executive Committee without whom this association would not function or exist.
FY99 truly has been a tumultuous year for our association and without the collective support of the above-identified groups along with our industry sponsors USDLA would be at an unknown crossroad. Instead as we finish the decade of the nineties and look to the Millennium, USDLA is a vibrant, forward leading, professional organization. We are in a proactive stage of growth, commitment and direction.
This past June, I was appointed by the Board of Directors to the position of Executive Director. Since that time I have endeavored to usher in a new era, creating a new culture that represents openness, accountability and integrity. We truly are a new USDLA and have the opportunity to continue to be the leading voice for distance learning on a global basis. That opportunity will only succeed with your continued support and loyalty.
In return for that support and loyalty, I pledge to all of our USDLA members new direction, new leadership and an association that will promote interdependence among all its individual members, state chapters, and Board of Directors. We will combine our energy and talent to create a greater association.
Together, we will lead our industry by promoting education as a life long learning process, providing people of all ages with the most up to date technologies and strategies to expand their learning horizons.
Knowledge is power and USDLA stands ready to begin the millennium poised with a membership and industry committed and willing to create opportunities, information access and leadership in the development and application of distance learning.
ogether, we are about to finish a most tumultuous century.
We will also enter into Decade II in the life of the most influential distance learning organization in the United States and one of the most respected distance learning organizations (BRANDS) from Europe to Latin America to Asia.
When the USDLA started in late 1988, few could define distance learning, Washington did not recognize it for funding purposes, and only a few of the pioneers were focusing their technologies to serve this fledgling activity.
A short decade later and distance learning is a growth industry, sections of companies focus on it, funding sources both recognize and support it, and it commands planning consideration in education, government, healthcare and the corporate world. The USDLA was there every step of the way promoting, advocating acceptance, and helping people to understand what could be.
That is background and this report is intended to help our members understand what has happened over the past year, a period of very significant and challenging transition for your association.
As you may know, ABC Telecon, owned by Patrick Portway, had provided contracted management services for USDLA (Pat was a USDLA founder and our Executive Director) since the founding of the organization in late 1988.
In April of 1998, Pat sold ABC Telecon and the associated magazines, shows and other interests to Advanstar, one of the larger trade show and publications companies. That began one of the most challenging periods in USDLA history.
Neither the USDLA officers and board, the Advanstar company, nor even Pat had anticipated some of the impact to the association which the sale would bring over the next year. Because so much of the day to day USDLA management activities had been handled in the ABC operations, when a new owner arrived and began to shift ABC personnel, functions and resources, the USDLA was a surprise victim of the change, and it took months before the problems became clear. At about the same time Pat Portway, due to growing health concerns, tendered his resignation, effective June 1, 1999.
A number of normal operations had suffered as you can well imagine and the USDLA board and executive leadership took corrective action at the March, 1999 board meeting in Washington, DC by creating a special transition team to help the board deal with some of the more significant problems. Three past USDLA Presidents and Board Chairs, (Michael Baker 1996-97, Jan McMahill 1994-95, and Ray Steele, (1989-91) were asked to return as the transition team. In addition, John Flores, who was President in 1997, was asked to serve as interim USDLA Executive Director and to work with the transition team to help get USDLA back on its feet.
Shirley Davis, President; Jolly Holden, President Elect; Marshal Allen, Chairman of the Advisory Board; and, Toni Pickle, Chairperson of the Board, comprised the USDLA Executive Committee and they and the transition team began the process of assuring that the Association would both survive the confusion and operations problems created by the sale and move into the 21st Century with a plan for the future.
Six months later, after three board meetings and countless hours of effort by the transition team, the executive committee, individual board members and pro bono accountants and attorneys, as well as Advanstar executives, our editors of Ed at a Distance, and others, we are pleased to report that the USDLA will march into the 21st Century as a renewed organization. It has changed, but for the better in the long term.
What does this mean to the over 2000 members? We will provide a summary here and we invite you to attend the Annual Meeting at 11:00 a.m. on November 2, 1999, at the Anaheim Marriott, in Anaheim, California, in conjunction with the TeleCon West show, where will provide a more complete report and candidly answer all member questions posed. Your association has new bylaws and these are available for review on our web site at www.usdla.org.
An expanded leadership group to better respond to chapters, corporate and education members will go into place with your approval in November.
A responsible budget, with attention to meeting our past obligations as well as our future plans is in place.
A new, Executive Director, Dr. John G. Flores, has been permanently appointed by the Board of Directors and the leadership, executive operations and day to day management are once again on track. Dr. Flores brings to our Association a new direction, openness and level of integrity. In addition he has recently employed a new Executive Assistant, Mrs. Kathleen M. Clemens who will be available on a daily basis to help run the national operations.
Our web site, one of the most valuable USDLA assets, is under redesign courtesy of Glenda Mathis and her staff from Springboard Group in Texas and improvement and publications will be provided to you online, with the continued good leadership of our editorial team, Elizabeth and Don Perrin.
Teleconference Magazine (which will soon include a special USDLA insert section) will go to each of our full members.
There is more to share but to keep this report reasonable in length, we will hold the balance for the Annual Meeting.
What do we need from you, our members?
Financially, the association has made great strides in the past few months. Individual memberships continue to grow and we are happy to report that premium sponsorships are at an all time high. It will be incumbent upon Dr. Flores, our new Executive Director, to continue this direction in partnership with industry representatives and association members.
Finally, stay with us and share your ideas; review the new bylaws on line that will be voted on November 2, 1999, by all members present; and be patient. As you know this is a volunteer organization and all the effort to date has been donated by board members and former leaders of this association who believe in the value of USDLA. We have a world-recognized brand and we have only begun to influence the future of distance learning.
It has been a very bumpy road for the past year but USDLA has survived it due to the work of so many. We extend special thanks to Advanstar whose leadership has worked hand in hand with the transition team to resolve some very difficult problems.
While we still face challenges, with the continued support of our membership we will enter the 21st Century as a strong and energized association ready to provide leadership in our country and beyond.
The Transition Team:
The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) invites nominations for the USDLA Distance Learning Awards. Nominations are due January 14, 2000, and will be awarded during the General Session of TeleCon East/International Distance Learning Conference (IDLCON, March 2, 2000 at the Mariott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Awardees will be honored at a reception at the Israeli Embassy
following the event.