President's Message

Russ Hannah

This is not the report I planned to bring to you as recently as March, nor is it the format in which I intended to deliver it. The pandemic which struck our world and country has shaken our communities and our institutions, impacted our lives, and changed the way we conduct business – even if only temporarily. In spite of the pandemic, SACUBO has enjoyed an amazing year, achieved remarkable accomplishments, demonstrated resiliency, and laid the strong foundation for a bright future.

Coming out of last year’s annual meeting at Disney World, we recognized one of the greatest challenges facing us, and one of our greatest opportunities, was SACUBO’s relationship with our sponsors and business partners. To that end, our Executive Committee met in Nashville last May to establish a focused effort to strengthen our relationships with our current partners and identify opportunities for new ones. Darrell Duncan led this critical work, and he was joined in this effort by Chris Martin (SACUBO’s Administrative Director), Jeremy DiGorio, and Debra Ross. Building on the work of SACUBO Past President Ben Crutcher in the previous year, they did yeoman’s work on our behalf, and I am pleased to report they exceeded our goals in the development of sponsorships and business partnerships. While the cancellation of our Annual Meeting has caused many of these sponsorships to be suspended or reduced, we have demonstrated the value of focusing on these relationships and have sown the seeds for them to continue to grow in the future. SACUBO is indebted to Darrell, Chris, Jeremy, and Debra for their good work on our behalf, and I thank them.

In June, our Board and the Constituent Committees met in San Antonio to lay the groundwork for our Fall Workshop and Annual Meeting. The Constituent Committees are vital to SACUBO and serve as the important bridge between the Board and our members. I am grateful to everyone who served on one of the four committees this year to represent the interests of our institutions and members. The Committee Chairs (Jamie Loftin, Myra Goodwin, Brett Powell, and Anita Kovacs), Horace Chase (3rd Vice President), and Co-Chairs Amy Blackwell and Kevin Edelblute made up our Professional Development Committee. SACUBO is widely recognized for the quality of the professional development we provide, and I am grateful to the PD Committee members for their work and for Amy and Kevin’s leadership in this important effort.

In August, I had the privilege of speaking on behalf of SACUBO to the attendees at the College Business Management Institute (CBMI) at the University of Kentucky (UK). SACUBO’s partnership with the UK for CBMI goes back nearly seven decades, and in 2019 we saw near record attendance. Sadly, CBMI has been cancelled this year due to the pandemic; however, SACUBO’s commitment to this signature professional development event remains strong. We look forward to continuing this important partnership in 2021 and beyond.

In September, the Board met in Nashville where several important topics, including the results of the member survey conducted last summer and the current status of SACUBO’s strategic plan, were considered. I am grateful to everyone who participated in the survey. The input received helped to shape our planning of future Fall Workshops and Annual Meetings. You will be hearing more about this in the months ahead. Please know the Board takes seriously the opinions and insights of our members, and they guide our actions and planning.

The strategic plan under which we are currently operating covers the period from 2016 to 2021. The work done in developing the plan five years ago has, to a remarkable degree, guided the work of SACUBO’s Board during this time and is the basis of many of the accomplishments we’ve achieved. My thanks to those who came before us that did this good work, and I look forward to the development of our new strategic plan in the near future.

Throughout the Fall, I enjoyed representing SACUBO at meetings of the other regional associations and at the NACUBO Fall Board retreat. Notably, the eastern association, EACUBO, celebrated their centennial Annual Meeting in Baltimore. SACUBO was established in 1928, and preparations will begin soon for planning our centennial celebration. SACUBO enjoys strong relationships with NACUBO and the other three regional associations, and I appreciate our collaboration.

In November, we met in Lexington for our Fall Workshop. And, in early March, the Women’s Leadership Forum was held in New Orleans. Professional development is what SACUBO does best, and both of these events were resounding successes. Thanks to our 2nd Vice President, John Crawford, for his outstanding leadership of the Fall Workshop and to Noel Sloan and Shawn Charles for their great work in planning and hosting the Women’s Leadership Forum.

We were able to bring a couple of important initiatives to fruition this year. One effort growing out of our strategic plan was a comprehensive review of our Bylaws, policies and procedures, and business manual. SACUBO’s secretary, Brenna Dixon, led this work and was assisted by Past President Wilma Philips, Treasurer Jimmy Barnes, Board Member Alicia Currin, and myself. Some of the Bylaws changes were approved at the 2019 Annual Business Meeting, and the remaining changes were approved at the 2020 Annual Business Meeting. I am proud of the work this group has accomplished and am grateful to Brenna’s extraordinary leadership of this comprehensive effort.

Another important success this year was the negotiation of a three-year management services agreement between NACUBO and SACUBO. The national association provides numerous key support services to us, and this contract is one of our significant items of cost. I am pleased to report we reached an agreement mutually beneficial to both associations that will greatly assist our efforts at financial sustainability, another key element of our strategic plan. This is the culmination of work that began nearly two years ago, and I am grateful to Past Presidents Patrick Wamsley and Wilma Philips for their leadership and support of this effort. I also want to thank NACUBO President Susan Johnston and Senior Vice President Matt Hamill for their willingness to engage in these discussions and partner with SACUBO to preserve and strengthen our relationship.

As I noted, financial sustainability is a key element to SACUBO’s strategy. Our Board and Executive Committee have focused on this, not only this year, but, during all of my time on the SACUBO Board. Our efforts are led by our Treasurer, Jimmy Barnes. Despite the pandemic, SACUBO’s financial position remains strong. The Board and our Executive, Finance and Audit Committees take our fiduciary responsibility seriously, and I am grateful to Jimmy for his leadership of our efforts.

Next, I want to acknowledge and thank four people who have made my time as SACUBO President enjoyable and effective. SACUBO’s Administrative Director, Chris Martin, is a valuable asset to our association and does great work on our behalf. I appreciate his support and counsel during my term. Dana Neill of the NACUBO staff always does great work for us, and her efforts on our behalf as we worked through the intricacies of cancelling the Annual Meeting were extraordinary and much appreciated. I have been fortunate to follow and learn from an extraordinary business officer and individual, SACUBO Past President Wilma Philips. Wilma is retiring this year, and her presence at SACUBO will be deeply missed. Congratulations, Wilma, and thanks for always being there for SACUBO and me. We wish Lanar and you all the very best.

Finally, I want to thank our incoming president, Susan Maddux. Susan has been a great 1st Vice President and is a committed and strong advocate for SACUBO, higher education, and our profession. I look forward to her presidency and am confident our association is in good hands as she leads us in these difficult times.

I recently shared with the Board a quote from George Washington. He said, “We cannot guarantee success, we can strive to deserve it.” The pandemic has certainly confirmed there are no guarantees in life. However, I am content SACUBO worked very hard this year to deserve success. I am deeply grateful to everyone who served with me and worked so hard to ensure we continue to be successful in the future. Thank you for the opportunity to have served as our association’s president. May God Bless SACUBO, all of our institutions, and each of you.

Russ Hannah

SACUBO President

May 11, 2020