Happy New Yearby Dr. Samuel Pavel, UAA President
The beginning of the new year is a time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the previous year and set goals for the new year. Some see a new year as the opportunity for a new start. As I reflect on the accomplishments of UAA last year I am reminded of the words of the late George H.W. Bush –“I’m President... and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” Equally as poignant, but more relevant to UAA, my sage words are “Be truthful. Forgive. Take responsibility. Don’t blame other people. Do your best. Keep trying. Try harder. Be strong. Stay the course.”
‘Stay the course’ is the one that speaks to me the most this year. Our Executive Director phoned me on December 28th. We had been working on the end-of-year projections for the association and she had completed the final end-of-year transactions. For an association, the end of the fourth quarter is typically when we wait for the other shoe to fall – even when you believe you are on true course, unforeseen expenses can always occur at the last minute to undermine your success. She wanted to tell me that we hit our target. With the books completed, we had not only made our 2018 budget -- but we had a windfall that would accelerate our 5-year reserve rebuild plan down to 3 years. We were able to say the words out loud “success.” It had been a financially successful year. But more importantly, we had proven that accomplishing sound operational goals could put us on course to financial stability and growth.
Plotting the course. The UAA Board started 2018 with a modest vision and three clear goals: (1) increase membership, (2) increase corporate sponsorship, and (3) increase UAA visibility within the aviation industry. Needless to say, the vision took off. The hard work of the Board, our Committee Chairs, all the Member Institutions, and most importantly, the UAA entire membership (under the watchful guidance and assistance of the exceptional UAA staff) paid dividends that exceeded expectations.
Together we focused our finite resources into areas that would give collegiate aviation the greatest exposure, and by the end of 2018 we were receiving phone calls from the media inquiring about authors for articles, asking for data verification for news articles, requesting comments and quotes on the future of aviation, invitations followed for speakers and presenters at international aviation forums from Dubai to Dublin. Aviation and STEM High Schools from around the country contacted UAA requesting copies of the Collegiate Aviation Guide to put in the hands of their students. New partnerships were forged with aviation organizations around the nation and the world. We received a record number of submissions to our peer-reviewed journal, the CARi.
Stay the course. I am very optimistic about 2019. UAA is emerging this year as the go-to-source for aviation education and research. The flight plan we filed last year led us to very successful completion of 2018. I want to help build on these successes and position UAA as THE Aviation Education organization to which other aviation professionals and organizations will turn to for educational information and quality research.