Informed Decision-Making: The Importance of Distillation and Synthesis


Theatre administrators face many issues. Daily, issues in considerable number and breadth appear and require attention, reflection, analysis, and action. Local parameters, professional expectations for theatre teaching and learning, and community-wide educational cultures and procedures are springboards as theatre executives employ their skills to gather information, shepherd conversations, assemble consensus, and develop courses of action. When successful, such efforts not only produce positive results, they also increase trust in decision-making elements and processes. Confidence is built from such successes and other components as well; for example, operational fealty to a clearly articulated and shared vision; factual, true, and genuine information analyzed and applied carefully; and considered conclusions and stable mechanisms that inform and assist individual and small group operations, work, and evaluation. Clearly, trust is a critical common element and must be built in many dimensions and on many levels.

Accuracy and quality of information are major ingredients in building and maintaining trust. Whether facing the effects of a critical situation or anticipating what will come next, good and real information is key, as is honesty about the true status of information based on estimates: the ways and the extent to which estimates may be accurate at any given, but not necessarily in the next, moment. But there is more. It would appear that a characteristic shared by the most successful theatre administrators is a desire to seek virtuosity in understanding detail by studying, evaluating, distilling, synthesizing, and formulating information-based conclusions for others to review, to use in their own efforts, or to employ while cooperating with others. These information-based results are usually institution-specific. Most often, they do not spring forth from raw information itself, but rather from a process that includes reviewing specific issues in light of multiple contexts, starting with core purposes and functions and moving on to current local, regional, and at times, national conditions and climates. These administrators also master the art of leading, of making changes when new information indicates that a previous decision should be altered. Such careful considerations are oriented more to making institution-specific choices than to discovering and following what is being said, thought, or done elsewhere. The conversation and considerations in such environments are almost always pure in nature and intent and therefore typically focused on actions that are designed to serve the greater good.

Of course, time is an issue. Most theatre professionals seek efficient use of time because there is always so much to be done. Usually, it takes time to be thorough and discerning. Many issues are complex, many problems do not have single answers. At times, it takes time to define a problem clearly in terms of one’s specific situation. Simple, singular, and quick answers may be appropriate when such approaches fit the nature of the problem. Most likely, however, hastily made decisions as they pertain to complex matters create difficulties down the line and postpone the formulation of ways forward that address both the short- and long-term aspects of an issue in relationship with other issues and goals. Virtuoso administrators are careful about setting precedents, or ending with solutions that work in one sector, but do damage in others, or being insufficiently aware of the local context or the full set of real costs and risks associated with a specific course of action. They are willing to be patient, to take the time necessary to be thorough, to look at options in light of the full range of operational and resource issues and in consideration of prospective conditions in areas critical to the continuing success of their students and colleagues in the field of theatre now and in the immediate future.

It is of utmost importance for theatre administrators to review and remain abreast of current and newly released information as it applies to ongoing institutional considerations. Using the principles outlined above as a reference for context, specific sources of information are listed below as they pertain to (a) development of arts advocacy campaigns which underline the value of arts education, (b) responsibilities of NAST-accredited institutional members, (c) the coronavirus – its effects as they relate to arts study and consideration of possible mitigation options, (d) the role of strategic thinking and planning and their impact on the decision-making process, and (e) federal law and regulation governing the flow of federal monies available to support institutions of higher education and the students they serve. The information is pertinent to the long-term health and well-being of theatre as a field of study – a concern which remains in our sights even though at times our daily attentions are diverted elsewhere. Some of the information provided is pertinent to what our country and therefore we face from day to day. Some may be pertinent to current realities in play at your institution; some less so. Different institutions have different missions and face different sets of realities, and therefore it is important to study and consider the information, determining its applicability carefully, particularly as it may apply to your local situation. The value of verified information cannot be underestimated. However, it is important to remember that the real work begins when the information collected and adjudged for its applicability is used to nurture informed decision-making. Informed decision-making will not occur from the mere collection of information but rather from thorough analysis which confirms the applicability of the information to the issues at hand, and its potential to inform decision-making which takes into consideration local realities, responsibilities, and resources. Should further information or analysis be required regarding the topics highlighted in this text or on other topics, seek specific guidance and wisdom from those with the expertise to assist you. Then, having developed confidence in your research and study, you will be in a good place to make broadly conceived decisions that will move initiatives on behalf of the work of your institution or department forward. It helps to remember that decision-making is not a one-time event; it is an unfolding and ongoing process, in part because conditions are always changing. Each decision is merely a piece of a puzzle that must be solved for a time. Normally, the more volatile and unstable the conditions, the more difficult the daily and the long-term puzzles, and the more choices of answers are available.

NAST Resources

Publications

NAST maintains an extensive library of information, the holdings of which serve as a source of support and assistance to theatre administrators. Highlighted below is information intended to assist you to prepare for conversations that may arise which question the value of arts study, particularly during times when resources available to the institution have been reduced, and the allocation of remaining resources is in question. Please note: A full list of NAST published texts may be found in the Publications section of the NAST website.

Advocacy

Information available in the texts listed below may be of assistance to theatre administrators in need of creating talking points which clearly outline the value and importance of art study.

National Standards

The NAST standards, in place and in force for nearly a century, approved and amended by the NAST membership upon achievement of consensus, confirm and attest to the level of rigor required of theatre study in the United States, and the achievements expected of students enrolled in theatre study.

  • Characteristics of NAST Standards. A broad overview of the characteristics of the national standards found in the NAST Handbook.
  • NAST 2020-2021 Handbook. Includes the Constitution, Bylaws, Code of Ethics, Rules of Practice and Procedure, and Standards for Accreditation.

NAST Notices Pertaining to COVID-19

Professional Development Opportunities

Attending to the provisions of its aims and objectives, in addition to the service of accreditation provided by NAST and its Policy Studies and Institutional Research initiatives, NAST offers various Professional Development opportunities. Listed below are topic- and accreditation-focused sessions and presentations to be conducted via various electronic means.

Topic-Focused Sessions

Past Sessions

BIOAEROSOL EMISSIONS IN THE PERFORMING ARTS – REDUCING EMISSIONS AND EXPOSURES: A MULTI-PART SERIES (PART ONE)

The novel coronavirus is unquestionably serious and deadly, as of this writing, with more than 14 million cases reported worldwide and over 600,000 deaths. The spread of SARS-CoV-2 appears to occur through the emission of large and small droplets that are deposited on surfaces and released into the air, the latter of which (defined as aerosols) can hang and circulate in the air for hours while remaining infectious. Aerosols are emitted from the human respiratory tract through normal breathing, forced-air breathing (as during exercise or the playing of wind instruments), speaking, singing, coughing, and sneezing. It would appear that the smallest aerosols may be inhaled into the lungs and could lead to more serious disease, such as pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome, and sepsis. Unfortunately, infected individuals are not always symptomatic and could pose a risk to others in artistic settings.

Within the performing arts, it has been reported that COVID-19 has spread during choral rehearsals, resulting in a majority of participants being infected; several of these cases even led to death. Due to the surmounting unknowns and the continued spread of the virus, collegiate arts programs are facing challenges as they are called upon to adapt and resume operations. Given the methods of transmission of COVID-19, it is appropriate to ask what risks instructors, students, and administrators in the arts disciplines are likely to face. For example, how should choral and wind-music settings be managed, noting that these two activities require deep breathing and result in the subsequent dispersion of bioaerosols? Are theatre students endangering their surrounding colleagues if they are required to vocalize often and/or loudly? Are dance studios large enough to dissipate bioaerosols during rehearsals? Are music practice rooms safe for more than one individual? How many individuals can be accommodated safely in a particular studio setting? How can accommodations be made for those involved, especially individuals who, if infected, may be at a higher risk for health complications?

This series will follow several current and ongoing scientific studies. As we begin, the sessions are anticipated to be offered during a six-month period beginning in August of 2020 and will align with the availability of salient findings from the studies. Individuals conducting the studies with expertise in bioaerosol emissions and related fields will lead the sessions. The presenters will seek to provide information addressing questions such as: What is the rate (and size) of bioaerosol emitted by performers of varying age and gender when engaging in arts activities, and why is this important to know? How effective are active and passive control measures at reducing bioaerosol emissions and exposures, measures such as isolation and distancing, room ventilation and filtration, respirator and mask use, and use of personal protective equipment. Can the risks of co-exposure be reduced to levels which allow operations to continue using these active and passive controls?

Additionally, presenters will explore ways in which arts administrators might approach, consider, and determine the amount, completeness, and accuracy of information being disseminated at the present time, and ensure the possession of credible information that will have a reasonable shelf life and assist to provide guidance to an institution crafting an ongoing plan of action.

Time for questions will be provided.

Facilitators/Presenters: Shelly Miller, University of Colorado Boulder
Donald Milton, University of Maryland
John Volckens, Colorado State University
Moderator: Daniel Goble, Colorado State University

Date: August 21, 2020
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m. ET
Click here to view Donald Milton’s slides from this session
Click here to view John Volckens’s slides from this session
Click here to view Shelly Miller’s slides from this session

BIOGRAPHIES

Shelly L. Miller is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and a faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Engineering program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her current research projects include designing engineering controls for improving indoor environmental quality, association of coarse particles with health effects in urban and rural areas, characterization of indoor environmental quality, characterizing ultrafine particles that penetrate into mechanically ventilated buildings, understanding the microbiology of the built environment, and studying how HVAC systems play a role in infectious disease transmission. Dr. Miller received a Ph.D. degree and Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from Harvey Mudd College.

Donald Milton is a Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Public Health, with a secondary appointment in the UMD School of Medicine. He is board certified in Internal and Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which includes more than twenty years of experience in environmental and occupational medicine referral practice. His research interests and projects include the interrelated areas of infectious bioaerosols, exhaled breath analysis, and development and application of innovative methods for respiratory epidemiology. He has served on editorial boards for the publications Applied Environmental Microbiology, Indoor Air, and BMC Public Health; additionally, he served as a chair for the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ Bioaerosols Committee. Dr. Milton received a Ph.D. degree and a Master of Health degree in Environmental Health from Harvard University, a Doctor of Medicine degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.

John Volckens is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University (CSU), where he also directs the Center for Energy Development and Health. His research interests involve combustion science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. He is a co-founder of the CSU Partnership for Air Quality, Climate, and Health, as well as Access Sensor Technologies. He has published over 100 manuscripts related to exposure science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. In March 2020, the CSU lab began serving as the respirator performance testing center for the Colorado COVID-19 Response Task Force. Dr. Volckens earned a Ph.D. degree and a Master of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont.

Please note: The information provided in this session is not intended to (a) suggest, provide, or impose definitive solutions to specific challenges faced by schools, rather it is provided to expand understandings as school representatives consider options associated with current school realities and anticipated possibilities, or (b) represent required accreditation standards, guidelines, or procedures.

BIOAEROSOL EMISSIONS IN THE PERFORMING ARTS – REDUCING EMISSIONS AND EXPOSURES: A MULTI-PART SERIES (PART TWO)

With more than 52 million cases of the novel coronavirus reported worldwide and over 1 million deaths to date, there is no question but that this virus remains of grave concern. As we discussed during the last session, the spread of SARS-CoV-2 appears to occur through the emission of large and small droplets that are deposited on surfaces and released into the air, the latter of which (defined as aerosols) can remain suspended and circulate in the air for hours while remaining infectious. Aerosols are emitted from the human respiratory tract through normal and forced-air breathing (such as during exercise or the playing of wind instruments), speaking, singing, coughing, and sneezing. It would appear that the smallest aerosols may be inhaled into the lungs and can lead to more serious disease, such as pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome, and sepsis. Unfortunately, infected individuals are not always symptomatic and therefore can pose risks to others.

We have learned a great deal about this virus. At the same time, there remain unknowns. What we know for sure at this time is that this virus continues to spread, and therefore, collegiate fine and performing arts programs face day-in and day-out challenges as they are called upon to resume operations, or to adapt in ways that enable the continuation of operations, which may take various shapes and forms. Given the methods of transmission of COVID-19, it remains appropriate to ask what additional risks instructors, students, and administrators in the arts disciplines may face. For example, how should choral and wind-music settings be managed, noting that these two activities require deep breathing and the subsequent dispersion of bioaerosols? Are theatre students endangering their surrounding colleagues if they are required to vocalize often and/or loudly? Are dance studios large enough to allow for the dissipation of bioaerosols during rehearsals? Are music practice rooms safe for more than one individual? How many individuals can be accommodated safely in a particular studio art or design setting? How can accommodations be made for those involved, especially individuals who, if infected, may be at a higher risk for health complications?

This series will follow several current and ongoing scientific studies. These sessions, which began in August of 2020, will align with the availability of salient findings from the studies. This second session in the series will be led by Professor John Volckens of Colorado State University. Professor Volckens will provide an update on the progress of his ongoing study focused specifically on bioaerosol emissions, including current factual information which this study has brought to clear light, and how an understanding of this information may, should, and will affect our work in the fine and performing arts fields.

Additionally, Professor Volckens will provide an update on his ongoing work to understand the efficacy of masks and face-coverings, which are now thought to be a primary means to control the spread of the virus from individuals in close contact.

Given the substantial amount of information available today, Professor Volckens will discuss ways in which arts administrators might approach, consider, and determine the completeness and accuracy of information in circulation and that being released at the present time – this to assist arts administrators to ensure that they possess and are working with credible information that not only can be expected to have a reasonable shelf life, but also, assist to provide guidance to administrators crafting short- and long-term plans of action.

The opportunity to pose questions will be provided.

Presenter: John Volckens, Colorado State University
Moderator: Daniel Goble, Colorado State University

Date: December 2, 2020
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session

BIOGRAPHY

John Volckens is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University (CSU), where he also directs the Center for Energy Development and Health. His research interests involve combustion science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. He is a co-founder of the CSU Partnership for Air Quality, Climate, and Health, as well as Access Sensor Technologies. He has published over 100 manuscripts related to exposure science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. In March 2020, the CSU lab began serving as the respirator performance testing center for the Colorado COVID-19 Response Task Force. Dr. Volckens earned a Ph.D. degree and a Master of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont.

BIOAEROSOL EMISSIONS IN THE PERFORMING ARTS – REDUCING EMISSIONS AND EXPOSURES: A MULTI-PART SERIES (PART THREE)

With more than 141 million cases of the novel coronavirus reported worldwide and over 3 million deaths to date, there is no question but that this virus remains of grave concern. As we discussed during the last session, the spread of SARS-CoV-2 appears to occur through the emission of large and small droplets that are deposited on surfaces and released into the air, the latter of which (defined as aerosols) can remain suspended and circulate in the air for hours while remaining potentially infectious. The human respiratory tract emits both droplets (liquid particles larger than 100 μm) and aerosols (those smaller than 100 μm) through activities such as normal and forced-air breathing (such as during exercise or the playing of wind instruments), speaking, singing, coughing, and sneezing. Large droplets can be projected into the body at close range, while aerosols may be inhaled deep into the lungs. Unfortunately, infected individuals are not always symptomatic and therefore can pose risks to others in close proximity.

We have learned a great deal about this virus. At the same time, there remain unknowns that cloud our decision making. What we know for sure at this time is that this virus continues to spread, and therefore, collegiate fine and performing arts programs face day-in and day-out challenges as they are called upon to resume operations, or to adapt in ways that enable the continuation of operations, which may take various shapes and forms. Given the methods of transmission of COVID-19, questions linger about what additional risks we may face as instructors, students, and administrators in the arts disciplines. For example, how should choral and wind-music settings be managed, noting that these two activities require deep breathing and the subsequent dispersion of bioaerosols? Are theatre students endangering their surrounding colleagues if they are required to vocalize often and/or loudly? Are dance studios large enough to allow for the dissipation of bioaerosols during rehearsals? Are music practice rooms safe for more than one individual? How many individuals can be accommodated safely in a particular studio art or design setting? How can accommodations be made for those involved, especially individuals who, if infected, may be at a higher risk for health complications?

This series will follow several current and ongoing scientific studies. These sessions, which began in August of 2020, will align with the availability of salient findings from the studies. This third session in the series will be led by Professor John Volckens of Colorado State University. Professor Volckens will provide an update on the progress of his ongoing study focused specifically on bioaerosol emissions in the performing arts, including current factual information that this study has brought to clear light, and how an understanding of this information may, should, and will affect our work in the fine and performing arts fields.

Additionally, Professor Volckens will provide an update on ongoing work to understand the efficacy of masks and face-coverings, which are now thought to be a primary means to control the spread of the virus from individuals in close contact.

Given the substantial amount of information available today, Professor Volckens will discuss ways in which arts administrators might approach, consider, and determine the completeness and accuracy of information in circulation and that being released at the present time – this to assist arts administrators to ensure that they possess and are working with credible information that not only can be expected to have a reasonable shelf life, but also, assist to provide guidance to administrators crafting short- and long-term plans of action.

The opportunity to pose questions will be provided.

Presenter: John Volckens, Colorado State University
Moderator: Daniel Goble, Colorado State University

Date: May 20, 2021
Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session

BIOGRAPHY

John Volckens is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University (CSU), where he also directs the Center for Energy Development and Health. His research interests involve combustion science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. He is a co-founder of the CSU Partnership for Air Quality, Climate, and Health, as well as Access Sensor Technologies. He has published over 100 manuscripts related to exposure science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. In March 2020, the CSU lab began serving as the respirator performance testing center for the Colorado COVID-19 Response Task Force. Dr. Volckens earned a Ph.D. degree and a Master of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont.

CONNECTING WITH THE COMMUNITY: EXPLORING OPTIONS, CREATING POSSIBILITIES

The work of the theatre unit can be an invaluable and indispensable asset to the institutional community. Not only can the power of storytelling coalesce communities, it can also promote connection, deepen understanding, and advance awareness. The work of the theatre unit has the ability to open doors that have been closed, re-establish ties that have been broken, and mend long-standing rifts. But does this ability stop at the academy’s threshold? Can it extend beyond the boundaries of the institution? Should the theatre unit seek to expand its reach into the community, and in doing so, is it possible that the closed doors, broken ties, and protracted rifts that exist just beyond the academy walls can be opened, re-established, and mended? This session will extend the conversations begun two years ago in Minneapolis. Vignettes will be shared which depict not only success stories, but initiatives that posed challenges and how these challenges were addressed. Attendees will also consider how community connections might in return enhance the cultural and artistic development of the theatre unit, and lead to innovative initiatives that may result in fruitful opportunities for theatre students. Attendees will give thought to how communities can be best served by the work of the institution. How can theatre be a catalyst for positive results? How might administrators work with their faculty and students to further community engagement efforts? The presenter will assist participants to consider how community connections can be established, and what it means to nurture such connections. Rather than developing concrete action plans, participants will advance their understanding of the realm of possibilities.

Time for questions will be provided.

Presenter: Jack Reuler, Mixed Blood Theatre
Moderator: DeAnna Toten Beard, Baylor University

Date: March 31, 2021
Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m. ET

BIOGRAPHY

Jack Reuler has been the Artistic Director of Mixed Blood Theatre since 1976, when he founded the theatre at the age of 22, continuing work that began as a summer social justice project. As Artistic Director, Reuler works to realize Mixed Blood’s mission by providing vision, building financial stability, and ensuring quality programming. Director Reuler’s family has been in the Twin Cities for five generations. In March 2017, his combined love of sports and theater led to the world premiere of Safe at Home, a nine-scene play performed in the locker room, dugout, and other spaces of the St. Paul Saints’ stadium. His most recent notable production includes The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a play adapted from the novel by Mark Haddon.

FACING THE FALLOUT OF NATIONAL EVENTS: THE EFFECTS ON MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

With alarming regularity, we are witnessing an uptick in the number of students, faculty, and staff who are facing and struggling with psychological challenges. Current events have led to the disruption of normal processes and therefore have taken a toll on all individuals involved in arts programs. The roots of anxiety are far reaching and can result from social, emotional, and behavioral conditions. These psychological challenges can arise in various forms and arrive with varying intensities. A student’s failure at an audition, jury, or job opportunity can undermine confidence. Dwelling on social conditions brought about by national events can result in trauma. Incidents of campus violence can breed fear. Consideration of future remuneration can lead to worries about long-term financial stability.

Simultaneously, arts faculty and administrators face their own realities that can also be tied to mental health and well-being. Issues related to workload-to-life balance, lack of support for and acceptance of artistic/creative work and endeavors can lead increasingly to burnout, apathy, and detachment. How can faculty and administrators effectively deal with difficult situations that pertain to, for example, a lack of optimism, evaluation and assessment processes, mentorship of students and junior faculty, conversations that present varying opinions held? Since the nurturing of individuals and the environment in which they operate can result in positive outcomes, how can administrators enable participants to remain cognizant of the overall effectiveness of group dynamics, which can enhance the wellness of the entire arts unit?

Exacerbated by the events of the last year and future unknowns, the list of psychological challenges offered above is only partially reflective of today’s realities. The duration of pandemic as well as the many questions left to be answered, may be suggested to be causing weariness, frustration, and despondence. While arts administrators may be ill-equipped to address such issues, much less recognize when help or intervention may be necessary, administrators must not only manage the challenges, but also the aftermath, particularly as it relates to the health and well-being of individuals involved in the work of the unit. Administrators must help to buffer faculty, staff, and students so that the work of the arts unit can continue. In terms of mental health and well-being during this time, what can/must be done to assist students, faculty, and staff in need? What must be done when need is evident but not directly disclosed? Where can individuals within the arts unit turn for help? Where does the administrator turn for assistance and support? Today’s presenter will address these questions, and in doing so, strive to deepen awareness among arts administrators and bring to light some of the issues that are prevalent on campuses today. Time for questions will be provided.

Presenter: Nadine Kaslow, Emory University
Moderator: Michael Wilder, Wheaton College

Date: April 16, 2021
Time: 2:00-3:45 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session
Click here to view Excellence vs. Perfection handout from this session

BIOGRAPHY

Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, ABPP is a Professor and Vice Chair for Faculty Development, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Emory University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Chief Psychologist and Director of the Grady Nia Project, Grady Health System; Director of the Atlanta Trauma Alliance; and Director of the Postdoctoral Residency Program in Health Service Psychology, Emory University School of Medicine. In 2012, she received a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Pepperdine University. She has held numerous fellowships throughout the United States and, in 2014, served as President of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Editor of the Journal of Family Psychology. Dr. Kaslow has also received numerous awards, including the 2004 Distinguished Contributions for Education and Training Award from the APA, the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center’s Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Training, Emory University’s Thomas Jefferson Award for service to the community, and the Emory School of Medicine Lifetime Leadership and Service Award. Her primary areas of research include the culturally-informed assessment and treatment of family violence (intimate partner violence, child maltreatment) and suicide in youth and adults, post-traumatic stress disorder and its treatment, couples and family therapy, women’s mental health, integrated healthcare and a competency-based approach to psychology education and supervision. A member of Rosalynn Carter’s Mental Health Advisory Board, Dr. Kaslow is the psychologist for the Atlanta Ballet and a frequent media guest.

INFORMED BY SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS: PLANNING FOR TOMORROW

The pandemic has made teaching in the fine and performing arts more difficult, in some respects, nearly impossible. Now more than ever, administrators may encounter situations and therefore decisions which must be made as they pertain to issues such as course offerings and the various ways content is delivered, the necessity to modify facilities to ensure their safe use, management of already-scarce resources, among others. Scientific findings can be invaluable in informing decision-making processes. Assuming that information is verified and can be applied with some certainty, how might scientific findings inform or change teaching and learning in the fine and performing arts? Given the technical nature of recent scientific studies and findings, how is an administrator to know how to interpret certain conclusions, let alone know what is reliable information and what is not? How can such finding be used to enhance and guide planning today and in the coming year(s)?

Presenter: Adam Schwalje, University of Iowa
Moderator: Thomas Webster, East Texas Baptist University

Date: April 8, 2021
Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session

BIOGRAPHY

Adam Schwalje is a resident physician and National Institutes of Health T32 research fellow in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. A bassoonist, Dr. Schwalje was a band teacher and music educator before receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is currently the medical liaison for the International Double Reed Society. Dr. Schwalje completed his medical training at the University of California, San Francisco.

MAKING THE STORY RELEVANT

Part of the continued popularity of certain playwrights is the long-held acceptance that their themes are both timeless and universal. Shakespeare, for instance, remains the most-performed and most-taught playwright in the United States. Nonetheless, in making decisions to perform such works, theatre administrators face the risk that the works will be received by contemporary audiences as tedious, inaccessible, or out of touch. Theatre administrators therefore must grapple with a multitude of challenging aspects as they relate to any given work: language barriers, historical unfamiliarity, or foreignness of context. For these reasons and others of pressing import, administrators must pay careful attention and ensure that the dialogue is not only relevant and engaging, but as well elevates the experience to a place which challenges the audience to derive value from the story itself. Updating a play’s setting, context, language, and attire involves a considerable amount of thoughtful decision-making that can serve to illuminate works in thought-provoking, timely, and meaningful ways. Further, theatre can be a vehicle used to deepen understandings of human principles, open minds, begin discussions, and coalesce communities––all through its ability to tell impactful stories. This places before theatre administrators a number of important issues to be considered when the selection of work is being considered. What influences/should influence the creative process when planning a new production, and what must be done to ensure that the stated vision and approach (1) is clearly understood by all involved, (2) effectively guides individuals throughout the learning process, and (3) inspires the entire creative process? When is a new idea or interpretation of a classic work conceptualized enough to attempt its realization? What determines when an idea is not ready yet? What risks are involved in play selection, casting, physical location, and adaptation? Pedagogically, what are healthy ways of discussing these risks with students, of involving them in the process? When should important traditions be maintained and when should liberties be encouraged? Without involving histrionics or over-sensationalism, what ensures that the outcome of certain decisions will captivate, speak to, and engage an audience? How can theatre explore controversial issues with nuance and sensitivity, without adopting an agenda or taking a side? How can the education and training provided by theatre units to students instill and develop in them a curiosity and willingness that will prod them to explore universal themes with depth, breadth, and varieties of lenses? What is the nature of interplay around ideas such as what is classic, what is important, what is relevant, and what is innovative? The presenter will explore the process of (1) conceptualizing a work, (2) making deliberate choices that guide a work’s production, and (3) presenting performances which will resonate with audiences and enable them to transcend views, beliefs, and understandings held.

Time for questions will be provided.

Presenter: Ralph Alan Cohen, American Shakespeare Center
Moderator: Karin Magaldi, Portland State University

Date: May 26, 2021
Time: 12:00-1:15 p.m. ET

BIOGRAPHY

Ralph Alan Cohen is Co-Founder and Director of Mission of the American Shakespeare Center, Emeritus Professor of English at James Madison University, and currently Gonder Professor of Shakespeare at Mary Baldwin University, where he founded the graduate program in Shakespeare and Performance. He was project director for the building of the Blackfriars Playhouse and has directed 30 productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. He has directed four scholar summer institutes on Shakespeare and staging sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The author of ShakesFear and How to Cure It: The Complete Handbook for Teaching Shakespeare, Dr. Cohen has been the recipient of numerous awards from institutions such as the Globe, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and his alma mater, Duke University.

MITIGATING INHERENT RISK: FORMULATING STRATEGIES AND ACTION PLANS TO ADDRESS THE EFFECTS OF THE CORONAVIRUS

Now more than ever, administrators encounter a number of scenarios rife with risk. If left unresolved, these scenarios can result in undesirable and/or dire consequences. At the local level they may pertain to student and faculty wellness or resource management; at the institutional level, administrative support; at the state level, funding; at the national level, communicable disease; and at the federal level, the imposition of law, guidelines, and regulation. Administrators by fiat have become managers of realities, and therefore, of threats, liabilities, and risks.

Before considering options or making decisions , it is important to recognize several key factors, such as a) factual and scientifically-verified information is a critical aspect in the decision-making process, b) solutions and action plans must be tailored to individual institutions, and c) based on the pressures placed on arts administrators to come to swift and effective resolution, risk is inherent. Thus, to successfully mitigate for risk, there must be a consideration of local conditions and realities, since what works for an institution in one region may not be the best solution for an institution in another. A review of all options available and a willingness to stack these options as necessary to find a combination that addresses institutional challenges is also key to risk mitigation. Familiarity with laws, regulations, guidelines, and legal vernacular can also often help administrators avoid problematic situations that can put individuals or an institution as a whole at risk. In addition, once a well-conceived action plan––one that has considered the risks inherent in each of the moving parts––has been adopted, it may be important to consider developing plans that address how information will be documented and disseminated to students, faculty, staff, parents, and the public.

Attendees will consider the anticipated fallout from known and projected events related to the novel coronavirus. They will explore options that may be beneficial to consider in the short and long term. Participants will explore ways in which administrators can prepare for tomorrow, build portfolios of viable options that are informed by reliable information and local conditions, and become more deeply aware of how to actively watch for, consider, and manage the ongoing challenge of risk mitigation and management. Time for questions will be provided.

Presenters: Kevin Case, Case Arts Law LLC
Peter Chin-Hong, University of California, San Francisco
Adam Schwalje, University of Iowa
Moderator: Thomas Webster, East Texas Baptist University

Date: August 17, 2020
Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET
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BIOGRAPHIES

Kevin Case is the founder and Principal of Case Arts Law LLC, a legal firm that represents musicians and artists nationwide in labor and employment matters, including the drafting and negotiation of collective bargaining agreements and individual employment contracts on behalf of symphony and opera musicians. Since 2015, he has served as General Counsel to the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM). A seasoned litigator, Mr. Case has broad-based experience advising clients in cases involving employment discrimination, employee discipline and discharge, non-competition and other restrictive covenants, and personal injury. Mr. Case, a violinist, symphonic musician and graduate of the Eastman School of Music, has held orchestral positions across the United States. Mr. Case graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he served as Executive Articles Editor for the Chicago-Kent Law Review.

Peter Chin-Hong is a Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Regional Campuses at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he directs the immunocompromised host infectious diseases program. He specializes in treating infectious diseases, particularly infections that develop in patients who have suppressed immune systems and donor-derived infections in transplant recipients. A medical educator, he was the inaugural holder of the Academy of Medical Educators Endowed Chair for Innovation in Teaching. Dr. Chin-Hong earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University before completing an internal medicine residency and infectious diseases fellowship at UCSF.

Adam Schwalje is a resident physician and National Institutes of Health T32 research fellow in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. A bassoonist, Dr. Schwalje was a band teacher and music educator before receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is currently the medical liaison for the International Double Reed Society. Dr. Schwalje completed his medical training at the University of California, San Francisco.

A REVIEW OF THE CURRENT FINAL RULE ADDRESSING NONDISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF SEX IN EDUCATION PROGRAMS OR ACTIVITIES RECEIVING FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS

Institutions of higher learning receiving federal financial assistance are bound to adhere to the provisions of Title IX, a law first introduced in 1972 as an amendment to the Higher Education Act which states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial aid.” The provisions of this law and its application have been under scrutiny for the last several years. In September of 2017, the Department of Education (a) rolled back Title IX guidance, specifically provisions included in the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter and the 2014 Question and Answer set, (b) issued interim guidance pertaining to Title IX, and (c) published notice of its intent to renegotiate current regulations through the process known as Negotiated Rulemaking. Before the comment-period deadline in early 2019, the Department of Education received over 100,000 comments; subsequently, the Department issued a final rule in May 2020, the provisions of which go into effect August 14, 2020.

Such actions and activities affect institutions directly, and therefore raise questions such as: What should institutions be doing to prepare for what lies ahead? What training, staffing, and policy initiatives must be enacted during this period of change? What impact will new regulations have on various campus practices? What are the implications of the final rule on institutional reporting responsibilities, and on how institutions must address student issues and needs? In an effort to advance awareness of Title IX and its provisions, the session presenter will address key factors and delve deeply into the results of the recent negotiations and rulemaking. Additionally, a portion of time will be devoted to the review of case studies intended to assist participants to develop an expanded understanding of current revisions and interpretations of the guidance in force at this time. Time for questions and discussion will be provided.

Presenter: Deborah L. Brake, University of Pittsburgh
Moderator: Michael Wilder, Wheaton College

Date: October 2, 2020
Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m. ET
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BIOGRAPHY

Deborah L. Brake is Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, John E. Murray Faculty Scholar, and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination, and Gender and the Law. She is a nationally recognized scholar on gender equality and the law, with expertise in Title IX and athletics, sexual harassment and sexual violence, employment discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation. She is a co-author of the 8th edition of Gender and Law: Theory, Doctrine, Commentary, as well as the author of Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution. Her articles have been published in journals such as the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, William and Mary Law Review, North Carolina Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, and the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender. Her scholarly work has twice been cited in U.S. Supreme Court opinions and she has testified before Congress in both the House and the Senate. Before going into academia, she was senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. Ms. Brake received a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Stanford University.

SCHOLARSHIP AND CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

National events during the past year have and will continue to have a dramatic effect on faculty pursuits as they relate to faculty achievement. Notably, the effects of the pandemic have limited the number and type of opportunities that, in the past, have led to pedagogical, creative, and professional development. Within the field of theatre, access to research and archival materials may not be possible for the foreseeable future; work as an actor/director/set designer/etc. may not come to fruition given current restrictions, travel and otherwise, imposed throughout 2020 and into 2021; opportunities to attend meetings and present research at conferences may have been postponed or cancelled; funds once used for faculty development may be inaccessible until funding sources recover. In the longer term, theatre artists and administrators may see waning opportunities, fewer jobs, more competition for the jobs that do exist, lower salaries, and, in general, less creative output. Everyone––both current and future faculty, graduates, and staff––have or will be impacted, leaving administrators to wonder if traditional approaches to achievement will need to be reframed and, if so, for what length of time? Will practices which address achievement in theatre lag behind past paces? Will intellectual losses result? If so, can they be recouped? How might administrators establish new paths/opportunities/creative processes that enable faculty to demonstrate and confirm achievement? Subsequently, how can administrators garner support for such initiatives? How might they best communicate these frameworks to faculty, upper administrators? How might achievement in theatre be framed in a mid- or post-pandemic world? Time for questions will be provided.

Presenter: Jeffrey Huberman, Bradley University
Moderator: DeAnna Toten Beard, Baylor University

Date: May 10, 2021
Time: 1:00-2:15 p.m. ET

BIOGRAPHY

Dr. Jeffrey H. Huberman has worked in communication and fine arts as a teacher, administrator, stage director, producer, and author. He received his bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre from the University of Pittsburgh, and from Indiana University he received a master’s degree in directing and a doctorate in theatre history and criticism. He has taught at Salem State College, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Texas. Currently, he is the Dean of the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts at Bradley University, where he has been a professor and administrator since 1985. Dean Huberman has directed more than 70 theatrical productions for both academic and professional theaters and is the author of two books and four plays. He is an active participant in civic, artistic, and educational opportunities, many of which he facilitates for students, faculty, and fellow administrators.

SEEING THEATRE AS A FORCE FOR ACTION

Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith will share how one of Washington, DC’s longest standing theaters is embracing practices and procedures to become an antiracist organization and building stronger connections to its community. Arena has been a proponent of the “Culture of the Rehearsal Hall,” which has been part of Arena’s core values for many years for ensuring respect, integrity and accountability, inside and outside the theater walls. Artistic Director Smith will discuss how artists, citizens, and arts workers can use these ideas to strengthen and build community both online and in person.

Time for questions will be provided.

Presenter: Molly Smith, Arena Stage
Moderator: Jim Hunter, University of South Carolina

Date: March 26, 2021
Time: 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. ET

BIOGRAPHY

Molly Smith has served as Artistic Director of Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. since 1998. Her more than 30 directing credits at Arena Stage include Carousel, Oliver!, The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof, Camp David, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, A Moon for the Misbegotten, My Fair Lady, The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Orpheus Descending, Legacy of Light, The Women of Brewster Place, Cabaret, South Pacific, Agamemnon and His Daughters, All My Sons, and How I Learned to Drive. Her directorial work has also been seen at The Old Globe, Asolo Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, Montreal’s Centaur Theatre, and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects including How I Learned to DrivePassion Play, a cycleNext to Normal; and Dear Evan Hansen. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright, and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 39 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions, and been an important part of nurturing nine projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University.

STRATEGIC THINKING - AN INTELLECTUAL ENDEAVOR: DEVELOPING AN ABIDING APPROACH

Administrators today are responsible for an expanding number of issues, events, and activities, all of which require the need to develop and possess a level of expertise in areas that range from curricular design to building operation to fundraising and advocacy, to name only a few. As expected, these growing responsibilities result in not only an increase in the number of issues that arrive on an administrator’s desk, but in a broadening of their variety, intensity, and level of difficulty. The start of a successful strategic plan, therefore, often rests on the ability to define and diagnose the type of problems faced, which includes: a thoughtful consideration of social, emotional, and political conditions; a search for valid, salient information; the use of data; a depth of understanding of the inner workings of complex systems; and an acknowledgement of the individuals and constituencies that may be affected. Thus, strategic thinking that can deepen understandings and result in carefully considered and effective decision-making processes is of vital importance in establishing and maintaining the viability of any administrative unit.

While the time spent developing and implementing a strategic plan may seem ambitious and time consuming, it is likely that a framed approach may become embedded quickly in the day-to-day activities and decision-making taking place––a way of thinking that organically takes hold and results in broader consideration of the realities faced by the academy today. Crafting an approach that is guided by artistically centered, intellectual thinking tested against serious and informed considerations in light of current facts, realities, reasonable possibilities, and long-standing practices, may be well-worth the journey. Even such, the making of a decision does not ensure that its application will always apply. The world is in flux, and decision-making is an ongoing process that may need to produce ever-changing outcomes. Certain decisions may need to be made that ensure future decision-making considerations, thereby building strategic thinking into the process as a whole.

What roles do uncertainty, exploration, and the wisdom of others play in any decision-making process? How can processes include a thorough enough consideration of options, probabilities, and pay offs? How can local conditions impact issue-specific decisions? How can administrators develop their strategic thinking methods in ways that move the unit’s and the institution’s initiatives forward in complementary fashions? What are the possible pitfalls and distractions which may be encountered? How can barriers be circumvented, and who can assist in this endeavor? What does it mean for a strategic plan to be well-conceived? How might the implementation of a plan help to engage those who are immediately impacted? How can upper administrators serve as mentors to their colleagues, thus ensuring that strategic thinking, understanding of complexity, and context-driven decision making remains an important tenet of the arts unit during times of transition or changes in leadership? What are methods of conceptualizing the relationship between the decisions of upper administration, state governments, and the federal government? If no action is taken, what is likely to prevail?

This session will serve to assist attendees to expand the tools in their strategic thinking toolkit and aims to leave administrators with a set of ideas, concepts, and action steps needed to implement a well-conceived plan.

Time for questions will be provided.

Presenter: Scott E. Page, University of Michigan
Moderator: David Gier, University of Michigan

Date: August 18, 2020
Time: 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET
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BIOGRAPHY

Scott E. Page is the John Seely Brown Distinguished University Professor of Complexity, Social Science, and Management at the University of Michigan. His research, accounted for in five books, focuses on the myriad roles that diversity plays in complex systems, the application of models to makes sense of complexity, and complexity theory. Additionally, he has published papers in a variety of disciplines including economics, political science, computer science, management, physics, public health, geography, urban planning, engineering, and history. In 2011, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Page received a Ph.D. degree in Managerial Economics and Decisions Sciences and a Master of Science degree in Business from Northwestern University, a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of Michigan.

Accreditation-Focused Sessions

Accreditation-focused sessions are available only to representatives of accredited institutional members of NAST. Registration is required.

Past Sessions

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT RESOUCRES

NAST has a number of resources available for institutions to assist in the formulation of local proposals and policies. This session will enumerate and explain the purposes of several sets of information. Areas of discussion will include faculty work, promotion, and tenure; the duties of administrators; planning and futures analysis; assessment; and communicating with others, explaining the principles, aspirations, and suggested considerations for the development of effective programs in theatre. Information described above is available on the NAST website, as is detailed and extensive information helpful to the general public, students, administrators, theatre administrators new to NAST, and those embarking upon accreditation and reaccreditation applications. A brief look at the website, highlighting its resources and use, will be offered.

Presenter: Ben Karnes, NAST National Office

Date: May 4, 2021
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
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ANNUAL REPORTING RESPONSIBILITIES

Member institutions are required to submit information to NAST on an annual basis. This session will address specific reporting requirements, timelines, deadlines, and helpful suggestions aimed to ensure complete and accurate submission of the Accreditation Audit, Affirmation Statement, Supplemental Annual Report, and the HEADS Data Survey.

The predominant focus of this session will be an in-depth review of procedures for online submission of the HEADS Data Survey for degree-granting institutions. An overview of the Survey will explain in detail the Survey submission process, types of data collected, collection mechanisms, and presentation of calculated data.

Information regarding statistics contained in the HEADS Data Summaries (the aggregate reports compiled annually from HEADS Data Surveys), the use of HEADS Data Summaries and Special Reports for comparison among specific peer institutions, and potential uses for HEADS data in local policy discussions and administrative planning, will also be provided.

Presenter: Paul Florek, NAST National Office

Date: April 20, 2021
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
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BRIEFING: AN OVERVIEW OF CURRENT FEDERAL ISSUES AND INITIATIVES

Under the law, the federal government does not control higher education. However, the federal government does play a major role in developing conditions for the work of higher education, primarily through laws and regulations defining conditions for institutional participation in grant and student loan programs, and tax policies that influence economic conditions affecting education and the arts. Following a brief introduction to the higher education and policy landscapes, this session will address the current political climate; various pressures on institutions; and current and prospective federal policies, laws, and regulations affecting higher education and the arts. This briefing will take a non-partisan policy analysis approach, looking at the ramifications and costs of various options and probabilities.

Presenter: Paul Florek, NAST National Office

Date: May 11, 2021
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
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BRIEFING: AN UPDATE FOR INDIVIDUALS CURRENTLY SERVING AS NAST EVALUATORS AND CONSULTANTS

This briefing is offered for individuals currently trained and serving as NAST visiting evaluators and consultants. It provides an opportunity for evaluators and consultants to refresh their knowledge of NAST procedures, protocols, and standards, with particular focus on the Procedures and the Handbook. Helpful reminders regarding the format, preparation, and required content of Visitors’ Reports will be provided. The potential impact of the activities of external constituencies, such as the federal government, states, and other review bodies, which may affect the accreditation process, will be discussed. Documentation required of institutions and evaluators will be highlighted, as well as sources and uses of helpful and informative publications aimed to assist institutions in the preparation of Self-Studies and evaluators and consultants in the preparation of Reports. (Please note: Individuals interested in becoming NAST evaluators are encouraged to contact the National Office staff for consideration for training in 2021.)

Presenter: Karen P. Moynahan, NAST National Office

Date: October 6, 2020
Time: 3:00-4:15 p.m.

HEADS PART I: COMPLETING AND SUBMITTING THE HEADS DATA SURVEY

This session will provide an in-depth review of procedures for online submission of the HEADS Data Survey for degree-granting institutions. A section-by-section overview of the Survey will explain in detail the Survey submission process, types of data collected, and suggested collection mechanisms.

Presenter: Nora R. Hamme, NAST National Office

Date: January 12, 2021
Time: 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
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HEADS PART II: USING STATISTICAL DATA FOR INSTITUTIONAL PLANNING AND PROJECTIONS

The institutional research data gathered and compiled by the Higher Education Arts Data Services project constitute a unique and valuable resource for theatre executives at degree-granting institutions. This session will highlight many of the ways the data can be used to assist, support, and possibly guide local planning, conversations, and decision-making. The session will offer a detailed overview of statistics contained in the HEADS Data Summaries (the aggregate reports compiled annually from HEADS Data Surveys), and the use of HEADS Data Summaries and Special Reports for comparison among specific peer institutions. In addition, participants will also learn how to create longitudinal reports, and consider together how such reports can be used to capture, analyze, and present available data in ways which may convincingly support theatre unit initiatives.

Presenter: Nora R. Hamme, NAST National Office

Date: April 27, 2021
Time: 2:30-3:30 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session

ORIENTATION FOR EXECUTIVES NEW TO NAST

This session will provide an orientation to the resources and operations of NAST, with special attention to the benefits and responsibilities of accredited institutional Membership. Discussion will emphasize ways the Association and its work can assist administrators to fulfill the many and varied aspects of their local responsibilities. At the end of the session, attendees will have the opportunity to pose questions and engage in discussion.

Presenters: Lawrence Dooley, Columbus State University
Paul Florek, NAST National Office

Date: April 5, 2021
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET
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SPECIFIC PROCEDURES FOR NAST EVALUATION

This session will provide information and guidance concerning the self-study and visitation processes for individuals whose institutions are (a) scheduled to be visited in the next two years, (b) planning to begin the NAST evaluation process, (c) formally engaged in the process, or (d) contemplating the submission of original applications for accreditation. A step-by-step walk-through of the nuts-and-bolts of the accreditation process will be provided, including confirmation of timelines and deadlines, and information regarding accreditation procedures, Self-Study formats, on-site reviews, the Visitors’ Report, the Optional Response, and Commission action. All three Self-Study formats (A, B, and C) will be discussed. Participants are encouraged to have in hand a copy of the current NAST Handbook.

Presenter: Nora R. Hamme, NAST National Office

Date: April 13, 2021
Time: 12:00-4:00 p.m. ET
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WORKSHOP FOR VISITING EVALUATORS

This annual workshop will provide training to theatre administrators interested in becoming visiting evaluators for NAST. Fundamentals of the accreditation process, and the roles and responsibilities of visiting evaluators will be discussed in detail. Significant time will be spent discussing NAST expectations with regard to Self-Study submissions and Self-Study documentation. An overview of the Handbook and its constituent parts will be provided. Standards and guidelines and their application to applicant institutions will receive considerable attention as potential evaluators are guided through the process of on-site review. Further specific attention will be devoted to guidelines that speak to the preparation of Visitors’ Reports.

(Please note: This workshop is by invitation only. Individuals interested in becoming NAST evaluators are encouraged to contact Kathryn Omune in the National Office for consideration for training in 2022.)

Presenters: Kristin Sosnowsky, Louisiana State University
DeAnna Toten Beard, Baylor University
Staff Resource: Paul Florek, NAST National Office

Date: May 14, 2021
Time: 12:00-4:00 p.m. ET

Accreditation-Focused Presentations

Accreditation-focused presentations are available for viewing on the NAST website at the addresses noted below.

Accreditation Audit and Affirmation Statement Questionnaire Instructions Presentation (Accreditation Audit, Affirmation Statement Questionnaire)

This presentation will outline the annual reporting responsibilities of accredited institutional members of NAST. An overview of the purpose of each reporting requirement will be provided as will step-by-step instructions and information pertaining to submission timelines for two of the four reporting requirements – the Accreditation Audit and the Affirmation Statement Questionnaire.

Other Resources of Note

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Federal Government

Department of Education (ED)

  • Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE): Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (March 13, 2020, April 3, 2020, May 15, 2020). For those institutions participating in federal financial aid programs, these three documents offer guidelines which address issues such as the movement from on ground to online learning platforms, federal work-study programs, modifications to the length of an academic year, changes in student enrollment status, the stewardship of Title IV funds, and institutional reporting responsibilities. Institutions designating NAST as their gatekeeper for the purpose of participation in federal aid programs should note that distance education is included in NAST’s scope of recognition as approved and listed by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
  • Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE): Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting-Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students (May 6). Outlines reporting requirements noted in Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) as related to funds available for distribution to students as provided for in the CARES Act.
  • Student Private Policy Office (SPPO): FERPA and Virtual Learning Related Resources (March 2020). SPPO has identified resources that discuss virtual learning, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). These resources include toolkits, letters, and Q&As on information security best practices, the use of the school official exception under FERPA, classroom observations, and the use of emails, videos, and other virtual learning tools. SPPO has also issued a FERPA and COVID-19 FAQ on the health or safety emergency exception under FERPA at https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/resources/ferpa-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19. For additional resources on FERPA, please review SPPO’s website at https://studentprivacy.ed.gov.

Department of Labor (DOL)

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released on March 9, 2020 a document entitled, Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, which provides assistance to employers as they plan for and respond to workplace risks.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Information of Interest