The University Communications Office launched a site entitled Together We Will in an effort to pull information on a myriad of topics into one central place to make it easier for all of us to navigate the broad array of opportunities, resources, and messages that currently represent MSU. At times of ambiguity, it is easy to see just how big we are as a university, and yet with that size comes the great capacity for learning, for change, and for collaboration that helps us find ways to individually succeed and build a better collective future.

In its current and its past configurations, the Academic Advancement Network (AAN) has always been envisioned as a conduit to connect areas of the university to support academic and administrative careers and aspirations across the lifespan. This goal could not be more important than it is right now as we move through a series of institutional and societal transitions that challenge our practices, policies, and structures, especially around questions of access, diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is important to consider ways in which the work of faculty and academic staff and academic administrators has been altered, if not upended, by the unusual times in which we find ourselves. At the same time, one of the most exciting parts about MSU is the wealth of knowledge and expertise among members of the campus community at all levels and in all areas.

During 2019-2020, Interim Associate Provost Ann Austin effectively led AAN and continued to foster important relationships across campus and programming that supported the development of academics across their careers and respective needs. Fortunately, she has not left AAN altogether but returned to her role as a node leader and continues to lend her expertise especially to issues affecting academic careers.

Walking through the 2020-2021 year, we look forward to the many ways AAN will continue working together to build capacity across organizational levels and roles through workshops, seminars, drop-in sessions, and finding others with similar interests with whom to strategize and share ideas. Programming across the AAN nodes – Career Path Development, Teaching and Learning, Research and Scholarship, and Leadership Development – is being planned, often in collaboration with other campus partners. While these will most often be virtual in the fall, we also continue to look for ways to more fully engage and foster interaction so that we can learn together and create a more authentic community. It is in these cross-unit opportunities that we can build stronger relationships, increase understanding and share expertise, and that we find our strength, innovation, and communal wisdom.

We look forward to seeing you at activities during the fall and finding ways to help support individual and collective development. Continue to check the AAN Calendar and monthly newsletter for scheduled opportunities.