Chair’s Report, By Kathi Bailey – TIRF Turns Twenty

TESOL Board of Directors, 1998

Welcome to the first issue of TIRF Today of 2018. This is the year that TIRF turns twenty. On behalf of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce that we are launching a year-long celebration of TIRF’s 20th anniversary.

It was in June of 1998 that the TESOL Board of Directors voted to dedicate the “seed money” to establish the Foundation. I remember that day very well. I was the newly seated TESOL President, and our June 1998 Board of Directors meeting was the first one I was to chair. It had been several years since former TESOL President Joy Reid had established the Association Advancement Committee (AAC) to determine whether or not it would be feasible to establish a foundation to support our profession. The 1998 TESOL Board, pictured to the left, included: standing left to right: Shelley Wong, Richard Boyum, Nancy Slater, Consuelo Stebbins, Gail Weinstein, Neil Anderson, Natalie Kuhlman, Jim Rogers, Sandy Briggs, Grace Low, Donna Fujimoto, and Virginia Christopher; and, seated left to right: David Nunan, Kathi Bailey, MaryAnn Christison, and Denise Murray.

Joy appointed an all-star team of leaders in our field: Jim Alatis, Ed Anthony, Russ Campbell, Jodi Crandall, Rick Jenks, Joan Morley, and Dick Tucker. For three years, they worked to try to identify possible funding sources—gathering input from publishers, authors, and other individuals. The process was slow and often frustrating. The AAC members reported to the TESOL Board of Directors at every meeting, but the Board members were hesitant (and rightfully so) about committing any of TESOL’s financial resources to establish a foundation when no major donors had stepped up to offer millions of dollars to build an endowment.

The AAC’s report to the June 1998 TESOL Board of Directors was a game changer. It addressed the five components of what was then TESOL’s Forward Plan: (1) professional development, (2) advocacy, (3) research, (4) standards, and (5) organizational development. At the point in our agenda when we were to discuss this issue, I remember passing the presidential gavel to MaryAnn Christison, the Immediate Past President, for her to chair the meeting so that I could take a turn in the discussion and speak in favor of establishing the foundation. Richard Boyum, a member of the TESOL Board of Directors at that time, made the motion (and a very convincing case) to establish a foundation. During this discussion, I kept quiet. I didn’t feel the need to try to influence the Board in any way.

After substantial discussion, it appeared the Board was ready to vote, but Neil Anderson, also a member of the Board, asked me: “Kathi, why are you opposed to the motion?”

I replied, “Neil, I am not opposed.”

He asked me, “Then why aren’t you speaking up in favor of this motion?”

I said, “Because I am so subtle!”

Of course, that comment brought whoops of laughter from the Board and the TESOL staff members present because subtlety is not one of my strong points. After the laughter subsided, I did take a turn and spoke in favor of the motion to establish a foundation to support research in our field. The motion passed and the Foundation was begun.

Through the following months, the AAC members became TIRF’s first Board of Trustees. They worked to write the foundation’s bylaws and gain approval as an official charitable organization under U.S. tax law. TIRF was incorporated in 1999.

For all these reasons, we will be celebrating TIRF’s 20th anniversary for an entire year, from the 2018 TESOL Convention in Chicago through the 2019 TESOL Convention in Atlanta. In future issues of TIRF Today, we will be telling you more about the activities and how you can participate, no matter where you may be.

For now, let me share with you some of the plans we have for our anniversary year:

  1. As of this writing, we have 862 “Likes” on TIRF’s Facebook page. We hope to have 1,000 Likes by the beginning of the 2018 TESOL Convention. I am hereby setting a goal of 2,000 “Likes” by the beginning of the 2019 TESOL Convention.
  2. In the February issue of TIRF Today we will share with you a quiz about TIRF’s history. By taking the quiz, you will have an opportunity to win a free book in the TIRF-Routledge series.
  3. We are planning a gala event to take place in Atlanta at the 2019 TESOL Convention. Stay tuned for further information!

With this Chair’s Report, I invite you to join me and my Board colleagues in celebrating TIRF’s contributions to our field over the past 20 years. I hope our newsletter readers will participate in our anniversary celebrations in the months ahead!

Best wishes,