The Mid-America Association for Institutional Research (MidAIR) is a regional organization of institutional researchers from Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The origin of MidAIR is in an organization founded in 1980 by Deborah Teeter and John Schott (University of Kansas), as the Middle States Regional Institutional Research Conference, which had its first meeting in November of that year in Lawrence, Kansas. In 1981 the name was changed to the Mid-America Regional Institutional Research Conference. In 1981 and 1982, the group met in Lawrence, and in 1983, the conference was held in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1984, the conference became the Mid-America Association for Institutional Research and formally affiliated with the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). MidAIR adopted a written constitution and by-laws in 1986 and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization under the laws of the State of Kansas on July 30, 1991.
The primary objectives of MidAIR have remained the same since its inception: 1) improve and disseminate research of concern to institutions of higher education, 2) provide a collegium of persons in a common profession, 3) provide an avenue for professional accomplishment by offering an annual fall conference at which professional contributions may be made through paper presentations, workshops, seminars, and other activities, 4) encourage association with AIR and promote AIR Forums and other activities, and 5) encourage professional identification, development, and renewal.
In addition to providing an opportunity to get together at the fall conference, MidAIR has hosted a special interest group (SIG) at the AIR Forum since 1984. On the average, approximately 25-35 MidAIR members attend these SIG sessions.
The treasurer and database management functions were conducted by University of Kansas (KU) staff under the direction of Deb Teeter from MidAIR’s inception until 1996, at which time these functions were turned over to Julia Duckwall at Johnson County Community College (JCCC). Beginning in fall of 1988, in recognition of this contribution to MidAIR, the Board of Directors (which was called the steering committee until 1992 when MidAIR was incorporated) approved a waiver of each fall’s conference registration to two members of the KU Institutional Research and Planning staff. These waivers were subsequently provided to JCCC after the treasurer and database management functions were passed on in 1996.
Two joint meetings have been arranged over the years to enhance the professional development and networking opportunities of MidAIR members. The first was held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in fall of 1991 with members of the Southern Association for Institutional Research (SAIR) and the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP). In 1995 a second joint meeting was held in Des Moines, Iowa with members of the Association for Institutional Research of the Upper Midwest (AIRUM).
In December of 1992 the decision was made to create an association newsletter with two issues per year. The first issue was published in March 1993 with Dana Rosenberg of Eastern Iowa Community College District as editor. Dana served in this capacity until fall of 1995 when Kelli Cox of Kansas State University took over these duties. The editor was considered an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors. The newsletter was abolished in 1998, and thereafter, the MidAIR listserv was utilized to communicate with members.
Over the summer of 1993 members were surveyed to ascertain their perception of the fall conference and their interest in specific topics to be addressed at future conferences. A total of 104 current and 168 potential members were surveyed, resulting in 32 surveys completed by members (31%) and 19 by nonmembers (11%). In the fall of 2001, a similar survey was again conducted. The survey was sent to approximately 96 members via an attached Excel document to an e-mail memo. Forty-eight members (50%) responded to the survey.
Over time, several types of recognition and assistance for MidAIR members have been implemented. The Joe Saupe Award was initiated in 1988 to formally recognize the best first-time MidAIR presenter, and in 1993 a “best paper” award was initiated to recognize the best paper presented at MidAIR by other than a first-time presenter. Since 1988, up to two travel grants of $300 each have been available to MidAIR members to help defray AIR Forum expenses. Because applications for these grants have been sparse, in 2001, the Board began offering two travel grants of $150 each to help defray expenses to the annual MidAIR Fall Conference.
In 1995 Ryan Cherland of the University of Kansas created a MidAIR home page on the World Wide Web and a listserv to enhance electronic communication of members with access to e-mail. The Web page contains the MidAIR Constitution, By-laws, Articles of Incorporation, a listing of the Board of Directors, and a directory of current members.
In 2005, David Murphy volunteered to serve as the Electronic Services Manager for the year. Changes to the bylaws in 2006 classified the position as a non-voting ex-officio position.
In 2006, the members elected to pass several changes to the constitution and bylaws of the organization. Wording changes were made to the constitution to replace the term “Steering Committee” with “Board of Directors”. Several changes to the bylaws were passed to: a) explicitly permit electronic voting; b) change the Treasurer position to a non-voting ex-officio member; c) add the position of Electronic Services Coordinator as a non-voting ex-officio member; and d) remove the Treasurer as a position elected by the Board.
Also in 2006, electronic/online proposal submission and conference registration was implemented through the AIR website.
In 2006, the solicitation and awarding of travel grants to the MidAIR conference was stopped and instead those funds were made available to the winner of the MidAIR Best Paper award to defray their travel costs to the AIR forum.
In 2007, vendors were invited to the MidAIR annual conference for the first time.
The first ever Julia Duckwall award was presented to Dr. Charles Van Middlesworth of Metropolitan Community Colleges at the 2007 Conference.