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February

The New Year is a time most people make resolutions, or plans to do better in the coming year. Some resolutions fall by the wayside, but even the time reflecting on a failed resolution helps define problems and solutions. As I reflect on the Academy over the past year it is clear the AAUS is making progress on our 2015-20 Strategic Plan (Resource Library, Publications, Strategic Plan), although there is still more to do. One area that continues to trouble me is our messaging with stakeholders and/or user groups. Specifically, our communication of “who we are”, “what we do”, and “why we do it”.

We have spent a lot of time over the years talking about AAUS revenue and resource sustainability, and we have enacted measures to further this goal. Dues have increased to offset current expenditures, the BOD is working on a business plan, and the AAUS Foundation is pursuing new funding opportunities. But I would argue that we will not be successful in our broader goal to achieve fiscal stability without a stronger and more proactive “message” for our user groups. The AAUS is growing, and just like a business, that growth must be supported by advertisement of a consistent/defining message. It is not enough for us to know that the AAUS trains and supports the next generation of underwater scientist, or that AAUS has facilitated in excess of $155M in research over the past 5 years, or that AAUS has developed protocols and innovations that have furthered the evolution of the industry resulting in the safest diving community in existence. We need to communicate this message to the diving scientists, to their administrations, to the funding agencies, and to the public at large.

I think the current website is a step in the right direction; some of the messaging has been front-loaded to the home page to tell our story. But our messaging requires a multi-pronged approach. We need more advocacy (in fact, this is in the Strategic Plan), and while I beg for volunteers about once a month, I’ll ask again- anyone who is particularly interested in serving on an Advisory/Advocacy Panel, please contact Heather, ASAP. We also need to keep our message front and center; this requires a significant investment in time relative to social media platforms, AND CONTENT! Our newest BOD member, Jonathan Langham, is working with our Secretary, Jessica Keller, and a dedicated committee to “market” the AAUS via “millennial outreach approaches”. However, each and every AAUS member must commit to getting content to this group so the world can learn about our accomplishments!!!

You can access AAUS social media platforms at:
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanAcademyofUnderwaterSciences/
https://www.facebook.com/aausfoundation/
https://www.instagram.com/aaus.scientific.diving/?hl=en
https://twitter.com/aaus?lang=en

As always, thanks for your continued support of the Academy, and I look forward to our sustainable growth and success in the coming year.

Marc Slattery
University of Mississippi

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