Certification & the Membership Designation Working Group
Dear AIC Members,
We are writing in response to discussions on specialty group email lists and on social media platforms regarding certification and peer-reviewed status in AIC. As many of you know, AIC has formed an official working group whose charge—working in tandem with the Membership Committee and the Education and Training Committee—is to review past certification efforts, to evaluate current membership categories, and to generate a proposal for strengthening our membership categories to better promote AIC members and the profession. We are happy to hear that many are enthusiastic about advancing these efforts and look forward to continued engagement from all our members.
Over the past few years, representatives from the Education and Training Committee, the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network, and the Membership Committee, with input from the AIC staff and board have sought ways to respond to the increasing complexity of our field, including the expanded professional roles of the conservator, the collaboration with allied professionals, and the need to support both emerging and established conservators in the private practice realm.
In discussions centered around the need to strengthen and promote our professional peer-review member categories, it became clear that the criteria for our membership categories do not adequately reflect the professional roles of conservators today—challenging both the peer-review process itself, and our ability to define the profession to the service-seeking public. Discussions with AIC members at the annual business meeting have demonstrated support for a re-evaluation of our membership categories and their eligibility criteria as well as the exploration of a continued professional education component to strengthen possible new member designations.
In light of recent discussions about certification and to ensure that all voices are considered in this ongoing effort, a sub-group of the Working Group will assist AIC through continued research into certification programs.
It is our sincere hope that all AIC members will feel included as this work moves forward. We are very much interested in the concerns our members face professionally and what AIC can do to help. A venue for member-wide discussions is forthcoming. In the meantime, please take the time to re-visit AIC’s past certification efforts and reach out to us directly if you have any questions.
With all best wishes,
Pamela Hatchfield, AIC Board President, on behalf of the AIC Board of Directors
February 28, 2017
Past Board Letters On Certification
There has been a growing discussion among members lately about certification, a topic that has been the subject of vigorous debate a number of times in the history of AIC. We want to offer some important context for this conversation. As articles, surveys, and communications regarding certification span multiple decades, AIC has created the following web page to outline previous certification initiatives in one convenient location. Please visit the site to learn more.
We also want to highlight the recent creation of the Membership Designation working group. The working group’s charge will include a re-assessment of certification for the field. Following evaluation of AIC’s membership and the environment in which members practice, the working group will also propose a plan to address member concerns and increase awareness of professional standards in the field. We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with you throughout the process.
President, AIC Board of Directors
February 10, 2017
2009 Campaign and Results
AIC has responded to member calls for certification many times since the 1970s, and more robustly in the last two decades. In 2009, AIC created a full plan for a certification system, on which AIC members were asked to vote. The vote of 73% of eligible members opposing the proposed certification model by 58.6% sent a strong, but not a united, message.
In 2014, AIC gathered materials that provide a record of the process undertaken by AIC between 2000 and 2009 to develop a certification program for conservators. The 2009 vote by members for certification was unsuccessful. Contents include AIC News articles dating back to 2000, descriptions of the certification process, and the final vote, as well as results from surveys taken in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Please read this pdf to understand the full history of our most recent certification effort.
You can also view the survey results separately here:
2009 Letter from the Board and Executive Director
Over the past several years, while pursuing a certification program, we have learned a great deal about our organization, our members, and the changing environment in which we work. The vote of 73% of eligible members opposing the proposed certification model by 58.6% sent a strong, but not a united, message. The reasons many members voted against the proposed program varied widely. Many expressed concerns such as the very meaning of what it is to be a conservator, the viability of our core documents, the strength of our literature, and the effectiveness of peer review. Other members felt just as strongly that certification is a critical step in advancing the field. AIC is still a young and feisty organization and so many of the frustrations and “calls to action” heard are the growing pains of an organization of intelligent, passionate professionals.
What is absolutely essential now is to learn from this process and mine from it all that was accomplished in gathering information and materials over the years. The leadership of AIC must clearly articulate plans to provide additional support for members and promote the field of conservation. We also need our members to engage in this process by providing constructive input along the way.
During the years that AIC explored the possibilities of a certification program, the staff and board have also been engaged in many other efforts. Great strides have been made to improve internal operations, member communications, and outreach. For the first time, advocacy for the field has been instituted at AIC, and this work will grow and be refined in the coming years. We are now on the verge of undertaking several new or expanded outreach efforts. Areas on which we are focusing include, among others, marketing, publications, education, and use of technology.
Throughout 2009, particularly as part of the Transforming FAIC initiative, we will be creating a strategic plan for FAIC and developing priorities that will be built into work plans and budgets.
We will soon begin a more intense process to engage our members in dialogs on specific topics. Surveys are a cost-effective way to gauge the opinions of our members; however, they are only as good as the number of members who respond. Over the next year, a series of surveys to gather facts and opinions will be sent to members. We also plan to reach out to individual members to participate in small group conference call conversations on selected topics. We rely on your participation to help guide us into the future and to provide the information needed to represent you effectively.
—The AIC Board of Directors and the AIC/FAIC Executive Director