President's Message - July 2019


To members,

 ….Here’s a question: Let's say a book club met together over a title about which the members were highly enthusiastic. And let's say they held an awesome, well orchestrated meeting: tasty food, fine drink, and conversation. Cool. Now, would you say that qualifies them for the role of Public Relations at Random House to oversee that book's commercial success: author readings, advertising, press releases, etc?

Because the USTA is a non-profit, we sort of operate that way, from the vantage point of promoting education in the marketplace. It’s undertaken by a revolving door of us book club (Trager) enthusiasts. For good measure, stir into that an independent faculty and a do-it-yourself model of producing classes among our noble member-class organizers. And, while we have a president of the board, and an executive director, there really is no true leader that can oversee all facets of the organization’s functioning synergistically. We're like a hanging mobile. And while it can be more finely tuned, if you try too hard to balance or equalize the constellation of a mobile, you disturb its tensegrity!

Now, in reality, this ratchety set up worked damn well with the addition of one small ingredient…. Milton Trager! When he was alive, and even for some years after, his name and person was sufficient to attract full classes and a thriving membership, covering any deficiencies in the organizational and educational model. But as name recognition of Trager cannot be counted on to magically attract students, some of the warts are more apparent. We clearly we need a more agile model of education and outreach to truly support all our members: our faculty, class organizers, students, and everyone coming in the future.

I’m not saying this organizational structure is without upsides. This organization is unique in that it belongs to all of us and we all have a voice. We all carry and contribute an important piece of the whole of Trager. And that bestows a unique gift, responsibility, and creates a special community. And, in truth, our organization is becoming more finely tuned. The faculty has streamlined its procedures, the USTA continues to streamline its costs and procedures while embarking on new, important projects; the many other volunteers, such as the conference committee, continue to elevate Trager by their intelligent devotion dedication and action. So many good trends are happening. 

I am not advocating for a any one particular change beyond full acceptance that our model for growth: 'if we hold a class, they will come,’ without Milton to grease the wheels, is an inadequate approach for today’s potential students. We need to move out of the shadow of that model. Momentum has clearly swung in a more positive direction everywhere in our organization. Let’s accelerate; let’s work together; let’s work in synergy with the different facets of our organization. Let’s see where we can go.

Thanks for all you do,

Joseph Rodin

President, USTA