Debrief from 2011 UPCEA Conference

Just two short weeks ago I landed in Toronto for what turned out to be the fastest week of my life, beginning with committee and board meetings and ending with our annual banquet and our CEO’s town hall meeting.  It was a great week — time to catch up with old friends, meet new friends, and in between do a little professional development.

There were a number of firsts at this year’s conference:

-the first time we provided a live video stream of multiple conference sessions.  Did you know that we had people attend the conference without leaving their offices?

-the first New and Aspiring Leadership pre-conference session. Did you know that Judy Ashcroft graduated more than 30 people from the 2011 New and Aspiring Leaders Certificate Program?

-the first time that Shaeffer was ever allowed to use a gavel without supervision. Did you know that Judy presented a gavel to our CEO along with a stand that has the names of current leaders as well as space for those leaders to come? Did you also know that I presented Judy with a commemorative gavel of thanks for her leadership? There were gavels all over the place!

We had three excellent speakers:

-In The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World, Ben Wildavsky argued we need to think about brain circulation, not brain drain

-Sherry Turkle reminded us that our machines, cell phones, and other devices were intended to facilitate communication with each other, not drive us apart and isolate us

-I learned from Eric Liu, author of Imagination First, that we should become the association of “Yes, and” rather than “But…”. Did you know the next time you make a mistake, you should stand up, throw out your arms and chest, and say loudly “Isn’t that fascinating!”

We also saw leadership in action:

-Many thanks to Judy Ashcroft and Jenny Stine and their committee for planning such a great conference.  Do you know which of the committee members was late because of a forgotten passport?

-Many thanks to the Commissions and the COPs for the inspirational and informative sessions. Did you know that our outgoing COP Council chair had a tremendous adventure with two cool guys to the NHL Hall of Fame?

-Many thanks to all our business and industry partners for their on-going support of our association and our field. Did you know that our CEO held the first town hall with our partner vendors in Toronto?

-Many thanks to our UPCEA National Office: Bob, Lori, Cyrus, Karen, Kandace, Megan, Liz, and Zack, you did a great job behind the scenes making everything run smoothly.  Did you know that Cyrus is retiring after attending 25 UPCEA conferences? Congratulations, Cyrus — we will miss you.

I want to pause and say thank you to UPCEA’s past presidents.  In Toronto we celebrated our 96th conference as an association; the fact that UPCEA continues to be a leading association is due to the dedication of our membership and because of the willingness of our past presidents to give freely of their time and expertise.

UPCEA’s 96th Annual Conference was a great success.  And now it is time to move forward on our strategic plan for our association and begin the process of planning the 97th Annual Conference in Portland.  I feel very lucky to have David Schejbal from the University of Wisconsin Extension to lead the planning for the annual meeting.  With David’s leadership and with the help of our planning committee and the National Office I have every confidence that I will be debriefing a year from now on another successful UPCEA Annual Conference.

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