Sync or Swim?

I spent five days in Florida over the last couple of weeks.  I started at the ACHE meeting in Orlando ( and then was off to the UPCEA South Regional Meeting in the Grand Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

A couple of asides before reflecting on a great South Regional meeting.  Did you know that one of the most efficient ways to get from Orlando to Sandestin is to fly through Houston? Really.  I also can’t believe that I had back-to-back meetings at golf resorts in Florida and no golf was played by moi.

The South Regional Meeting was held at the Grand Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, and let me tell you, you can underline golf and resort.  It is just a beautiful spot and the facilities were excellent.  High praise goes to Carroll Scherer and her planning committee for putting together great content for the meeting, and many thanks to the crew from the University of West Florida for their skillful handling of the on site logistics.  The meeting truly was flawless.

The theme for the meeting was Sink or Swim:  Sustainability through Innovation.  In my presentation at the meeting I suggested that the theme could be modified slightly to be Sync or Swim.  I believe that if we don’t “sync up” with our fellow UPCEA colleagues, with like-minded professional associations and with our vendor partners, we miss opportunities for our voices to be heard.  The perfect example is the Summit for Online Learning that was the result of collaboration between UPCEA, ACHE, WECT, and Sloan C, and with support from EDUCAUSE.  Clearly the combined voices of our associations have a greater potential to be heard.

We have many challenges moving not only our online programs forward (e.g., new federal regulations, misperceptions of quality of online programs, etc.) but we have similar challenges with many of the other professional and continuing education programs we offer.  One of the measures of effective associations is to pursue alliances that relate to existing strategies or that forms a tight fit with their mission and purpose. ( We are all better served when we sync with our colleagues and work as partners.  It may be as simple as Sync or Sink.

I want to again thank Region South for hosting a great conference and many thanks to those who presented and to our vendor community for your insights and assistance.  I had the opportunity to have three staff members attend the meeting.  This was possible in part because of the generosity of our colleague Chuck Havlicek from ACEWare and his support of scholarships to UPCEA Regional meetings.  I’ve asked each of them to add a few words about their experience below.

I will start it out; my favorite part as you may guess was the opportunity to sync with my friends and colleagues in the South Region.

Carol: I’ve always enjoyed attending UPCEA’s conferences and this one was no exception. UPCEA South is made up of an array of people, those who have been in CE for many years and those who just joined the profession. This creates a great atmosphere to share and learn from one another. The networking that goes on between those in universities and colleges as well as with partnering vendors is invaluable to my own professional development. The best thing about UPCEA South is that these colleagues have become friends, and you can never have too many of those.

Sarah: One highlight (of many) for me was the Town Hall session where Bob Hansen presented the association’s Strategic Plan. The transparency of this process and the many opportunities to gather ideas and share feedback have helped create a vibrant and visionary strategic plan that I think will serve us well. (And of course I enjoyed talking with and learning from friends and partners, but everyone else already said that!)

Lindsay: This was my first UPCEA conference and it was a great experience! I was most struck by the incredible camaraderie among the CE professionals in our region and the positive energy of the group. My fellow attendees were clearly there with the expectation to learn from the presenters and from one another and to innovate their programs and organizations. I am very thankful for the scholarship provided by ACEWare that allowed me this wonderful professional development experience!


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