Imagine you have just participated in a conference session that was so engaging you can’t wait to get back to your home campus to apply what you learned or adapt the content of the presentation in an innovative way in your unique setting. Or perhaps you challenged yourself as a result of that conference offering to better serve your students or staff with the new knowledge or skills you gained. Now imagine you arethat presenter who so stimulates attendees that you have a new thought-partner or a host of interested colleagues to share ideas and future trends with! NASPA 2019 in sunny LA is the place to have that kind of professional growth experience! We need you, our small college and university professionals, to light up the marquee in the City of Sunshine and Flowers with conference topics that will make our constituent colleagues better at the critical work we do and increasingly resourceful in our institutions that may be limited in size, scale, reach or budget strength.
Many recent NASPA communications have outlined the process for submitting a conference program proposal and I urge you to consider that win-win means of making a contribution to your professional association. Program submissions aren’t about making a one or two-year formal commitment to a role in your region or division—rather they constitute a “micro-volunteering” opportunity that just requires a spark of an idea that can be developed over the next month or so or a creative way of solving a problem that you think has the potential to aid someone else in a similar situation. Offer up a winner to the selection committee! You will learn a lot through the process and, who knows, you could have networked yourself into a whole new cadre of colleagues as your program idea takes shape! I hope you read the recent blog by Paul Raccanello entitled “Small AND Mighty.” Program submission could be another way to show that Might—help ensure that programs in the NASPA 2019 lineup reflect the significant proportion of institutions in the Small Colleges & Universities category so that our members will not want to miss NASPA’s foray into its second 100 years.
The core content areas of Belonging and Student Success, Community and Democratic Engagement and Leaning into the Next 100 Years allow a host of possibilities, so the wide expanse of southern California will be a great backdrop for innovative topics. You really do want to be a part of a new century of NASPA success! Maybe your residence life staff have a unique partnership with the academic advising team that reduces the likelihood that first year students will fall through the cracks. Or perhaps your institution has developed a distinct way to engage students in becoming contributing and compassionate citizens in the local community and beyond. September 4 is your target to submit the winning program proposal, so start planning now.
By the way, one of the NASPA conference sessions I remember most was offered in Phoenix in 2012. Under each chair in the presentation room was a card from the Creative Whack Pack creativity tool by Roger von Oech—used more to get participants engaged than as an exemplar of the program content—but it worked. I immediately went out and bought Creative Whack Pack and have found the tool useful in multiple settings over the past six years—that was a session that rocked! Maybe YOU can create one of those!
In addition to the upcoming annual conference, there are many ways to be involved in the Small Colleges & Universities Division. Sign up for the listserve, stay tuned in to Volunteer Central on the NASPA website for openings, stay current with your regional and division happenings and follow the SCU division on Twitter. In addition, you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org 440-826-2775. I welcome your feedback and ongoing part.
Dr. Trina Dobberstein serves as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH and as Director of the Small Colleges and Universities Division of NASPA.