Volume 84 | Issue 5
September/October 2016

From the President: Happy Regional Conference Season

J. Scott Derrick
J. Scott DerrickI hope that the beginning of the school year has been both invigorating and incident-less for everyone! While it is in September that you are most likely reading this surely Pulitzer-worthy monologue (yeah, right), it is amid the super heat wave of July that I am actually writing it, so pardon me for a moment while I adjust my mindset to something other than the feeling that outside my door is something akin to the interior of an active volcano. Or the surface of the sun. Just one more moment … almost there … okay, now I am good. I think I can almost smell the first frost around the corner and in my mind envision the leaves beginning to change color. Why, I believe fall is indeed in the air!

With that in mind, I’m looking forward to the upcoming regional conference season that begins in early October and proceeds through roughly mid-November. Whether you are a regional conference veteran or attending for the first time, I know that you are just as excited as I am to meet together in one of eight spectacular host cities to share stories with old friends, make new ones, soak in the high-end educational content, find great resources through our business partners, tour amazing student unions, and simply spend time with others who face the same successes and struggles that you do every day in this wondrous field in which we work. While the annual conference presents all that ACUI has to offer on a grand scale over an extended time period, the regional conferences give us a chance to experience those same ACUI “perks” in a more intimate setting and a more compact time period. The regional conferences, then, from Lowell, Mass., to Lincoln, Neb., to Berkeley, Calif., and around the United States, will serve to whet our appetites, preparing us for a feast in Philadelphia in March.

With the realignment of regions that took place in the last several years, it was intentional that regional lines be more fluid than ever before to give schools the flexibility to attend conferences that were not necessarily in their designated region but that might be more cost-effective, due to proximity, to attend. Imagine your president’s eyebrow raising, much like Mr. Spock’s, when I realized that the Region III conference, where my institution would normally attend, was in Mobile, Ala., more than 500 miles away. After a bit more research, I found that the Region VII conference in Pittsburgh was actually closer to drive … a mere 450 miles away! So, which one will the University of North Carolina–Charlotte attend? I have no idea. My point, though, is that we have a choice, based on distance, cost, and other factors, and so do you. So I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, look at a regional conference opportunity that might be outside your normal attendance paradigm, and, if it works for you, take your staff and students to a place where you can meet new friends, bring back new ideas, and generally take advantage of all the opportunities that ACUI might afford you outside your traditional region. Let me know how it goes!

And finally, you might ask, what does the Board of Trustees do during regional conference season? Do we gather together in our ivory tower, sip mochas by the fire from bone china teacups, get Swedish massages that make our toes tingle, binge watch House of Cards, and generally dissociate at the manor as the rest of the Association attends regional conferences? Why, heck no! Each board member will be attending at least one regional conference this year, and they will be working for that region in whatever capacity they are needed while there. Whether presenting educational sessions, keynoting, bringing updates to the attendees, or simply participating integrally in the conference with everyone else, the board will be there for you. Each regional conference will have at least one board member in attendance, so make sure you find them and let them know your thoughts, concerns, suggestions, successes, and funny stories. Especially the funny stories. I will be attending the Region I conference at Berkeley, as well as Region III in Mobile, so I hope to catch up with you there.

I hope you have a happy conference season, and I hope it brings you all the things you need to propel you forward into an even bigger and better year. Sadly, I have to go back to the reality of the scorching summer heat, but just thinking about what awaits us in the coming months makes it all worthwhile. Thanks. J. Scott … OUT!