This conference will both pay homage to the history of the association and welcome (as we do every year) the bright future of our profession. Each year we have over 100 first time delegates who join us at the annual conference. Can you please stand up so we can welcome you?
As someone who was in your very shoes ten years ago I want to encourage you to make the most of every minute of this conference. I attended my first GLACUHO only one of two people from my home institution. I literally knew no one except my co-worker. I had to branch out, meet new people, try new things. It was here among this association that I found my professional home. I left the conference eager to return to my home campus and try to implement the new resources that I learned about in the program sessions. I was hooked.
I know that a major reason why I felt such affinity to this organization was the people I met. No one cared that I was straight out of undergrad and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Age didn’t matter, position didn’t matter. Every person—from graduate students to senior housing officers were available to meet and learn from and with. Take this opportunity to meet people who may be come your colleagues supervisors or friends someday 🙂 Because of people like Robbie, Julie, Laurie, and Scott and their personal investment and support of me (among so many others) I am here tonight. For our first time delegates—people like Katie Madison, Jeremy Wright, Marykatherine Woodson, Shannon Healy and Martise Cooks–I wish that for you–I hope that someday you feel the same way.
And what a first conference to start your professional journey! Throughout this conference we will highlight our history as an association while keeping a steady eye on the future. GLACUHO’s history is one of being a progressive, inclusive, and pro-active organization.
The opening speech sets the tone for the conference and gives you something to think about over the next few days. For our new folks and for our professionals returning to GLACUHO for the 2nd, 6th or 20th time I want to ask you to think about this question—Who are you here for?
With budget cuts slashing our professional development budgets and travel being restricted like never before you all still managed to be here. This does not go unnoticed. Because we are privileged to be at this conference it is even more important than ever that we showcase why universities should continue to support regional associations. It is critical to bring back something of value to our campuses. In order to do that you must again ask yourself—Who are you here for?
This answer may change as you progress in your career. I know who I was here for during my first GLACUHO conference—my student leaders! I was appointed to be the Director of the Vagina Monologues at Albion College and I had no idea how to manage a large group of student leaders and put on a stage production. But I attended a few fantastic advising sessions at GLACUHO 2002 that helped me to create a vision for the organization and empower my student leaders to succeed. At that GLACUHO I knew I was there for students like Amber and Katie who were my student coordinators for the play. I left that conference better equipped to empower them in their roles and I felt more confident as an advisor.
Who are you here for?
In future years I came to GLACUHO for my RA’s. People like Catherine, Jared, Carly, Angie, Craig and 42 other RA’s during my time as an RD. Sessions about creating collateral assignments for RA’s and implementing innovative ways to program in my honors and upper-class communities helped me to bring back tangible resources for our building. These are student leaders who want to make a difference in their communities and I have an obligation to provide them with the tools for success.
Who are you here for?
Part of our roles as housing professionals is to develop the next generation of practitioners. In later years I would come to GLACUHO for my fantastic grad students. It was important for me to help Chris and Todd transition in and out of their roles as GA’s and attending roundtables about graduate student supervision gave me a new network of people to share ideas and best practices with.
Who are you here for?
In my current role I have the opportunity to supervise full-time professionals while also being responsible for the recruitment of new RD’s. My time at GLACUHO is now spent meeting future RD’s, learning ways to support my staff as well as developing skills for the next professional level. As a mid-level professional I also have a responsibility to present program sessions that could benefit our membership. As we move up, we may have different roles but we should always ask who we are here for and how we can use our time wisely in order to have the most impact on our home campuses.
I know I have definitely been on the receiving end of care and mentorship throughout my career. When I was a college student my on-campus supervisor asked me if I would be a volunteer for an event for an organization that she was working with. Little did I know that she was doing more than “working with” this organization that seemed to have a funny name. It was 1999, my supervisor was Marlene Kowalski-Braun, she was serving in the role of Past President, the organization was GLACUHO and the location of the conference was the Amway Grand Plaza. Marlene has served as a confidant, mentor and friend to me for over a decade and it is a privilege for me to stand here in this very room where she once stood. Marlene has been “here for me” over the years and has been a good role model to always keep our students and staff at the forefront of what we do on our campuses and off.
Who are you here for?
So tell me, text me, tweet me—answer this question for yourself, then share it with others! Please think about that question and let it be the guiding force as you think about what program sessions to attend and what opportunities you take advantage of at the conference.
Speaking of tweeting, you may have noticed this Twiterfall behind me. It should be no surprise that social media has been booming in student affairs conferences across the country over the past couple of years. Over 500 people currently follow our @glacuho Twitter account. If you are on Twitter feel free to tweet about your experience using the hashtag #glacuho. Even Jody Stone does it, so you know it has to be legit. 🙂
Tweet about what you like about the conference, what we should think about for GLACUHO 2012 and what you have learned here in Grand Rapids.
Thank you and enjoy the conference!