Eduvation Blog

Recovering from Conference Season

Like most of academia, it seems, I’m addicted to conferences. And it would appear that everyone wants to attend those conferences in the two-month window between May, when most students leave our campuses for greener pastures of summer employment, and June, when our own kids get out of school for summer vacations. For most people, this means they try to attend one or two conferences in their area of specialization, or in their region.

In my role with Academica Group, though, there are a broad range of conferences relevant to policy research, institutional branding, recruitment and retention, advancement and alumni relations. And we’re interested in all regions of North America, so there are international, national, and regional conferences in each of these sectors. So I have spent the past two months flying from conference to conference, with a bit of client work and campus visits mixed in for good measure, and of course the daily routine of editingAcademica’s Top Ten each night.

In addition, this year my Academica Group colleagues Rod Skinkle, Phillip Bliss, Bruce Thompson, and the recently-formed social media team (Melissa Cheater, Chris Skinkle, and Alex Mazurewicz) have also fanned out to conferences across Canada and the US. We’re doing our best to share our experiences through blogs on this site, and to share the slides from our presentations in the “Resources” section. I’d welcome your feedback as to how well we’re doing at this, either by email ( or by commenting below.

Here’s a quick recap of the past two months for me:

Seattle – CASE Integrated Marketing and Branding Institute


The conference marathon began for me with a week in beautiful Seattle Washington. (If you’ve never gone, you should visit — it’s almost as beautiful as Vancouver.) I’ve already reported extensively on my impressions of the latest trends in branding and social media as exemplified by those presenting at the conference. (See my blog on the Seattle Institute.)

Loyalist College – “Carving New Pathways”


Then, back in Canada, I spent a couple of days in charming Belleville Ontario, where I presented a plenary session at a college educators’ conference at Loyalist College. The paper was entitled, “Getting inside their heads: Research Insights into College-Bound Students,” and it was a new twist for me, taking our research findings that are usually focused on government policy implications or student recruitment and branding insights, and trying to shape some implications for pedagogy in the classroom. (See the slides here.)

Halifax – AARAO Interchange


The next week, I was off to Halifax for the 2008 AARAO Interchange conference. It was my third time visiting with these folks, the regional guidance counsellors and admissions professionals in Atlantic Canada. In addition to presenting Academica’s Top Ten Live each morning, I presented a fast-paced and well-received talk summarizing what both sides of the audience should know about social media, “Connecting with the Facebook Generation.” It remains a good summary of what’s being done and could be emerging in Web 2.0. (See the slides here.)

Kelowna – CCAE Conference

In many ways, the three days I spent in Kelowna BC, attending the CCAE National conference, were comparatively calm. No slides to prepare, just some sessions to attend and an exhibit in the sponsor’s hall to meet people at. Ah, this must be what it’s like to just attend a conference!

After two more days working with branding clients in BC, I had the pleasure of a solid week back home in London before the next trip…

Halifax – ARUCC Conference


Then I headed right back across the country to Halifax again, for the national ARUCC conference of registrars and admissions professionals. This was my first time at ARUCC, although there were plenty of familiar faces there. In addition to the “Top Ten Live” each morning, I was honoured to present the final keynote of the conference, in which I tried to sum up 60 years of increasingly challenging circumstances for Canadian higher education. “Adjust Your Sails or be Blown Off Course” allowed me to go “overboard” on the nautical metaphors a bit, to discuss emerging trends that college and university leaders, marketers, and recruiters should understand and keep a vigilant eye on. A number of people in the audience asked me whether I’d be willing to deliver the talk again, so it must have come off fairly well.  (See the slides here.)

Still Ready for More…

So yes, 5 conferences in 6 weeks has taken a toll on my family life and my carbon footprint, but things will be comparatively quiet for the rest of the year. I still relish the opportunity to meet up with colleagues and clients wherever they are gathering, learn more about the latest developments in their work and share some of the exciting new developments at Academica Group. I’m always happy to discuss keynote opportunities at upcoming conferences — and particular preference will be given to requests for fall and winter events!

Thanks for reading!

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