Reflections on My Chat with ACPA President Gavin Henning

SAC Podcast I recently interviewed ACPA President Gavin Henning for The Student Affairs Spectacular Podcast which went out as a quick bonus episode in addition to our usual offerings. It was a great opportunity that I am grateful to have had.

Gavin has been making himself very accessible recently, which is very refreshing in my opinion. Usually, someone in his position would seem to be very out of reach, but Gavin has been giving much of time to do interviews, Twitter chats, and even the podcast! I hope that student affairs folks have been engaging with all of this great content, since it allows for the veil to be lifted on how someone gets to be ACPA President in the first place, and humanizes the whole organization. Accessibility and transparency are big for me, and I appreciate when leadership embodies these values.

I think more organizations should take a cue from ACPA and their recent efforts. You can engage a community a lot more by being free and open with communication versus having everything tightly controlled and infrequent. ACPA has been my professional home of choice for the past few years as I've entered the field, and while I think no one is perfect, they've done a lot of great work recently that I know has benefited the field.

While I don't think I'll be pursuing the ACPA presidency any time soon, it is nice to know more of Gavin's story and that if you work hard and commit to something, good things will come out of it. Things like that are reassuring to hear for a young professional like myself.

Check out some of the other interviews Gavin has done with some fine colleagues, Kimberly White and Brian Proffer (also both are past guests of the podcast!).

Thanks for stopping by!

What is the Value of National Student Affairs Conferences?

'Worth' highlighted, under 'Value' ACPA

Conference Registration = $600 (less if done earlier, $450 for early bird)

ACPA Membership = $93-149 (2013-14 Membership Rates from ACPA)


Conference Registration = $480 (less if done earlier, $430 for early bird)

NASPA Membership = $75-242


Hotel = $200/night (average for Tampa, higher for New Orleans)

Airfare = $200-700 (depends on several variables)

Total (average, estimated) = $1,900 cost per conference + food, parking, taxis, and misc. items

I'll be honest, I thought this would be a lot higher. While it could be a tad higher depending on individual variables, and food could also be a huge expense, I envisioned costs being much higher (and they most likely will be especially for ACPA in Montreal next year). With that being said, a lot of folks are not going to be able to just drop this sort of money on a conference without any sort of assistance. Many of us are going to have our own homes and families to keep afloat and a national student affairs conference (which has had dwindling returns and value in my opinion) just will not make the cut when there are plenty of cheaper (or free) and better professional development options out there. This goes too for the webinars I've seen out there for student affairs folks. Why are they so expensive? Is it assumed multiple people are sitting in on one registration? Isn't it just someone doing a presentation virtually? It seems absurd to me that it needs to cost professionals hundreds of dollars for at times just an hour presentation.

I'm very grateful to be able to have had the support of my institution to go to a national conference. This is a rarity though (especially to have most everything covered) and not to be assumed to be available to most folks. I presentedĀ at ACPA and appear to be one of a few in my Student Life office going to any conferences this year. I'm not competing for this funding with anyone so I haven't had to valiantly prove why I deserve to go.

I think what this high cost results in is an insular, privileged, select group of people that can afford conferences or are lucky enough to have their institution support them. This ends up with us having the usual suspects at conferences and leaving a lot of other amazing professionals out of the inner circles. It comes across as clique-y and oft-putting for people from the outside. What these conferences always do best is bring people together but it isn't doing too well at that if it is the same cohort of people coming together all the time. We need more voices included in these discussions. This will add value and return on investment for sessions, committees, and the entire experience when there is more diversity of perspective from different institutions and people from different backgrounds.

I've been wanting to capture my thoughts on this for a while now. I gave it a fair amount of consideration before posting and I appreciate any insight from others who may have planned conferences or just have something to share. I think this is a valid discourse to have so I felt it important to put forth my thoughts here. We need to do better to bring people in for these opportunities to move our profession forward. It seems like we all could really use it.

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 03/13/15


Hey there! Here's what is going on in my world:

  • Spring Break

This week has been Spring Break for my institution, which has meant having a quieter campus and more free time coming off the whirlwind weekend of ACPA. I've been able to sleep in a bit, catch up on work, and spend time with my partner. I appreciate this time before the race to the end of the semester in less than two months, which is wild. The end of my first academic year as a full-time professional is near!

  • Lost

My partner and I have been watching this show (mostly) together. I've seen it all many times but she was watching the entire series for the first time. It's one of my favorite shows of all time and it's been really nice to share it with her. I can share something I'm passionate about with her and we can bond over the show, which is a huge thing for me. We'll have to start on another show here soon but in the meantime, we'll still have our other shows that are currently on the air like The Walking Dead, Agent Carter, and Agents of SHIELD.

  • Reflections from ACPA 2015

I mentioned ACPA before, and while I've shared some thoughts on my podcast, I wanted to write some additional thoughts here. I'm planning on writing a more thorough post on conferences in general, but I'm still conflicted at times with how I feel about these big conferences. There is value in the connections and networking but the costs can be exorbitant for professionals and especially for students. It is hard to justify for me and maybe I'm just at a different point in my life having just started working full-time and not being willing to pay for a conference as I try to build a foundation for my life. I have a lot of other thoughts on this in relation to how sessions are handled for example. I look forward to getting that out for you all to read.

Thanks for stopping by!

What I Was Geeking Out About This Week - 03/06/15


Hey there! Here's what is going on in my world:

  • Tampa

So I am officially in Tampa today for ACPA 2015. This city is gorgeous and it was nice to get to my hotel, clean myself up, and walk outside in shorts in 80 degree weather! The area here around the convention center is very nice and I'm looking forward to exploring a bit more this weekend. I've taken a few photos already and I'll take a bunch more. I'll post them on my Facebook and some on my Instagram (check my "About" page if we aren't connected already!).

  • Changemakers

I recently wrote a post surrounding the topic of my presentation here at ACPA, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to talk about this subject matter that I am very invested in. I just want to give specific thanks to Krista Kohlmann for being a big part of making this happen in the first place and making the presentation a success (it hasn't happened yet technically as of writing this post but I know it will be awesome!). Check us out if you're at the convention and check out the #ACPA15 and #RUChangemakers hashtags on Twitter to follow along on the discussion.

  • Travel

I had a very long day yesterday with traveling down here to Tampa from Maine. My day started at 3am when I had to drive two hoursĀ to the airport in Portland, ME (only place I could get good flights out of), then take two connecting flights totaling around 4+ hours, and then once I got here, the convention kicked off already and everything was happening. Thankfully I had some time to check into my room, shower, and then go check in for the conference and bump into some lovely people right as I was getting in, which was serendipitously welcoming for me as I just got in. I don't mind travel too much, but I just wish I could have gotten a direct flight down here. I'm not a fan of connecting myself.

Thanks for stopping by!

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 01/23/15


Hey there! Here is what's going on in my world!

I've finally got to booking everything (with the help of my institution) for my trip. I'm excited to check out Tampa and have a bit of a professional vacation as it were. I'll be presenting at the conference with my colleague from Rutgers, Krista Kohlmann, about our Rutgers Changemakers initiative that I had the privilege of working on with her. I recently had a thought (especially since last year's convention) about how expensive these endeavors can be for professionals so I think I'm going to try to quantify my trip to give a glimpse of how inaccessible these conferences are for the average professional (and graduate student or undergraduate student even). Be on the look out for this blog post to come!

  • Spring Semester

I had a wonky and long weekend here at my institution, as we had RA training, spring move-in, and spring orientation all over the span of a few days. This whole past week has felt long and I haven't been in the same groove with the blog as I had been the first few weeks of this month. Once I have the weekend to recuperate and devote to some upcoming posts, I'll be back with it. I am excited to get back to work and see my first spring semester here. The fall was an interesting glimpse into parts of the higher ed world I haven't seen or been a part of before. I feel like I'm learning new things all the time and developing my professional demeanor with every meeting and decision I am making. I definitely need to reflect on this first year once it is all said and done!

  • Adulting

Something I have had the chance to do recently (even with the aforementioned wonkiness) is buy some things for my place to make it feel a little more like home. I've hung up some more stuff on the walls (courtesy of my lovely partner), and I ordered some furniture from IKEA (a first for me). For some reason I always grumble about getting stuff like this or delay needlessly but once I get the stuff and put it up, it makes me happier. I suppose I am content with what I have and don't think I need anything else, but once I have the new thing, I can appreciate it. I think I'll need to get better with this since I have a lot of old stuff that needs replacing or just more adult things like better cookware, furniture, and better bedding.

Thanks for stopping by!