Prepare for a Meaningful Experience.

We are quickly approaching the 2012 NASPA Annual Conference in Phoenix. The planning committee has nearly completed its work of organizing for a meaningful experience for conference attendees.  The conference program will offer stimulating, engaging, and provocative sessions, while our slate of keynote and featured speakers will enlighten, educate, and arouse our hearts and minds. We believe the program reflects the dominant issues that are commanding our attention today and will attract our energy in the future.

A few random thoughts leading up to the conference…

  • The magical place that is Phoenix will offer opportunities to feel the spirit of the Southwest.  We are excited to share with you the outcomes of our efforts and all that we have learned about the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona in the course of our planning.
  • When you see Gwen Dungy, please thank her for her remarkable leadership during her time as executive director of NASPA.
  • There is one event for which I am personally very excited.  On Tuesday, March 13, we will hold a Candlelight Vigil from 8:00-9:00 p.m.  This will provide an opportunity to convey hope for our world, as well as engage in sober reflection about the places where we need to engage in healing and restorative work.  We will have the opportunity to express our spiritual solidarity with the people of Arizona who work for dignity and humanity, as well as an opportunity to both honor the social movement for justice that has evolved in Arizona and share our voices and commitment to those involved in the struggle. Please try to attend.
  • Visit “Exploring Immigration Issues Through Art,” the incredible work of Claudia Ramirez Islas.
  • Tweet and retweet.
  • As we have planned for the conference and reached out to community-based organizations in the State, they have consistently reminded us that Arizona is not a static environment – they have not been sitting passively waiting for groups that visit Arizona to come to their aid.  They ask that we respectfully acknowledge their efforts and not regard them as victims.  They ask that we not treat their issues as “quick-fix” issues that can be taken up for five days and then be left behind.  In so many ways this is not unlike the unspoken requests that accompany our work with students who have been confronted with incredible challenge – they want our support and understanding of the depth and complexity of their issues, but they do not want to be seen as victims.
  • Reconnect with the passion that drew you to student affairs.
  • Our meaningful experience should also be meaningful for those with whom we interact.  We have the ability to create a powerful learning environment and leave a profound impact on all with whom we interact during our time in Phoenix.
  • Bring enough good energy to share with others.
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Fun Things To Do In Phoenix

posted on behalf of the Hospitality Committee

On behalf of the NASPA Hospitality Committee we would like to welcome all NASPA members to Phoenix, Arizona!  We are so happy to have you visit our amazing, culturally diverse, fun in the sun, metropolitan city! The best thing about Phoenix is that there is truly something for everyone to enjoy!

If you are interested in learning more about the unique desert landscape, we suggest you visit the Desert Botanical Garden (be sure to mention confirmation #194330 and receive a discount off of general admission:  Adults – $15.00; Seniors – $13.00; Children – $5.50). You can take the Phoenix light rail from the Convention Center to the Heard Museum  to learn more about the local Native American art and culture (present your NASPA pass & receive a $2 discount off of general admission:  Adults – $13.00; Seniors – $11.50; Children (5 & Under) – FREE; American Indians – FREE). Staying in Phoenix through Wednesday afternoon? Be sure to visit the Phoenix Art Museum  for FREE from 3-9pm! If the family is joining you or for the inner kid in you, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, the Arizona Science Center and the Phoenix Zoo are always a great way to spend the afternoon.

For sports enthusiasts, you can participate in the Night Out with the Phoenix Coyote hockey team (yes, we have hockey in Arizona!). Your NASPA discounted ticket price ranges from $20-$50 and can be purchased here with the password “conference.” For those of you who enjoy baseball, you can see your favorite team at a Spring Training game! For those interested in seeing a basketball game, we have a discount for two Phoenix Suns games, March 10th (vs. Memphis Grizzlies) and 12th (vs. Minnesota Timberwolves) with discounted ticket price ranges from $15-$50. You can purchase tickets here with password “NASPA.”

There are many golf courses to test your game and due to our year round sunny weather, a trip to the pool might be essential!

For those of you who want to explore the great outdoors, Arizona has a lot of options for hiking including Piestewa Peak, South Mountain, , Camelback and of course the Grand Canyon and Sedona, which are just a few hours north. Don’t forget your water and sunscreen!

Finally, for those foodies out there, Arizona is a perfect place to get your fill of street tacos, restaurants featured on Food Networks Diners Drive in’s & Dives, and other hidden gems.

Welcome to Phoenix, we hope you enjoy your trip and have as much fun as we do exploring our unique and cultured desert!

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Unleashing the Power of Student Affairs

excerpted from Journal of College & Character (vol. 12, No. 4, Dec. 2011)

As a result of environmental turbulence created by economic turmoil and shifting social policies, the world of higher education is experiencing widespread change. Student affairs professionals are well-positioned to influence the future direction of higher education and the impact education has for students and society. The NASPA 2012 conference theme Ignite Leadership Influence Change will offer attendees the opportunity to explore dynamics associated with elevating our presence and our impact.

Planning for the NASPA 2012 conference in Phoenix is now well underway. The planning committee is excited as we pursue our work. As we approach our planning, we are aware of the awesome responsibility we have in order to provide experiences that educate, stimulate thinking, engage passions, encourage consciousness, and forward the values of NASPA and the student affairs profession. NASPA President, Patricia Telles-Irvin, challenged the committee to think deeply about the major issues confronting higher education. She asked that we consider themes that will both focus our time together in Phoenix and give us a broad enough frame to be inclusive of the many domains in which student affairs work is practiced.

The conference planning committee chose the theme Ignite Leadership Influence Change. The theme was selected to describe the profound engagement imperative and responsibilities that lie before student affairs leaders. The responsibilities that have been presented to us fall into four domains: to be a catalyst (ignite); to exercise leadership; to use our voices (influence); and to make the world different in positive ways (change). How we respond and how we position ourselves will have deep implications for the future of higher education and the student affairs profession.

Our campuses and the entire higher education community are in the midst of culture-shifting conversations that are resulting in landscape shifting decisions and outcomes. There are profound questions regarding mission focus, program structure, policies relating to access and opportunity, and many other issues that can dramatically affect the future of education. This is a time for student affairs leaders to inspire those around us to consider bold possibilities, to move beyond the narrow confines of traditional disciplines, and forge new alliances. Student affairs leaders must be a stimulus for considering new ways of working, new relationship alignments, and new approaches to achieving our desired educational outcomes. Our charge is to ignite new energy and encourage creative thinking about ways to fulfill our missions. Igniting our leadership means having the courage and commitment needed to cross arbitrary boundaries for the sake of our students, our institutions, and the world we hope to shape.

Leadership may be our most valuable contribution. As student affairs professionals, we can help to navigate our institutions through challenging times to promising outcomes. Our leadership must be boundary-spanning. Unleashing our leadership means taking risks on behalf of our mission to construct essential relationship networks; it means demonstrating the depth of our commitment to the core values of our profession; it means being other-centered and creating meaningful, socially relevant organizations that serve a broad range of stakeholders. We are required to demonstrate future-focused leadership that honors our heritage but thoughtfully and responsibly acknowledges the future toward which we are called.

The influence of student affairs must be felt throughout the academy. Historically, the student affairs profession has focused its influence in higher education on those areas that have been defined as “student issues.” The significance of the times in which those of us in higher education find ourselves requires those in the student affairs profession to find a new voice; we must acknowledge to ourselves and others that the stakes with which we are confronted demand that we act as full citizens in the academy, that we assert our knowledge, and that we allow ourselves to make a difference in the fate of our institutions. In order to achieve a level of influence that befits the depth of our investment in the souls of our institutions and the futures of students, it is essential that we forge new partnerships with academic colleagues, fiscal officers, student leaders, board members and regents, and other parties who are involved in decisions regarding higher education’s future. Our influence will be felt through engaging in future-shaping conversations, asserting leadership in critical areas, provoking the thinking of key decision makers, and demonstrating value through the outcomes we produce.

Change is a hallmark of our current higher education landscape. Student affairs leaders must both embrace change that is inherent in an environment responding to social and economic turbulence and create and facilitate the kind of change implied in efforts to re-vision, re-invent, and transform higher education. As change leaders, we will engage deeply, think critically, contribute positively, and work diligently in an effort to uncover the best possible future for our campus. The change we inspire and facilitate must be thoughtful; it must demonstrate that there are direction and intentionality to our leadership.

Now is the time for new, bold, integrated leadership. Now is the time to expand the capacity of our institutions, our colleagues, and ourselves. We are well-positioned to change the way we navigate the landscape of relationships and organizational life. From the perspective of the 2012 conference planning team, we are challenged to alter the way we approach our work, if we are to stay relevant in a changing environment. In this spirit, our planning team challenges conference attendees to join us in exploring these questions:

  • What ignites the spark of leadership in each of us?
  • How can we influence our traditional environments in this new world of virtual interfaces which span boundaries?
  • What steps can we take to stay open to change?
  • What strategies do we use to create new possibilities for our organizations and communities?
  • How do our founding values inform us in times of uncertainty? How do we elevate those values during such times?
  • How do our roles and identities shift in a boundary-free organization?

At the same time the 2012 planning team was exploring possible conference themes, we also had at the front of our minds awareness of the concerns some members have about our conference location. The current and evolving political and social climate in Arizona will challenge us as social justice leaders and present us with the types of teaching and learning opportunities educators crave. We also feel it necessary to acknowledge that as a diverse profession, we have members who are ambivalent about NASPA being held in Arizona, while there are some members who are in support of the direction of legislation and social dynamics in that state. The planning committee and NASPA leadership are committed to doing all we can to create space and experiences within the conference for education, social action, awareness raising, and other forms of engagement that reflect the diverse nature of our leadership community.  The planning team will use our best thinking to provide a conference experience that honors the complexity of the context in which our conference will be held. We will rely upon our members to use the program submission process to propose programs, roundtables, poster sessions, and preconference workshops so that members can contribute to the dynamic conference experience we aspire to offer.

As leaders, the most powerful dynamic upon which we can rely is our values, which we can ultimately translate into visions, voice, leadership, and action. True leadership is more than mere activity—leadership involves respectful relationships, effective communication, and deep connection, among other dynamics. As educators the most potent tool we have at our disposal is education.  As we all know, education is more than just an activity of the mind—true education touches the soul and spirit, awakens consciousness, inspires action, and arouses the heart.

The NASPA 2012 planning team aspires to provide a learning experience that will touch, inspire, and provoke us to engage in values-worthy work as leaders and educators. Our time together in Phoenix will allow us to draw upon the best we have to offer, consider ways to unleash our energy, and engage in the kind of leadership higher education most needs from us right now.

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Purposeful Sharing

The 2012 conference is offering a unique program in which you are invited to share your thoughts about something important to you.  This is an important and relevant opportunity for colleagues to share values, beliefs, and ideals in-person, at a microphone, for up to five minutes during an afternoon session at the national conference in Arizona.

Imagine listening to about 25 colleagues each with their own story, place in history, and perspective eloquently and creatively sharing in an uninterrupted manner what they believe about something important to them, and probably in some way – important to you.

We invite you to extract yourself from the daily onslaught of information and messages you are receiving, slow down, pause, and develop a thoughtful reflection about your personal philosophies and core values in the context of a particular topic you wish to address.  A reflection that intersects with the conference theme, Ignite Leadership Influence Change, may be intuitive and won’t hurt.  The list of possible topics about which to share is endless.

  • What do you believe and why?
  • What causes you the greatest concern for students today?
  • What socio-political or human rights issue are you most attentive to right now? Why?
  • What prompts you to act and influence change? Why?
  • What is your experience in the world today?  Why is it important for others to hear it?
  • What is the most beneficial, life-affirming work you have done recently? Why?
  • What is your call to action?  Why?
  • What do you celebrate and affirm?  Why?

We will benefit from this opportunity to listen to each other.  Just as we seek inspiration or greater clarity about our own beliefs or practices from our plenary and featured speakers, we can seek this from than our immediate colleagues as well.  I am frequently motivated, provoked or touched by the actions or perspectives of those in my closest circles.  I am eager to hear from you, and I plan to take advantage of the opportunity to nominate some individuals from whom I would particularly like to hear.  I hope you will too.

Given the talent and passion rampant in our profession we anticipate great diversity in the proposals – ranging from a prepared reflection or song to slam poetry or a small group expression.   The Call for Programs is forthcoming with a submission deadline of January 20, 2012.  If you have questions, please contact Tonantzin Oseguera or Will Simpkins, Coordinating Presenters and members of the 2012 Program Committee.

We want to hear from YOU!

Wendy Endress, 2012 NASPA Conference Program Committee Chair and Executive Associate to the Vice President for Student Affairs, The Evergreen State College

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What Do You Value?

Each of us has issues about which we feel deeply. For some it may be a passion for justice or deep feelings about the power and potential of education. Some of us have beliefs rooted in the spiritual realm and the power of the sacred. Whatever the origins or nature of our beliefs, for most of us our beliefs form the infrastructure of our character and represent the cornerstone of our soul. Our beliefs are what propel us to act with courage, to engage most deeply with the world and other living beings. When we are in touch with our beliefs we are most fully alive and most open to unleashing our humanity.

What do you believe or value most fervently? How would you express those values and beliefs to others who are sharing this journey through life with you – others like you who are in search of her/his better self? If you were given just five minutes to express to others what you believe, what would you share? How would you share?

This year as part of the 2012 NASPA Annual Conference we will provide just such an opportunity. We will offer a session titled “NASPA Values: Purposeful Sharing,” during which conference attendees will have the opportunity, in whatever format they can be most expressive, to share their beliefs; some will share in spoken word, some through song, others may select poetry.

Soon information will be available for how participants can request to participate. So consider participating or encourage colleagues who you would like to hear from to sign up. At the very least come to support and experience the power of our colleagues.

Likely the tumultuous climate in our country and around our world have challenged your beliefs or caused you to get more profoundly in touch with your feelings. What beliefs have come to the surface? If you had your five minutes what would you say? Trust me, others and I would love to hear.

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Why I chose to lead

Since the NASPA Board of Directors voted to support holding the 2012 annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona there has been a wide-ranging discussion about the wisdom of that decision.  In the spirit of transparency I must reveal that as a member of the NASPA Board at that time I cast an affirmative vote on the matter of holding the conference in Arizona.  My reasons for voting as I did are complex and probably not worthy of elaboration in this blog post.  When I cast my vote I had not yet accepted the invitation to serve as the 2012 conference chair.  When asked to serve as chair I responded enthusiastically.  I feel grateful, honored and privileged to be in this leadership role.  Allow me to share why I decided to lead the planning committee in the context of this controversial decision

I accepted the responsibility to chair the conference knowing the pain it would cause and the healing that would need to be done to address the pain and disappointment experienced by some members of our Association community.  I do not contest the perspectives of those who feel we should not have made the decision to hold our annual meeting in Phoenix; certainly this is a point on which decent and reasonable people can have differing opinions.  I do know that since we have decided to be in Arizona that we must ensure that our presence makes a difference.
My personal feeling is that Arizona (and the other states that will mimic their legislation) represents our generation’s Mississippi Delta.  Just as the consciousness of our nation was challenged concerning what to do in response to the hatred, violence and rigid social segregation in America’s Old South; our generation will be challenged regarding what to do with portions of our country that deny racial justice, human dignity, worker rights and other forms of justice to which members of the student affairs profession are committed.  Our challenge and dilemma in these situations will be whether to avoid or engage with those pockets of hatred.  As was the case for those who had to wrestle with the decision regarding engagement with the South, the choice is a very personal one.  As someone whose personhood was denied and denigrated by the segregation of the South, I am thankful that others decided to engage, as opposed to allowing the system to persist in isolation from those who considered themselves to be decent, just and committed to social equity.  Just as those who rode busses in the 1950′ and 60’s had to sort through their own conscience, each of us has to weigh their values, feelings of personal and psychological safety and other considerations in making her/his decision about whether to attend NASPA 2012.   

I have the eerie feeling that we are at such a point in our society where we will constantly be confronted with moral dilemmas in our decisions regarding where we meet and how we respond to the local and regional dynamics in our host cities.  As we make those decisions we will experience decisions by our members to both engage with and refrain from attending our annual meeting – both of which will be informed by the personal consciousness of the member.  It would be unwise and insensitive to imply that those who do not want to go to Arizona or other locations that challenge his or her sensibilities are not activists or change agents.  Activism and change can be initiated from close and afar.

I believe there is good that can come from the thoughtful work NASPA will be able to do in our time in Arizona.  I am also convinced that change can also be influenced from a distance by those who choose to not attend our conference.   As leaders we will respect and support the personal choices made by members of our NASPA community. 

The 2012 planning team is committed to offering a conference that allows participants to give voice to the issues that concern them and that should matter to our profession.  We hope you will share your perspective, whether through this vehicle or at the annual conference in Phoenix.

Thank you for your support of NASPA.

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Join the conversation

Greetings Colleagues,

I will offer periodic blogs to keep you updated on the work of the NASPA 2012 planning committee.

Planning for NASPA 2012 in Phoenix is now at full speed.  The planning committee is excited as we pursue the work of our group.  As we approach our planning we are aware of the awesome responsibility we have to provide experiences that educate, stimulate thinking, engage passions, encourage consciousness and forward the values of NASPA and the student affairs profession.  We will rely upon input and feedback from members of our Association as we construct the conference – your voices will help us to identify meaningful experiences, ensure that we are aware of issues that most concern you, and that the conference responds to contemporary and future issues facing higher education and our planet.

The 2012 planning team is keenly aware of the concerns some of our members continue to have about our conference being held in Arizona.  We are committed to doing all we can to create space and experiences within the conference for education, social action, awareness raising and other forms of engagement.  We encourage our members to use the program submission process to propose programs, roundtables, poster sessions and pre-conference workshops so that you can contribute to the dynamic conference experience we aspire to offer.  I also ask that you offer me any specific suggestions you have for how we can ensure that our presence in Phoenix adds value for you as a member, as well as the community of Phoenix.

As educators the most powerful tool we have at our disposal is education.  As we know education is not just an activity of the mind – true education touches the soul and spirit, awakens consciousness, inspires action, and arouses the heart.  We strive to offer a truly profound educational experience.  Please join us as we show who we are as an Association and what we stand for as professionals as we demonstrate our commitment to Ignite Leadership Influence Change in Phoenix.

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