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ACHE – Reflection on Regional Conference

April 22, 2015 1:46 PM | Anonymous

The Association for Continuing Education held five distinct regional meetings this year: Great Plains, MidAtlantic, West, and New England. These meetings provided excellent professional development opportunities for continuing education professionals. Fortunately, I was able to attend the ACHE Great Plains meeting in Des Moines, Iowa and I had the privilege of collaborating with a diverse group of colleagues. The following reflection will detail my experiences in Des Moines.

An animated group of continuing education professionals from Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri met in Des Moines, Iowa on March 5th and 6th to participate in the ACHE 2015 Great Plains Regional Conference. The theme for the conference was “Continuing Education: Unique Approaches in Unique Settings.” The conference was hosted by Upper Iowa University, a pleasant campus near the heart of Des Moines.

Though the wintery weather made travel difficult, individuals were glad to arrive to the conference after long layovers and flight cancellations. Luckily, both keynote speakers and the vast majority of registrants were able arrive to Des Moines on time.

The conference began on Thursday, March 5th with breakfast and an introduction from Dr. Nina Barbee, Chair of the Great Plains Region. Additionally, Dr. Kurt Wood, Provost of Upper Iowa University, warmly welcomed the conference attendees.

After the introductions, Mr. Ron Crouch, Director of Research and Statistics of the Kentucky Education Workforce Development Cabinet gave the first keynote address. Mr. Crouch emphasized the ways that continuing education is influenced by the dynamics of demographic and economic trends. Dr. Crouch presented an array of data as well as some excellent online resources for professionals to use when conducting research for program development.

Following the opening keynote, the first and second concurrent sessions commenced. Presenters gave engaging presentations on topics that emphasized the cost evaluation of marketing for workforce programs, adult learner programming design and implementation, and continuing education community partnerships. The conference registrants expressed that they enjoyed the informative sessions and followed each presentation with meaningful discussions about the subject matter.

Upon completion of the concurrent sessions, the conference audience met in the luxurious Sheraton West hotel for reception and dinner. The evening event was exquisite and provided an atmosphere which was conducive for networking, merriment, and conversation.

Dinner ReceptionOn Friday, March 6th the group met again at Upper Iowa University for breakfast. Following the meal, Dr. James Pappas, Vice President for University Outreach and Dean of the College of Liberal Studies gave the second keynote address. Dr. Pappas detailed the history of continuing education and provided valuable insights into the future of the field.

Pappas Keynote

After Dr. Pappas’ speech, the third concurrent session commenced. Presenters gave presentations on fostering growth for outreach sites and gave examples of how to successfully partner with businesses in order to increase enrollment.

Following the last concurrent session, the ACHE Great Plains Award Ceremony began. Dr. Robin Plumb, Assistant Professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Chair of the Great Plains Award Committee presented the award winners with commemorative plaques to celebrate the success of the excellent programs. The winners were as follows:

Exceptional Program Award – Noncredit
Northeastern State University Community Music Academy
Dr. Eloy Chavez, Dean, College of Extended Learning, Northeastern State University

Chavez Award

Exceptional Program Award – Credit
Collaboration for Change
Dr. Marthann Schulte, Associate Professor of Education and Coordinator of Online Faculty Evaluation, Park University

Exceptional Program Award – Conferences
National Symposium on Student Retention
Sandra Whalen, Program Administrator II, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, University of Oklahoma

The conference concluded with the Annual Regional Business meeting. Great Plains members planned for the future and settled budgetary and logistical information.

Overall, the meeting was a tremendous success and we want to thank all of the attendees for sharing this rewarding experience. We also want to extend gratitude to our generous sponsors: Sustainable Business Education, MBS Direct, and AVISO.

I hope that by sharing my experience, you will be inspired to attend an ACHE Regional Meeting in your area of the country in 2016.  If you are in the West Region, be sure to sign up for the ACHE West Regional Coffee Breaks coming up in May and June!


Stan Khrapak
Operations Associate
Association for Continuing Higher Education
Norman, Oklahoma

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