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South Regional Spotlight - Cultivate Your Community: Partnerships and Relationships in Higher Education

June 22, 2018 1:32 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

"Relaxing! Wonderful and informative conference." 

"I came away with so many ideas." 

The 2018 ACHE South Annual Conference was held April 10-12 in Austin, TX at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at The Capitol.  Austin was a beautiful setting for a relaxing conference with plenty of opportunities to network and build new or existing relationships across the south region.  The “Keep Austin Weird” slogan celebrates the city’s desire to protect small, unique, and local businesses as it becomes a boom town and technology leader, while supporting the arts and entertainment industries.  This desire to support the community and its creativity inspired the conference theme, “Cultivate Your Community: Partnerships and Relationships in Higher Education.” 

Three tracks were developed to support the theme.  Leadership and Relationships offered sessions related to leadership experiences that led to improved relationships in team building, community relations, as well as an executive shared vision.  Due to Austin’s economic growth and increased career opportunities, a track titled Growing Partnerships offered sessions related to successful program partnerships that led to prosperity for students, departments, and the institutions.  The third track, When Weird Works…or Doesn’t, celebrated those unexpected partnerships that led to wonderful opportunities as well as odd collaborations that didn’t go as planned.  Concurrent sessions included topics on coaching, motivation and engagement, partnerships, online learning, communication strategies and reorganization to name a few.  

Keynote speakers included Dr. Gerald Napoles, president of Lone Star College – North Harris, who discussed the value of partnerships and relationships throughout his professional career and journey to become president.  Dr. Bethany Bear Hebbard,Community Corps director at Mobile Loaves & Fishes, shared her passion for teaching and inspiring the creation of true homes in a homeless world through relationship building.  Ben Kennedy, founder and managing partner of Kennedy & Company, has been a long time partner to the South Region and shared his current research on enrollment management.  Each keynote also graciously offered a follow-up concurrent session to provide an additional opportunity for participants to ask questions and learn more about their experiences.

Attendees also had time to take a city walking tour, visit parks around the Capitol, shop, eat out on historic Sixth Street, and relax in the outdoor backyard at the hotel playing yard games.  

Audrey Johnson coordinated our annual philanthropy project, supporting Community First! Village, which offers housing and services for the disabled and chronically homeless in Central Texas. 

The 2018 Regional Award winners included: 

  • Joseph P. Goddard Scholarship – Lourdes Arevalo, Kennesaw State University; 
  • Distinguished Program (Non-Credit) – Ethical Hacker Certificate, Kennesaw State University
  • Mini-Grant – Trey Schruff, Middle Tennessee State University; and 
  • Outstanding Faculty – Matthew Bergman, University of Louisville.  

During the business meeting, the mini-grant was amended to allow recipients to utilize the funds to attend the Emerging Leaders Institute.

At the conclusion of the conference, outgoing ACHE South chair Dr. Chris Nesmith reflected on the accomplishments of the organization this past year and handed the gavel to incoming chair Debbie Poweleit. Also recognized for their amazing work, organizational skills, and overall support were our co-hosts Michelle Chappell and David Grebel form Texas Christian University and Audrey Johnson and Gabriela Coleman from Baylor University, and their teams, who along with the entire Conference Planning Committee designed a successful conference. Plans are already underway for the 2019 conference in Gatlinburg, TN, at the Park Vista hotel with Eastern Tennessee State University serving as the host institution.


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