Convention Programs at ACPA17: What’s Your Role?

My first ACPA experience as a presenter was at the ACPA 2004 Annual Convention in Philadelphia where I presented “Pritchard Hall: A Programming Revolution in an All-Male Residence Hall.” While I had presented at other professional conferences prior to 2004, this would be the first of many at an ACPA Convention. At the time, ACPA featured 30-minute Promising Practice sessions. These provided individuals, including myself, an opportunity to provide insight into the work that we were doing. Not only did this give me an opportunity to present, it provided  a confidence booster to present again.  It was an incredible learning experience for me.

Oftentimes, we see the Call for Proposals for ACPA, ASHE, etc., but are hesitant about submitting anything, whether because of feelings of imposter syndrome, uncertainty, or otherwise.  I have felt the same way, but then realized I have knowledge on things that I am working on, on a daily basis. Can this be refined into a program opportunity?

Sometimes, we need to take the risk and put ourselves out there to highlight the excellent work that is taking place. This is certainly not without it’s challenges along the way. For instance, what if your program is not accepted?  This can be frustrating especially if you felt strongly about a topic, and then in reading the feedback, you have more questions. Having now been on both sides of the program process, I can see the different perspectives and challenges. Even though the program submission process is competitive, the goal is to be as fair and transparent.

Resources for Submitting and Presenting at ACPA17

One key realization we’ve had is that no one ever teaches us about how to be a presenter or even about how to submit a program.  We often assume that we know how this is done and that our members know what to do. Therefore, in the spirit of our convention mantra of connecting potential to action, we have created new Program Resources, including two webinar series and a handful of updated information to aid you in the proposal and program presenting process.

Since May, a monthly Program Development Webinar has taken place to provide an opportunity to be more transparent about the Program process and to highlight the different program categories. This has also provided an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.  These webinars have been recorded and are now available through the Program Resources Page for ACPA17.

Once program decisions are made in mid-October, we will then shift to the start of Presenter Development webinars. These will provide an opportunity to better engage presenters on best practices to become better presenters and to help is preparation for their sessions.

The ultimate goal of these webinars is to be more intentional in working with the membership on the program development process and the presenter experience.  Too often, we hear the concerns about programs that were presented that did not align with their abstract, or were very different from the title, etc.  Our hope is that providing these opportunities, we can begin to re-shape and re-frame the programmatic experience not only for the attendees but also the presenters.

Just as I had the opportunity to get engaged in the ACPA Curriculum through a promising practice in 2004, the ACPA17 Convention features a variety of ways to get engaged.  This year there are:

  • General/Sponsored sessions (60 minute session)
  • Extended sessions (120 minute sessions)
  • Research papers (75 minute sessions that feature three research paper presentations and a discussant)
  • Research and Practice posters (Posters are a great way to get engaged within the programmatic experience!)
  • Genius Labs (share your technological expertise)
  • Pecha Kuchas (less than 7 minutes to share your story)

New this year are the competency-based sessions (75 minute sessions) focused on highlight the foundational, intermediate and advanced levels of the ten ACPA/NASPA competencies. While the competencies are central to all programs, these competency-based sessions provide a more-depth look at a competency at the respective level. Our goal is to have at least one competency-based session for each competency and at each level.  This is an opportunity to help members expand their professional development and their own professional skillsets at an deeper level (i.e. credentials).

Also new this year we are introducing the Spotlight Sessions, which is a take on my first ACPA presentation, in the Promising Practice format. Spotlight Sessions will provide an opportunity to spotlight an initiative or practice that is making a difference. These are 30 minute sessions that may be stand-alone or grouped as part of an hour block with another related spotlight session.

There is certainly a role for you within the convention curriculum regardless  your experience level.  Each of these roles is essential in providing valuable knowledge and skills within the convention curriculum.  You play a critical role in helping to connect potential to action. While there are many reasons why individuals choose to attend a professional conference, at the heart of any convention are the programming opportunities.  ACPA17 will be no different.

We have a Convention Programming Team that is providing leadership to ensure that we have a solid and meaningful curricular experience. Please reach out if you have questions, and remember that the deadline for Program Proposals is Friday, September 9, 2016.  We look forward to your engagement!

What role do you see for yourself in the convention curriculum? What experiences and insight can you offer at ACPA17?


 RayRaymond V. Plaza serves as the Director, Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) at Santa Clara University. Ray started his tenure at SCU in late July 20
15 and as ODI Director is responsible for day-to-day activities that include working closely with the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion. Prior to Santa Clara University, Ray worked at Bowling Green State University and at Virginia Tech.

Recently, Ray completed his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).

Ray has been a member of ACPA for a number of years and the Montreal Convention was his tenth ACPA Convention.  He has been active with the Convention Planning process, and is honored to have the opportunity to serve the association as this year’s Program Chair. In addition, Ray also serves as Chair of the [email protected]/x Network, and is active with the Coalition of Multicultural Affairs and recently ended his term as part of the Commission on Global Dimensions in Student Development.

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