Welcome from the ACPA18 Chair

Can you believe that it’s been three months since we got together at the ACPA17 Convention? It is a busy time for the ACPA18 planning team as we completed filling vacant spots on the team as well as meeting on a monthly basis as a steering team.

In the midst of the convention planning, we are keeping abreast of the ever-changing political dynamics in Texas. The most recent Texas Legislative session resulted in a number of challenging laws, including SB4, which targets immigrants of color and sanctuary cities. While no formal bathroom bills have been passed, we are concerned about what will happen in the upcoming Special Session that begins on July 18th.  Just this past week, on June 22nd, the California Attorney General banned state-funded travel from California to Texas over discriminatory legislation.  We are working closely with the ACPA International Office and the Governing Boards.

First, I want to extend thanks to the ACPA17 team for their efforts, as well as to the attendees that provided valuable feedback in the Convention evaluation. The over 120 pages of quantitative and qualitative data has been insightful and provided an opportunity for the team to reflect on the areas of concern as well as the areas of opportunity.

As I shared in my remarks during the closing session, we are committed to an experience that pushes boundaries in our thinking, empowers members to make a difference, and stimulates change in the community. The ACPA18 video showcases that we have no formal theme; but a thread that has developed throughout our discussions is the concept of being bold, and we asked ourselves what that means for each of us as we do this important work on our campuses. This commitment has guided our efforts as we build on and infuse ACPA’s Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice , how we engage the local community within the convention, and how we continue to build upon prior efforts.

Since March 2017, a lot of work has been happening behind the scenes. I am pleased to share that ACPA18 will be the first convention team to use a new software platform to replace the old CDMS system that served the Association for many years. This new platform provides a more user-oriented interface and will help enhance our capabilities within all phases of the program submission, review, and assignment process.

The Call for Proposals launches soon and encompasses all program formats to ensure all are due at the same time for member clarit. We encourage all members to submit proposals in all functional areas of student affairs and within the ACPA/NASPA competencies to ensure that we have a breadth of proposals.  As the association moves forward with the Strategic Imperative on Racial Justice, we are particularly interested in programs that help align competencies with this imperative and help us all to better understand how we reach a more racially just place as a result of doing student affairs work.  Without your proposals, we have no convention.

We can also confirm that we are moving forward with Career Central for ACPA18. The team is excited about building upon the efforts of the past few years and really focusing on engaging our attendees in this area.  We realize that the Career Central area is not only important when you are job searching, it is important at all times in one’s career development and growth. We are excited about leading the field in this area and sharing this opportunity with our attendees..

Our Equity & Inclusion team has been keeping an attentive watch on what is happening in the Texas Legislature. The team is finding ways to address the impact of potential problematic legislation such as SB4 s and the unresolved bathroom bills that might resurface in the Special Legislative session.  As we shared during ACPA17, our team is committed to ongoing advocacy and in working with the local community on these issues. We encourage you to read through our E&I blog posts about ways to be engaged and note that a monthly E&I update will take place on this blog page.

Our Member Engagement and Marketing area is putting the final details on the plan to better engage the membership around ACPA18. Expect to get more information via our respective social media channels and on our website.  ACPA18 is on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  Make sure that you connect with us for the latest updates.  Click here to visit our website now!

The Convention Experiences team is focused on ways that we can enhance the convention experience to ensure that attendees have the tools that they need to successfully navigate the convention. We realize that we need to do a better job in welcoming new attendees and returning attendees to the convention experience. We plan on having a formal orientation for new attendees before opening ceremony.

While the different teams have been busy within their respective areas, the Steering team has been doing a careful examination of the convention shell and building upon the efforts introduced at prior conventions. Some of the areas we are excited about are….

  • Caucuses: One of the newest pieces is directly related to ACPAs Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice is the inclusion of Caucus sessions as formal opportunities for attendees to interact within self-identified racial/ethnic identity groups. This opportunity is still being developed but we anticipate these sessions will be powerful opportunities for attendees to address how issues of race impact our work as student affairs practitioners/educators.  These Caucus sessions build upon, and do not replace, the great work that the Networks/Coalitions/Communities of Practice have done in providing space for attendees.
  • Formal Plenary Speakers: An additional new component will be formal plenary sessions on Monday and Tuesday of the Convention. Each of these sessions will have speakers and provide the opportunity for all convention attendees to be together in the same space on each day.  These will be standalone times with no schedule conflicts.
  • Built-in Breaks: We are also working to ensure breaks in the schedule and ways to address the valuable components of self-care.  This feedback was evident in the most recent convention evaluation.

In addition to the convention shell, the team has been busy working on potential convention speakers for opening, closing and the plenary sessions. We are hopeful that we can announce our set of speakers by August.  Our goal is to be intentional about the speakers we bring meaning that their talks will all tie together nicely to provide a coherent set of outcomes for our attendees.

We are currently finalizing details for the ACPA18 planning meetings that will happen as part of the July Leadership meeting. This visit provides opportunities to engage with the Entity group leaders about the convention, to plan usage of convention place, and to begin to make decisions related to the Convention. We are also working on engaging with local organizations while there as well as the local institutions.

During our visits with the Entity group leaders at ACPA17, I was asked why the convention was important.  This is a valid question. As someone that has attended over ten ACPA Conventions, the convention is a powerful conduit for learning, engagement, sharing, and networking.  The convention means different things to each member but in the end, it is about the importance of coming together.

We know that in these tough fiscal times on our campuses each of us has decisions about how we use or not use available professional development funds.  We hope that you will continue to value the ACPA Convention as a vital component to your professional development experience.  If something is not working, please let us know.

I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve the Association as Convention Chair. The team realizes the responsibility of our collective efforts to ensure a quality and worthwhile experience for the members.  We are excited about the experience we have planned for our members and hope that as more information is shared, you become as excited too!

As always, if you have questions about ACPA18, please feel free to contact me directly at rplaza@scu.edu.

Dr. Raymond 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 2015 and as ODI Director is responsible for day-to-day activities relating to diversity and inclusion efforts on the campus.  

Ray has been a member of ACPA for over 10+ years. In addition, Ray has been active with the Convention Planning process in a variety of roles, and most recently, served as the Program Chair for ACPA17.

He recently completed his term as Chair of the Latin@/x Network this March 2017, and is now serving as Past Chair and has been involved with the Coalition of Multicultural Affairs and the Commission on Global Dimensions in Student Development.


  1. A post or comment from the chairperson of ACPA. This
    convention will help all the people from every part of life. They are putting
    so much time and effort to help and guide the attendees and give them knowledge
    and fun. I think we all should consider this convention and go forward in our

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