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Reflections from ACPA and NASPA
March 21, 2013 - 9:54pm

This year's ACPA Annual Convention was in Las Vegas. Let's not do that ever again. Smoke-filled casino floors were like unhealthy moats that had to be crossed in order to get to sessions. Fortunately, as with every ACPA Annual Convention, opportunities for learning and connecting with fellow student affairs abounded. A unique aspect of this year's convention was the addition of a partnership with the NIRSA Annual Conference. Sharing the opening extravaganza and exhibit hall space was a nice touch.

Thankfully, the NASPA Annual Conference took place about a week after ACPA's annual event. As someone who attends both events, that week-long break was quite welcome. Taking place in Orlando, NASPA's location was hot and steamy…less smoke, more Disney. Even though there were more student affairs professionals attending this event, the location made for easy session navigation.

Attendees and exhibitors at both events were in for a real treat as this year's exhibit halls were fantastic. There was a wide variety of solutions providers and publishers. Having attended several of these annual conferences, I was impressed by the overall booth volume and vibrancy in the exhibit halls.

Some years, the opening ceremonies have been average. Sometimes big names do not always equal big presentations. This year, the opening ceremonies for ACPA and NASPA were phenomenal. With both groups having seemingly the same theme of radical justice, the keynotes were captivating and powerful. It really was edge of your seat kind of stuff. I can't wait to watch replays of both keynotes as they were superb. My only issue is that we probably could have used a bit more dubstep as people were finding their seats…but that's just me.

In terms of regular sessions (there were some non-standard presentations, but they were few and far between), we have to stop being so bad at this. Seriously. Powerpoint isn't the problem. We need to be better storytellers and utilize high quality visual communications. For further reading (I could write a part 2 of this, but it works just fine for this year): Conference Sessions Do Not Have to Suck. In terms of A/V support, both conferences seemed to have had a bit more tech this year. I gave three sessions at NASPA and the in-room audio-visual was perfect.

We love our coffee, tea, and pastries. Dear Starbucks, please provide satellite coffee kiosks during these events to reduce line size and increase your operating profits. Sincerely, All of Us.

Lastly, I do hope that someday, ACPA and NASPA will pull a Brady Bunch and become one happy student affairs family. Until then, I'm looking forward to March/April of 2014. It's a marathon of student affairs conferencing and I wouldn't miss it. See you in Baltimore and Indianapolis!


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