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The Conference

Of air-conditioned ballrooms, name tag lanyards, and drink tickets–and whether or not conference-going is worth it.


Let’s begin with the setting: an opening keynote session, held in a wide hotel ballroom, the kind created by throwing open the Godzilla-sized accordion dividers that normally parse one cavernous hall into smaller ones, filled with rows and rows of chairs, all on top of carpet patterned in inoffensive colors, all designed to hide stains and wear. A stage is set up at the front with a podium and colored LED lighting for effect, framed by two giant projection screens on either side.

There are about 500 of us, and most all of us fit into roughly one of a handful of categories: community college fundraisers or marketers, or board members, presidents or administrators with those responsibilities. We are there to learn the latest tricks of the trade, to hear stories of successful programs, to network. We are from all over the country, from big and small schools, rural, suburban, and urban, historic and new, and so forth.

Professional development of any strain has never particularly been my cup of tea. Maybe it’s my background as a teacher, but somehow the pedagogical styles of just about every training program I’ve completed reek of elementary school-aged tactics. Which is fine, of course, if you’re working with ten year-olds, but a bit demeaning otherwise.

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But Seas Between Us Broad Have Roared

FAMILY

 

 

A look back at 2017…

One year ago today, I sat down to put together a census of sorts, a calling out of things that happened over the course of the year 2016, an assessment of what had come to pass and what might still be. The second paragraph of that post reads:

2016 seems to have been especially hard on so many. The obvious reasons include the divisive and contentious election and seemingly relentless celebrity deaths, but there were abundant natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and domestic riots. It was a year in which, regardless of where one lands on the spectrum, we wondered who on earth those people on the opposite side actually were.

Last year’s New Year’s Eve felt like a momentary pause on a long and exhausting journey, one to which we weren’t exactly thrilled to be party. This year doesn’t feel much different. I could swap out the year in the paragraph above and copy/paste my way into 2018. And I bet I could probably do the same thing in another year. That’s worth noting.

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Quick Takes, early February

A few notes, and things I wanted to mark down:

Went down to Davidson last night for the annual Conarroe lecture, whose guest speaker this year was the author Lorrie Moore. It was nice to see Joel again–looking well and dapper as always–and to hear his infamous introductions. Plus, got to see good Davidson friends. As is my custom, I picked up a couple of books for autographs–this time for Annie, whose entries on the celebrated autograph bookshelf are only getting started. Moore wrote a funny inscription to her, but Don DeLillo’s is still in the lead for funniest, I think.

Mary’s brother, Jerry, passed away following a brief illness. Losing her younger sibling has been difficult.

Dad has upgraded the exhaust system for his ‘Vette, and I was able to get behind the wheel for the first time last weekend. It certainly boogies.

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