Presidential Perspective: Engaging students and advancing auxiliaries with technology

Happy summer! This is a time for many of us to renovate/refresh facilities and operations, and prepare for the very busy launch of the new academic year. To inspire some of those changes, NACAS once again offered conferences in each of the four regions in the spring. I had the pleasure of attending each of them, starting with the NACAS South conference in April at the Sandestin Resort near Pensacola, Florida.


Happy summer!

This is a time for many of us to renovate/refresh facilities and operations, and prepare for the very busy launch of the new academic year. To inspire some of those changes, NACAS once again offered conferences in each of the four regions in the spring. I had the pleasure of attending each of them, starting with the NACAS South conference in April at the Sandestin Resort near Pensacola, Florida.

The NACAS West conference in early June was in San Diego, then the NACAS East group met in Philadelphia and NACAS Central in Indianapolis. I must say that I enjoyed each of the unique traditions of each region in terms of hospitality and programming! I was very impressed with the level of professional development opportunities offered at all four. There were inspiring keynote speakers, challenging attendees to look at things differently and to incorporate what we learned into action back on campus.

Other sessions focused on current issues facing us in auxiliary/ancillary services, such as leadership character, bridging student affairs and business services, functional business plans, dynamic bookstores and retail environments, leveraging technology, and innovation. These sessions were led by experts among us, underscoring that we have lots to learn from and share with each other. A common session at each of the conferences was one devoted to emerging professionals. It is really wonderful that we are all taking very seriously the need to welcome and mentor our successors.

Attending these regional conferences also provided an intimate setting to strengthen relationships with people I had met before. If it all possible, it is worth planning to include both your regional conference and the national conference in your annual professional development opportunities. The experience of both is very different but very valuable in advancing our networks and learning.

The focus of this edition is on game-changing technology. I realize my Canadian heritage may be coming through when I smile at the “double entendre” with this theme. The obvious interpretation is that technology offers opportunity to advance services or operations to such a degree as to have total course-changing implications. A second interpretation could refer to capitalizing on the trend of using gaming technology. Gamification is a set of techniques that generally revolve around engaging and motivating individuals and groups to perform specific actions, but technology is a primary enabler. Elements and functions for adding game mechanics to non-gaming contexts—including online business environments—are available now. Some departments within my portfolio at my institution have been looking into gaming technology to engage students in a different way. Perhaps you have been too? Both of these interpretations speak to technology enabling and supporting the advancement of our auxiliary/ancillary services on our campus. As leaders, we must keep abreast with those opportunities to ensure our services remain relevant and current. Check out articles in this edition of College Services for examples and impacts.

I welcome and enjoy NACAS members getting in touch with me to share ideas of moving our association forward. I look forward to hearing from you or seeing you at the annual national conference in San Antonio in October. We are well underway with our search for a new CEO. Status updates are available on our website at nacas.org.

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Kathryn Le Gros, CASP
Kathryn Le Gros was the 2014 - 2015 NACAS President.

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