Vive la différence

The 2014 NACAS Annual Conference, Oct. 5-8, 2014, in Montréal, Québec, ushered in fresh outlooks and new adventures for the 1,129 industry professionals in attendance.

The 2014 NACAS Annual Conference, Oct. 5-8, 2014, in Montréal, Québec, ushered in fresh outlooks and new adventures for the 1,129 industry professionals in attendance. Attendees, many who were brushing up on their notes from high school French class before the conference, were delighted to find that Montréal welcomed them with open arms—even for those of us with limited French vocabulary. This was only the second time that the conference had been held outside of the U.S., and the international location seemed to evoke a new sense of understanding as attendees uncovered the best ways to serve students of all backgrounds.

The Canadian Challenge, initiated by conference Co-Chairs Kathryn Le Gros and Ed Kane, resulted in 112 Canadian institutional attendees, more than any other NACAS conference and more than double the number who attended in 2013. This representation furthered the international perspective at the conference and served to expand the conversations during education sessions to uncover the challenges and opportunities beyond the boundaries of the U.S.

NACAS installed Kathryn Le Gros, CASP, director, ancillary services at Camosun College, as president and added five new directors to its board at the 2014 NACAS Annual Conference. These professionals will bring added insight and experience to the board and will continue to drive NACAS forward in the coming year.

The Business Solutions Center boasted 159 booths, representing 116 companies. The floor was packed both days as auxiliary services professionals connected with experts in all areas of the industry. From bookstores to dining to transportation, it was the place to find answers to problems plaguing college campuses today.

Thank you to everyone who supported the NACAS Education Foundation during the conference. The NACAS Education Foundation Silent Auction & Raffle and flip-a-coin activity raised $16,718. These funds will help support professional development and leadership opportunities necessary for NACAS members to be successful as they support higher education through auxiliary/campus services in an ever-changing environment.

The three keynote speakers brought inspiration, humor, and a unique perspective to conference attendees. Here are just a few of the lessons learned from their compelling presentations.

Bursts of Florence: 
Step into the Intersection

vive-la-difference1The secret to innovation is found in the crossroads. While we tend to have established ideas of what drives success, such as focused intensity and practice, expertise is not a guarantee for success, stated author, entrepreneur, and consultant, Frans Johansson during the Opening General Session sponsored by Barnes & Noble College.

Since we live in a world in which conditions are not locked and the rules change constantly, our greatest challenge to innovation is predicting the future.

“We need to feel that we know what we are doing while still welcoming serendipity and the unexpected into our actions,” he said. And the way to do that, said Johansson, is through intersectional thinking. One of the best examples of intersectional thinking comes from the Medici family who ruled Rome and deliberately brought together some of the greatest minds from all disciplines, thereby vaulting the world into the Renaissance.

Johansson encouraged the audience to think about how they can create these “bursts of Florence” into their work:

  • Find inspiration from fields or cultures other than your own.
Create diverse teams and introduce unexpected perspectives in those teams.
Leverage existing diversity.

“Yes, the world is connected, but it wasn’t created that way,” concluded Johansson. “There is someone creating those connections. I think it should be you.”

The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire That Lives Within Us All

The packed audience at Monday’s General Session, sponsored by Follett, listened intently as Lyn Heward’s moving presentation transported them into the extraordinary and electrifying world of Cirque du Soleil. Everyone has creativity within them; the real challenge involves tapping into and drawing out these creative forces on a regular basis, she said. Heward used examples and stories from her years of experience as the vice president of creation at Montreal’s Cirque to guide the audience through the “Seven Doors to Creativity.”

vive-la-difference2Among many valuable takeaways, Heward offered four tips for igniting creativity:

Work outside of your comfort zone.
Try new things and take risks.
Never repeat yourself.
  4. Apply inventiveness and creativity to everyday tasks as well as to the big new projects.

Heward described the workplace at Cirque as a “fantastical playground,” and although this may not exactly be a realistic expectation for a college campus, Heward suggested creating an inviting and open workplace in which everyone is a contributor.

Heward’s advice for turning constraints into creative catalysts was especially practical for auxiliary services professional today. Some of the best ideas are born out of rather Spartan conditions, she said.

“You, too, can make a creative difference in your organization, your team, and your own life,” Heward said.

David Chilton Closes Conference with Humor and Insight

NACAS Annual Conference attendees who stayed for the conclusion of the 2014 event were richly rewarded with the hilarious and insightful closing session by David Chilton. Chilton, author of Canada’s all-time best-selling book, The Wealthy Barber, amused the audience with tales of the eager entrepreneurs he’s encountered through his work on the TV show Dragons’ Den.

Chilton has invested in several businesses through Dragons’ Den, including a greeting card line created with the help of a parakeet (Luigi the Lovebird) known for his artistic paper shredding and a booming ugly Christmas sweater company.

On a more serious note, Chilton attributed the high level of personal debt levels and low levels of saving to the now-common obsession with owning the latest and greatest of everything. While previous generations focused on saving up for items and paying with cash, most of the debt within the last 20 years has gone to consumption instead of investments like education.

“This cannot have a happy ending,” Chilton said.

He calls it “the granite countertop phenomenon”—an obsession with loving stuff.
To counter this impulse, Chilton recommended completing a three-month spending summary chronicling every penny spent. This practice reveals areas of disproportionate spending, and more clearly demonstrates how easily the little things like coffee and sodas can add up.

Chilton closed his message by reminding the audience how lucky we all are and how much life has improved in recent decades.

“Our lives, by any measure, are greater,” he said.

Shining Stars

Congratulations to the 2014 NACAS Member Award winners! Your creativity, dedication to auxiliaries, and commitment to higher education have impacted not only your schools but all of NACAS.

Outstanding Business Partner of the Year

College Foodservice Excellence
Jerry Clemmer, director of residential dining, University of Richmond

Committee Member of the Year
Rebecka Hall, graphic designer/PR and marketing coordinator, Old Dominion University

Communication Services Award
Olabisi “Bisi” Ladeji Okubadejo, counsel, Ballard Spahr LLP

David H. Lord Award for Community Service
Matthew Carmichael, police chief, UC Davis

Emerging Leader Scholarship
Ryan Greene, senior manager, Parking & Transportation Services, Georgia College and State University

Innovative Achievement in Auxiliary Services
Keith Wassum, associate vice chancellor for business services, UNC at Charlotte

Innovative Use of Technology
The Poly Trolley, Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, Inc.

Regional Mentor: East
Margarida Vieira, CASP, director, university services, Bridgewater State University

Regional Mentor: West
Mark Miller, associate director, facilities and operations, University of Idaho

Regional Rising Star: Central
Julie Copeland, director of retail operations, Kirkwood Community College

Regional Rising Star: East
Wesley Guerrier, transportation coordinator, Morgan State University

Regional Rising Star: South
Robert Walker, director of business services and systems, UNC – Greesboro

Regional Rising Star: West
Jill Wiegert, CASP, assistant director, student union, Fort Lewis College

Silver Torch Award
Patty Eldred, CASP, director, AFS Auxiliary Services, University of Vermont

Silver Torch Award
Brad Hitti, director of auxiliary services, 
Fort Lewis College

Julie Ahlgren
Julie Ahlgren, editor of College Services magazine, serves the association community through her role as a content strategist at Naylor Association Solutions. Ahlgren graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a specialization in online media and design. She started her career with Naylor in 2007 and began partnering with NACAS on its communications and publications in 2009. Outside of work, Ahlgren enjoys traveling to new destinations and using her journalism skills to record her experiences through writing and photography.

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By Dr. Kathleen Carey-Fletcher