The following blog post is a guest post, written by a friend and colleague from the University of Manitoba, Neil Marnoch.
I’ve attended many conferences during my professional career and can safely say I have been nurtured by each of them. Regularly interacting with other professionals who do what I do renews my energy and focus and builds a feeling that the work I do is valued. Keynote addresses have been inspirational and informative. I always come back with a least one good idea – usually more – from the concurrent/peer led sessions. I am strengthened by discussions in formal groups, during breaks, over meals and other informal gatherings.
National and regional conferences, while both equally valued, are very different experiences. National – North American level – conferences are very large affairs ranging between 5000 and 8000 attendees. The scale of these conferences affords the ability to involve high-powered, well known and influential speakers. There are usually more concurrent sessions of interest than one can physically attend. New attendees can sometimes feel lost in a very large crowd. You may know some of the other attendees, but with the volume of people and the expansive spaces of the convention halls, you may not see but a few familiar faces. At most national events people disperse for meals and unless you have made arrangements to meet a friend, you’re likely on your own.
Regional conferences, on the other hand, are smaller and more intimate affairs. Although regional conferences do not have the abundance of sessions and choices available at the larger conferences, what they do offer is opportunities for real engagement. With attendees totalling 150 to 300, sessions are smaller. Breakfasts and lunches are usually included. Breaks are more intimate and it is easier to find those individuals that you really want to make a connection with. There are lots of opportunities for those starting out in the profession to meet up with people considered leaders in the field. Once the connections are made, they carry on and you may find yourself re-connecting at larger events. All of sudden the national conferences are not so intimidating.
The WARUCC Biannual Meeting is one such conference that affords opportunities for meaningful engagement. WARUCC 2013 will be held at the Delta Hotel in Winnipeg, June 24 – 27. This gathering will mark 50 years of western Canadian registrars and enrolment professionals getting together to share ideas and provide support as we have collectively grown in our profession and the ways we serve our students and institutions. This is reflected our theme: Connect – Engage – Grow Forward. Plan to attend and participate in discussions of matters that concern you on a daily basis. Be inspired by our keynote speakers. Meet old friends and make new connections. For further information, please visit our website at warucc.ca.
Registrar, University of Manitoba