Since 1997, the National Association of Branch Campus Administrators (NABCA) Annual Conference has been held in April. I’ve known about it and went to it as a Member since 2008 and I’ve planned for and coordinated it as Staff since 2012. So why do I look forward to and long for the month of May... every year?!?
NABCA is one of our Best Gurl, inc clients, I serve as Executive Director, and we provide support services for the Association Members. NABCA helps administrators, staff and faculty in higher education advocate for and accelerate the growth of their locations. The Association provides this through published research, professional development, a peer reviewed journal, and committee participation opportunities for the unique needs of higher ed professionals at off-site locations, and of course, the Annual Conference!
Most people only about the traditional college or university campus, or what is known as the “parent campus.” It typically has 18-19-year-old freshmen, graduate programs, and multiple colleges of academic study. It’s where most people go for higher education. Then, you have “off-site” locations; it may be called a “branch campus,” a “center,” a “satellite,” or a “regional campus, center or satellite.” No two are exactly the same or have the same name. Some higher ed institutions only have one... others have multiple, sometimes in other states or countries. There are some things they have in common; however.
They are established and located where there is a community need for higher education by people who cannot go to or live on the parent campus as 18-year old freshmen. Most likely, students are 24-older, work full-time, have families, are retired or are still in the military, and/or are reentering the workforce after an extended absence, and they most often pay their own way.
Some locations offer one or two academic programs only; others may offer more than that... very few offer all academic programs that the parent campus offers.
The administrator does... everything! If students want to start an organization, they call the Administrator’s office. If the community wants to establish a new program or scholarship, they call the Administrator’s office. If the toilets are backed up... right, the Administrator’s office (laughing). He or she handles everything that individual Vice Presidents, Deans, Department Chairs, Recruiters, etc. handle at the parent campus.
It’s a different life with different needs. Are you starting to get a picture?
NABCA is the only professional association with an Annual Conference that meets the unique needs of all personnel at off-site locations. It’s the biggest event they hold all year. And that brings me back to the Annual Conference... and my love of May!
Throughout the process; before, during and after the Conference, we’re asking and waiting for decisions from the Executive Committee. Decisions about the Annual Conference, an upcoming Webinar, the new Member recognition, or the next issue of the Access Journal. Lots of times, there are differing opinions... which makes our jobs LOTS of fun (laughing)!
As of now, Emily (Hedrick, the Best Gurl, inc “Communicator") and I have a Conference Action Item List with 120+ items on it that we work on! Everything from planning and conducting the September Site Visit to select the hotel and Conference Dinner location for the Conference that is 2-years out, to arranging hotel rooms and airport transportation for the Executive Committee Members at the upcoming Conference! It wouldn’t be so bad if the Annual Conference was the only thing we did for NABCA.
The “Great Questions Forum” discussion board/list serve goes down. The Access Journal editors want a special email blast to go out. Searching for a place once we get to the Conference site to find fresh flowers and candy for the Expo tables. Working with the company that’s building our new Member Management System and Website. The Research Committee wants to do a survey... and so does the Membership Committee. Setting up for the next Executive Committee Meeting. Making last minute arrangements for the new participants in the Branch Campus Leadership Institute (BCLI) Orientation and for the current BCLI participant presentation and graduation. A potential new member calls to say she can’t pay by credit card online and wants to mail a check, would I give her the mailing address? It’s right there on the website... beside the phone number (laughing). An applicant for the Innovation Award wants more information about the program.
From the beginning of June until the end of April. Every year... that’s why I love May. The newly elected Executive Committee doesn’t come on board until July. The Site selection geniuses we work with, EMC Meetings & Events (Sherry and Jody) are doing their magic and sending out RFPs for the 2-year away Conference. We don’t have to do anything for next year’s Conference because the website is updated and the call for proposals, partnerships application, and registration are updated. The June-April buildup and execution are over. We don’t have to start planning Orientation for the new Executive Committee until next month... and, in May, we can just... breathe.
Of course, it would be far simpler and less frantic if NABCA was the only client we had. In the midst of everything we do for NABCA, we’re also running all over the country to speak, do organizational assessments, facilitate strategic planning, formulate communication plans, and provide executive coaching for our other academic, corporate and non-profit clients; and of course, we’re writing our next books, plays and films! Have computer and smartphone will travel!
So, I’m happy to see May finally arrive! I have time to sit in the backyard and watch the sun rise. Go out to dinner with a friend and not glance at my watch every few minutes to make sure I can get home to bed and get up before the birds in the morning to start work. Watch something on TV with Thom... or me watch TV and the TV watch Thom (laughing)! Talk on the phone with my best friends. Knit. Read. And most of all, I love May because I can finally... SLEEP!! At least, until June, when we start gearing up again to take care of one of our favorite clients, the National Association of Branch Campus Administrators!