by Michele Kersten-Hart
Oakland Community College
Bloomfield Hills, WI
Holy Toledo! NCMPR’s District 3 fall conference, “You’ll Do Better in Toledo,” hit it out of the park.
In fact, the conference opened on a Sunday evening at the Fifth Third Park, where the minor league team, the Toledo Mud Hens, play baseball. We had the opportunity to learn more about the team and the mascots from Director of Sales Frank Kristie. The evening included hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and most importantly, a great chance to get caught up with colleagues from District 3.
First thing Monday morning, Kevin Budelmann, president and co-owner of Peopledesign, opened the conference with a session on “Education in an Era of Choice.” He shared a lot of interesting facts. Of particular note, he mentioned that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were all university dropouts. He also shared a quote by Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” The message for us as community college marketers? I think we need to ask ourselves: Are we adapting and responding to the ever-changing needs of our students?
Breakout sessions focused on a mix of topics, including social media, messaging, branding and more. Indeed, there was a little something for everyone. Later in the conference lineup was a student panel with four students from Terra State Community College in Ohio. The students answered questions from the audience, and they didn’t hold back. One noteworthy item they confirmed was that they don’t actually read their student email. Instead, they prefer important communication via text message. Good to know!
The District 3 Medallion awards were celebrated in a luncheon, and as always, it was great fun watching the winners accept their awards in recognition of their hard work and creativity. There’s so much talent among our District 3 members!
Another highlight of the District 3 conference was the opportunity to recognize three individuals who stand out among our peers for the work they do on behalf of our profession and to advance the community college mission. Congratulations to: Jessica Crotty, assistant director of communications at Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois, Communicator of the Year; Dr. Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, Pacesetter of the Year; and George Del Belcher, social media specialist at Jackson College in Michigan, Rising Star. You all inspire me.
The District 3 conference closed out with guest speaker Chef Scott Bowman, owner of Foul & Fodder, a farm-to-table restaurant with several locations in the Toledo area. His message was about taking chances – another important reminder for those of us in community college marketing who need to take chances every day to ensure that we effectively tell the community college story.
I’ve always enjoyed NCMPR district conferences as a way to connect with my peers from the region and to take away some great nuggets of information that I can apply back on my own campus. That was definitely the case at this year’s District 3 conference. Next up, I look forward to having the same great opportunities at our national conference in March. I hope to see you there!
Michele Kersten-Hart is the manager of multimedia and web services at Oakland Community College in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and immediate past president of NCMPR.