Behind the Scenes: The 2016 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference

I have observed many times that one of the biggest surprises for me as I moved from someone who uses EDUCAUSE resources to someone involved in creating them was seeing exactly how much hard work goes into the process. Whether we’re talking about our events, our reports, our benchmarking, or our constituent groups, significant work behind the scenes from staff and campus volunteers makes these things seem less complicated than they actually are.

My first big insight was at the annual conference in Indianapolis last year. I imagined that, especially toward the end of the event, staff would mostly be exhausted (they were) and would be celebrating what was a great success (it was, but they weren’t). To my surprise, when staff weren’t busy making sure the annual conference in 2015 went well, they were already meeting to plan for the EDUCAUSE annual conference in 2016. That’s because we have remarkable staff, but also because the annual conference requires that much advance planning. For example, we are currently involved in the considerable work required for selecting a site for our 2026 conference.

My latest insight was participating in a face-to-face meeting of the 2016 program committee as they tackled the impossible task of selecting 220 concurrent and poster sessions from the 683 proposals we received. This involves not only choosing excellent proposals but also working to ensure a diverse balance of topics and institution types whenever possible. Again, it’s a tremendous task that most attendees never see. Please join me in thanking the 2016 program committee.

The 2016 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference Program Committee

The 2016 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference Program Committee

And thank you to the EDUCAUSE annual conference program staff. I share this as one representative example of the considerable behind-the-scenes efforts that make our events and resources sometimes seem so effortless.

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John O'Brien is President and CEO of EDUCAUSE.

© 2016 John O'Brien. The text of this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.