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MIDWest Conference 2018 Recap – “Just Keep Swimming”

Thank you to all the Iowa ACAC members who made it to Dubuque for the 2018 MIDWest Conference! Around 400 admissions professionals from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas attended, making it a great opportunity to learn, network, and have a little fun!

The conference got off to a unique start with the Iowa ACAC Professional Development Committee hosting its very successful inaugural “Middle Management University” as a pre-conference session. Attendees learned about changes in leadership, diversity and inclusion in higher education, and heard from a panel of admissions professionals with varying master degrees. The program ended with an impactful panel of “bosses” - Josh Kite, Coe College; Todd Coleman, Wartburg College; and Anne Kramer, Drake University - who shared about all they have learned throughout their years of managing employees.  

This year’s conference had a great representation of Iowa ACAC members and offered a variety of sessions ranging from discussion about dual enrollment in high schools to how schools are communicating with their LGBTQ population of prospective students. Another addition this year was including roundtable discussions in which attendees came together to discuss hot topics and exchange ideas.

Keynote speaker Alan Feirer, of Group Dynamic, caught the group’s attention through his engaging, action-oriented address. He left giving us all a question to consider – “Everything you do makes a person’s day better or worse. What are you going to do with that power?”

We all know that the annual conference is not all work, but a little bit of play, too. Conference attendees enjoyed some entertainment at the Diamond Joe Casino with Dueling Pianos as the welcome social and Junk FM as the Sunday evening social.

Iowa ACAC celebrated its 70th birthday at the state meeting along with recognizing some outstanding admission and high school professionals.

State Meeting Award Winners:

  •          Admission Professional of the Year:  Tara Winter, Wartburg College
  •           School Counselor of the Year:  Amy Denholm, Cedar Falls High School
  •           Rising Stars:  Alex Christensen, Coe College and Gabriel Hernandez-Acosta, Mount Mercy University
  •          Michael Barron Impact Award:  Amy Christenson - winner, Tom Heiar, Alia Jomison, Gabriel Hernandez-Acosta, Josh Kite, and Joe Slocum
Tom Paulsen was voted in as President-Elect and Josh Kite as Treasurer-Elect. We also welcomed four new committee chairs:
  •           College Day/College Night: Erik Ryan, Mount Mercy University
  •           Inclusion, Access, and Success Co-Chairs:  Juana Hollingsworth, University of Northern Iowa, and Jesus Lizarraga, Iowa State University
  •          Conference Planning:  Mallory Luensmann, Wartburg College

Doug Bannon, Kirkwood Community College, was honored by the Association as he heads into retirement with a lifetime achievement award commemorating his 33 years in the Admissions profession.

One of the most impactful parts of the conference is bringing a wide range of people together. We wanted to share the view of the MIDWest Conference from a first time attendee:

"As I round out my first full year in Admissions, I was excited at the opportunity to attend the MIDWest Conference with our team. Going into this experience, I was given pieces of advice around what to expect, what to look forward to, and how to be engaged and challenged. I was eager to attend many of the offered sessions and was pleased to learn about new perspectives and ideas through the lens of our peers. A favorite session of mine was titled “Circles, Starbucks, and Guitars – A Different Perspective on Content Strategy,” led by Aaron Blau. This session was focused on learning how to stand out in a crowd, specifically being related to making your institution effective in messaging and various strategies to do so. One of the main takeaways after I reflected on my first conference experience was that I felt enthusiastic for the opportunities to come. I found it very inspiring that we could come together as a group with a common goal and were able to share that with each other. I felt a strong sense of camaraderie, not only within my own Admissions team, but within the profession as a whole. Overall, the MIDWest Conference was a refreshing experience that provided perspectives, gave me the opportunity to connect with new people, and to leave feeling excited to dive in further. As the summer progresses and the new cycle begins, I look forward to further professional development opportunities and all that is to come!"


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