Conference Theme to Address Difficult Dialogues
The New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U) will host the 22nd Annual Summer Institute from June 21–23, 2017 at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind. Administrators and faculty will gather for the three-day conference to discuss best practices, share challenges, and learn about successful programs at peer institutions. As all members of NAC&U closely align in size and mission, networking and conferences are one of the most treasured aspects of NAC&U because they allow members to learn about successful programs and initiatives that they can often implement on their home campuses.
This year’s theme, “Dialogue and Understanding: Conversations Across Difference,” will help participants become more comfortable engaging in difficult conversations. Frederick Lawrence, CEO and secretary of Phi Beta Kappa and an attorney, will give a plenary session on free speech and civility, and Libby Roderick, associate director of the Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, will speak about how to manage difficult dialogues in higher education.
In addition, leaders at Valparaiso will discuss their Civic Reflections program, which uses readings, images and videos to engage people in deep, productive conversation about issues that impact their communities and work in the world. Using Civic Reflections principles, participants will be guided in small group discussions on a variety of topics, such as politics, religion, and gender. The overall goal, in addition to having participants become more adept in these conversations, is to have campus teams discuss what needs to happen at their institutions and leave with a plan for making it happen.
The Summer Institute will also feature panels and presentations from faculty and administrators at Belmont University, Hamline University, Nazareth College, North Central College, The Sage Colleges, and Wagner College, including sessions on “Developing a Strategic Plan for Diversity,” “Resolving Conflict in the First-Year Classroom,” and Creating Inclusive Communities by Having Hard Conversations.”
NAC&U will also present the inaugural NAC&U Award for Student Excellence, which recognizes students for their knowledge and experience in liberal arts, professional studies or experiential learning, and/or civic engagement. Amy Ontai of St. Edward’s University, Rebecca Carman of Ohio Northern University, and Samantha Tirrell of The Sage Colleges, all of whom are graduating seniors, are the first recipients of the prize.