by Sue Eveland, Assistant VP for Enrollment Management and University Registrar, University of Oregon, and 2016 OrACRAO Planning Committee Chair
This year, for the first time in OrACRAO’s 28-year history, the OrACRAO Executive Board made a decision to hand off the annual conference planning to a Conference Planning Committee. Prior to the 2016 conference, as is probably the case with other single-state associations, the entire event was managed directly by the board members with the help of a few additional volunteers from the membership. While the conferences were always stellar, the demands of planning left little time for the Board to accomplish other much-needed work for the organization.
The Executive Board reached out to several Past Presidents of the association to identify the “inaugural” chair of this new ad hoc committee. Once a volunteer emerged, a committee was formed, including a co-chair who shadowed the chair in preparation for taking over the job the following year.
A strong theme with an eye-catching logo made a fun foundation for the 2016 Conference. The conference was held in Eugene, OR, which is often referred to as the Emerald City. A design element in the logo changed the “r” in OrACRAO to OzACRAO and the Wizard of Oz theme was heartily embraced. In addition to liberal use of the logo on the web, email blasts, print materials and elsewhere, here are some examples of how the committee used the theme:
- The Business Partner Coordinator renamed all the sponsorships with Oz flair: the Great Oz Package, the Ruby Slippers Package, the Over the Rainbow Package, with additional reps referred to as “Tin Man, Lion or Scarecrow” and additional guests as “Munchkins.”
- To count off conference participants for the traditional icebreaker, yellow Lego bricks were numbered and each person drew one out of a basket on the way into the opening session. Later, colleagues with like numbers gathered at yellow brick signs around the room for friendly introductions followed by a fun game of Wizard Mad Libs.
- Many sessions featured theme name: “Petitions, Exceptions, and Waivers… Oh, My!” and “The Rainbow of Enrollment Management Technology” are two examples.
- Attendees were encouraged to dress as in Oz for the gala; the ballroom featured emerald up-lights along the perimeter; the stage included a big curtain like the wizard had; there were props for photo opportunities. (We don’t need to tell anyone about the OrACRAO singing and dancing that ensued!)
Looking back, the 2016 OrACRAO Conference was well-attended and got much positive feedback. Best of all, the Executive Board had time during the year to work on strategic planning and other board initiatives.