West Federation

Update from the West Federation

As I write this article, we are in the final stages of planning the West Federation’s Annual Regional Conference to be held February 5 and 6 at Metropolitan State University, Denver and Johnson and Wales University, Denver. We received a record number of 50 submissions, so the conference promises to be exciting and entertaining!

While making my own plans to attend this conference I started reflecting on why we do this. Why do we attend conferences such as CHRIE’s annual conference, our regional conferences, or others? What is the value for us? Yes, it is part of our job; it’s what we do. But who cares? Perhaps you’ve also asked yourself the same questions.

Well, I care. There is so much to gain from attending conferences. Yes, conferences are terrific opportunities to catch up with old friends, and make new ones – the networking is an extremely important component of conferences, and is often highlighted as a primary reason people attend. This networking allows us to establish relationships with colleagues from around the world for research and teaching purposes. We make long-lasting friends. The networking, although it is technically work, is also fun, and we need fun at conferences!

While networking may be the “lighter” side of conference attendance, there is also a “serious” side of attendance. We attend in order to develop ourselves professionally, in both research and in teaching. We obtain feedback about our research and receive guidance as to how to further that research or move in different directions. From my own personal experience, such feedback and guidance has proven invaluable over the years. With this research also come opportunities to learn new teaching skills and techniques that are ever changing in todays teaching environment. We attend because a lot of us have to – we need to build our curricula vitae; we need the presentation experience; and the conference proceedings so that we can show our universities that we are out there engaging with those in our industry, and helping to advance our fields. The conferences become an important component of our vitaes as we look for jobs, or try to obtain tenure and promotion.

The bottom line? Regardless of the reason for attending conferences, attending them is, to borrow a phrase from Martha Stewart (I know – I’m dating myself), “a good thing”. So, go out and attend! It’s a good thing, and we all care. See you at the next one.

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Michelle Millar
is President of the West Federation. Email Michelle.