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ACUHO-I and Social Media – A Natural Partnership

If you spend any time engaging in conversation with colleagues you will often hear the buzz terminology of social media invade the dialogue. ACUHO-I has sensed that trend and in an effort to increase its memberships social media presence and usage began a tradition at our conference that many hope will be around for a long time coming.

This past annual conference we welcomed our first Social Media Expert in Residence, Eric Stoller. Building off previous efforts, the intent with our first Expert in Residence was to provide a platform for dialogue, discussion and education around our professional, and at times personal, usage of social media. Eric Stoller, among other things, is the student affairs and technology blogger for Inside Higher and is a nationally known thought leader, writer, and consultant on using social media in higher education to create connections and enhance communication.

I had the chance to catch up with Eric about a week after his time with us in New Orleans. Please feel free to watch as he shares his thoughts about how our association is using social media, his insights from our wonderful Annual Conference and Exposition, and his challenges to us to continue to push forward with what we are doing with social media.

What Are Your Six Words?

Last week, as we closed a fantastic ACUHO-I Annual Conference & Exposition, I had the honor of speaking to attendees and sharing the results of the ACUHO-I Six Word Memoir project.

If you remember, I asked our members to share, in six words, an answer to the question, “What does it mean to work in student housing?” We received more than 200 responses that ranged from gut-busting funny to tear-inducing touching and everything in between. In my presentation I was able to highlight some of them — and we are working on compiling them all so everyone can see them.

In the meantime, though, I wanted to share the image from the final slide. The graphic below (you can download a printable PDF here) compiles all the submitted entries, sorts through the words, and then displays them in different sizes based on how often they were used. You probably aren’t surprised to see words like “student,” “lives,” “community,” and “educating” rise to the top. But look closely at some of those other words: “future,” “creating,” “educating,” and “change.” Finally, a bit smaller, you see “sleep,” “growth,” “duty,” opportunity,” and “passion.”

Thanks to everyone who submitted their Six Word Memoir. Here’s to continually writing our story every day of the year.

Theory and Practice, Together

Parts of college student housing are more practice than theory; skills that can’t be taught, only learned. But much of what we think of as strictly practice is, of course, based in theory. And when you don’t know how the practice works, or if you need to prove it can work, theory and research are your allies. For anyone in this field, Maureen E. Wilson, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Higher Education and Student Affairs at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, is a benefactor.

The Research and Publication Award recognizes a person who has made significant contributions to the body of research and knowledge in the housing profession; Wilson certainly fits that definition. She recieved her Bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College in Michigan; went to Michigan State University for her Master’s, then Ohio State University for her Ph.D. Wilson, whose research interests center on college students, student affairs, and teaching, has published numerous articles, book chapters, reports on her work. She also teaches the student affairs professionals of tomorrow at BGSU, on topics ranging from student development to instruction. Wilson was among the authors of Recruitment and Retention of Entry-Level Staff in Housing and Residence Life, a report supported by the ACUHO-I Commissioned Research Committee. This information was sorely needed in this field, and ACUHO-I members were excited to view the report. Among Wilson’s current research subjects is parental notification for alcohol violations in higher education, a fraught subject on many college campuses. When articles, chapters and reports on that topic begin to appear, the profession will be eager to peruse them. Practice is the stuff that gets you through each day; the foundation of practice, however, is theory.


Truth Becoming Reality

On Sean J. Pierce’s Facebook page, his favorite quote is: “In the dark, it is easy to pretend, that the truth is what it ought to be,” a lyric from The Phantom of the Opera piece “Music of the Night.” Pierce, however, is someone who is working hard to make the truth more closely match reality, in the dark or in the light.

Pierce began his housing career at Frostburg State University as a resident assistant, and then a graduate resident director. While he was there, he earned is Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. In 2000, Pierce began working for Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and in 2004 he moved to the Jupiter Campus.

Summing up Pierce’s activities from recent years is difficult; it seems unlikely he’s had much free time since the early 2000s.  He has been very involved in NACURH, specifically his region’s chapter, SAACURH, as well as SEAHO. In 2010, Pierce was recognized as the Hallenbeck Distinguished Service Award Winner for SAACURH. At the Jupiter Campus, Pierce serves as a mentor to GLBTQ students, has supported Safe Zone training, and served as the adviser to the campus Day of Silence project. On the national level, Pierce has been on the Talking Stick Writers Committee for several years, helping to pitch and vet story ideas. He has also served on the EBI Task Force and is a member of the GLBT Network.

The Judy Spain Award, named for a dedicated NACURH and ACUHO-I member who was a mentor to many honors a person who has contributed to the GLBT community through positive growth, development and educational opportunities. Pierce has done all this and more. Through his assistance to ACUHO-I and the profession as a whole, Pierce is helping make the truth what it ought to be.

This Will Be Inadequate to the Task

It would be impossible to list all the ways Connie Carson has contributed to ACUHO-I without  this blog entry looking like a curriculum vitae. So readers should know this: There is more to write than we could fit here, both in committees served, conference sessions presented, articles written, and hearts and minds inspired. This entry, no matter how effusive and detailed, will be inadequate to summarize Carson’s involvement in ACUHO-I. You’ve been warned.

We can however, say this: Carson is the vice president for student life at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina; previously she was assistant vice president for campus services and planning at Wake Forest University. She was also the chief housing officer at Wake Forest. Carson has been chair of the Foundation Board and ACUHO-I president. Among her fellow Executive Board members, Carson was known to have high expectations, but she balanced those expectations with an affable manner and sense of humor. She’s a person you want to work hard for, and she expects no less of herself than she does of others. Whether in student affairs or another profession, anyone could learn a lot from Carson’s leadership style. Fittingly, she is receiving the James C. Grimm Leadership and Service Award, which recognizes an individual who has devoted professional time and effort to strengthening the Association with dedicated service and outstanding leadership. Those words, perhaps, sum up Carson better than a resume ever could.

New Orleans Restaurants to Experience

The 2011 ACUHO-I Conference and Exposition in New Orleans starts next week, and the Local Arrangements Committee is planning to show you an amazing time.

One thing people always remember about New Orleans is the food. Do not come to the conference with a diet; get ready to experience some amazing meals. Here are some things you must try: gumbo, red beans, jambalaya, po-boy sandwiches (fried catfish or shrimp are local favorites), crawfish etouffee, muffalettas, beignets, and bananas Foster.

Where can you find these dishes? Here is a small selection of the eateries New Orleans has to offer:

Mulate’s: The Original Cajun Restaurant (201 Julia Street)
Located within walking distance of the hotel and conference center, this cheerful restaurant offers  traditional Cajun cuisine with an atmosphere-live music and dancing-to match.

NOLA Restaurant (534 Saint Louis Street)
One of three Emeril Lagasse establishments in the city, NOLA offers upscale takes on Cajun favorites. How does fried green tomatoes with citrus-poached shrimp, baby arugula and white remoulade sauce; a garlic-crusted drumstick with crimini mushrooms and beurre rouge; and, for dessert, a mint julep mousse sound?

Mother’s Restaurant (401 Poydras Street)
Mother’s creates classic Cajun-Creole comfort food in quantity; visit their website to see the estimated poundage of their yearly roast beef and buscuit output, among other foodstuffs. The outside is nondescript and the inside is humble, but it doesn’t get more real than this.

Brennan’s Restaurant (417 Royal Street)
A New Orleans institution since 1946, Brennan’s is old school, with tuxedoed waiters, read leather chairs and glass chandeliers. Known for their brunch and dinner offerings, Brennan’s is not for the faint of heart or those trying to diet. Eggs Hussarde–poached eggs on toast with bacon and Merchand de Vin sauce (made with wine, butter and beef gravy)  is a house specialty, as well as a selection of cocktails appropriate for any time of day.

ACME Oyster House (724 Iberville Street)
While Brennan’s has a claim to longevity, ACME has them beat by 36 years. Established since 1910, ACME is best-known (and reportedly best in class) for their raw oysters. If raw oysters are your thing, ACME is the place for you. The line can be long, so allow time for your ACME experience.

Johnny’s Po-Boys (511 Saint Louis Street)
The sign marking Johnny’s Po Boys features a skinny little man attempting to eat a po boy as large as himself. This is not false advertising. The portions are huge (check Yelp reviewers’ photographic proof). The sandwiches come in many forms, including alligator sausage, oyster, pastrami and bacon and eggs.

Port of Call (838 Esplanade Avenue)
While burgers aren’t known to be a NOLA specialty, they are at Port of Call, as are the monsoons, highlighter-colored fishbowl-style drinks. You may have to wait, so plan on nursing a monsoon while you do so.

These are only a few of your many options. Enjoy New Orleans!

Giving Back, Getting Back

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the Annual Conference and Exposition lies a gem. In between attending programming sessions, listening to the outstanding speakers, visiting our wonderful corporate partners or reconnecting with old friends, you are encouraged to find your way to the ACUHO-I Foundation booth, on the second floor of the conference center near the escalators.

As part of the conference experience, attendees have the opportunity to bid on a bevvy of wonderful items donated by members and corporate partners. Ranging from conference registrations to airfare gift cards,  from iPad 2s to jewelry, there is sure to be something to pique your fancy. While the auction is open feel free to browse the goods and place a bid on an item – then keep checking back to see just how friendly your colleagues are at letting you keep that price.

If you prefer live auctions,  these occur daily at the booth. There is also a raffle. All funds raised from this conference long event go to support the ACUHO-I Foundation as they work to further the mission and vision of our great association.

Putting a few dollars down at the Foundation booth will give you a good chance of walking away with something great, and your chances of giving back to your professional association will be 100%.

Take a sneak peak at the silent auction item catalog.

Look here for more information about the ACUHO-I Foundation.

Viewing History in New Orleans

Greetings from Louisiana and the Local Arrangements Committee for the 2011 ACUHO-I Conference and Exposition in New Orleans. The event it right around the corner and we know that while you visit our wonderful city you will want to venture around and experience all that New Orleans has to offer. New Orleans has so much to see and do it is difficult to know where to begin. What follows is a listing and brief description of some of the most popular attractions in the Crescent City.

Aquarium of the Americas
Woldenberg Park – 504.861.2537
Explore the undersea world! A 400,000 gallon tank filled with the world’s most diverse collection of sharks and rays, an Amazon rain forest, a lively family of penguins and 60 other exhibits are sure to thrill.
Open 7 Days- Adults $13.50, Seniors $10.00, Children $6.50

Audubon Zoo and Botanical Gardens
6500 Magazine Street – 504.861.2537
The Audubon Zoo is one the nation’s best and most beautiful Zoos. It’s best to go to the Zoo in the morning when the animals are “out and about.” Plan to make a day of it. The Zoo has more than 1,500 species displayed in their natural habitat. The Zoo stands on 58 breath taking acres of moss covered, ancient oak trees and is beautifully landscaped with lush tropical gardens.
Open Daily – Adults $9.00, Seniors $5.75; Children $4.75 Read more

A Mardi Gras Welcome

Greetings ACUHO-I! Recently, as the Local Arrangements Committee continued to work hard in preparation for everyone’s arrival in July for the 2011 ACUHO-I Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisiana also celebrated Mardi Gras. The myths and stories about Mardi Gras are avidly discussed, and part of what makes it special is the way in which it is a celebration deeply rooted in Louisiana culture.

What really is Mardi Gras? “Fat Tuesday,” the main celebratory day of Mardi Gras (hence the name), began long before Europeans set foot in the Americas. In mid-February the ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia, a circus like festival very similar to the Mardi Gras of today. When Rome embraced Christianity, the early church leaders decided it was better to incorporate certain pagan rituals into the faith rather than attempt to abolish them altogether. Therefore, “Carnival” became a period of merriment that preceded the penance of Lent (beginning on Ash Wednesday), thus giving Christians a better understanding of the custom of Lent. Read more

Welcome from New Orleans

Hello everyone, and greetings from the great state of Louisiana! With Mardi Gras season upon us, and some of the smaller parades already rolling in cities and towns around the area, the pride of Louisiana is in top form. As the official blogger for the Local Arrangement Committee, let me assure you that everyone is getting excited in anticipation of the 2011 ACUHO-I Annual Conference & Exposition (commonly shortened to ACE) this July in New Orleans.

To help you prepare for your visit, in the coming months I will be sending blogs to showcase the sights and sounds of New Orleans, events to prepare for at the ACE, and ways to get involved while you are here. New Orleans is a city rich with diversity and history; culture, industry, architecture, mystery, festivals, food, music, and life. As a relatively recent newcomer to New Orleans, I can honestly say, there is no other place in the world more unique as New Orleans. At the bottom of this post I have attached a short teaser video for your viewing enjoyment.

Registration is open for the 2011 ACE in New Orleans, Louisiana (or simply ‘Nawlins, as we locals say). I hope you are able to attend and visit our wonderful city. More videos specific to the conference and New Orleans topics of interest to come. Stay tuned! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Charlotte’s Got a Lot: Downtown

In this last installment in our what-to-do-in-Charlotte series (what to do other than attend our conferences, of course) we’ll focus on the area immediately around the Westin Charlotte, our host hotel.

Actually, we’ll start by  talking about the Ember Grille, which is the Westin’s restaurant. Hotel restaurants get a bad rap, and sometimes this is for good reasons. Not so with the Ember Grille. It’s not cheap; entrees are $15-$22 for lunch, $18-$36 for dinner, and $18.99 for the breakfast buffet, but online reviewers, including the Yelp crowd, say Ember is generally worth it. Ember offers American food; sandwiches, steaks, fish, plus appetizers to share or for a light entree (hummus and veg, for example).

For cheaper eats that require no silverware, look to Matt’s Chicago Dog, at 435 Tyron Street. The address is a bit deceiving; Matt’s is located in a greenspace between several buildings and Tyron and College streets. To find it, go east from the Westin on College Street — a left turn from the front door. The greenspace will be in the block between Stonewall Street and East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Reviewers praise the all-beef hot dogs and noticeably fresh produce toppings. There are sandwiches available as well.

Sushi and Asian fusion can be found at Room 112 at 112 Tyron Street. Make a left out of the Westin onto College Street, turn left on 4th Street, then make a right on Tyron. Note, Room 112 is closed on Sunday. If sushi isn’t your thing, there are soups, salads, noodles and wok dishes as well.

Just want a treat and willing to walk a bit for it? Go to Crave Dessert Bar, 500 West 5th Street. Turn left from the Westin on College Street. Turn left on 5th Street, then go five blocks. There’s a full bar in addition to a menu of salads, sandwiches, and of course cupcakes, cakes and cheesecakes, in addition to other yummies.

Are you looking for something–a wine bar, a show, a decent bagel? Let me know, and I’ll try to find a place that’s handy to the Westin Charlotte.

Charlotte’s Got a Lot: Greasy Eats!

In this second installment of our what-to-do-in-Charlotte posts, we’re going to talk about the yummy noms that can be had in the area. Specifically, we’ll discuss the greasy spoons. we’ll worry about the silver spoon places on another day.

Our meetings and events manager, Lisa Martin, has made several trips to Charlotte while planning the 2010 conferences. She recommends Mert’s for their award-winning soul food. Mert’s is less out-of-the-way than some of the options below, so if you’re limited for time, this is a good option. At 214 College Street, it’s a straight 10-minute walk northeast from the Westin. Lisa warns that speed isn’t Mert’s selling point, but taste more than makes up for it.

My source for this list is, a site maintained by Jane and Michael Stern, who travel the country looking for out-of-the-way places to enjoy hot cuisine, not haute cuisine. How do they make this dream life work? By telling the rest of us about it. They have written books and articles about their finds, and won three James Beard journalism awards for their work. Here’s their recommendations for Charlotte:

Bar B Q King: At this drive-in eatery that allows you to never leave your car, the Sterns recommend the fried seafood, in every form the restaurant offers. It gets a “worth planning a day around” rating.

Bill Spoon’s Barbecue: Spoon’s is known for its yellow mustard slaw, which adds color and crunch to pulled pork sandwiches. It seems the Sterns and their followers rate every menu item highly, from the barbecued chicken to the banana pudding. It is really hard to type “banana pudding” without having any of that yummy stuff handy.

John’s Country Kitchen: Breakfast is the way to go here; pancakes, fried livermush and grilled biscuits are popular.

Lupie’s: This is one of those places where macaroni and cheese is, somehow, considered a vegetable. However, vegetables are also vegetables, and very tasty at Lupie’s. They have a vegetarian chili, in addition to the meat version, which the Sterns recommend. If you follow the link to the Sterns’ website, you can see one of the most beautiful photographs ever taken of a bacon cheeseburger.

Old Hickory House: There was no energy wasted on the ambiance here, but after sampling the slow-smoked pork butt, crispy-oily hushpuppies and goopy, meaty Brunswick stew, no one seems to care.

Penguin Drive-In: Have you ever wanted to eat a burger as big as your head? The Penguin Drive-In offers you this opportunity. The burger will be tasty too, as will the fries and deep-fried pickle chips. Once again, clicking the link will show you pictures of beautiful, massive burgers. The Penguin Drive-In also gets the Sterns’ highest rating: “Worth driving from anyplace.”

Price’s Chicken Coop: Not surprisingly, the fried chicken is recommended, but the Sterns also enjoyed the sweet potato pie, fried apple pie (in case regular apple pie was too healthy for you) and the Cheerwine available from a vending machine. There’s no place to eat-in, and aside from eating your car, the only other handy option is to sit on the side of the road with your cardboard-packaged chicken dinner. But it seems to be worth it, as Price’s also gets a “Worth driving from anyplace” rating.

A Flight of Gratitude: Day One of 362

When I was a young(er) professional, it was role modeled for me that I should give back to my profession. My supervisor in my first professional position was serving as GLACUHO president as I entered the field. I saw other entry-level staff volunteering on committees and hosting student staff conferences. Mentors made it clear to me that identifying my talents and skills was important and, most important, was determining how I could use them to assist within my department, division, university, and professional organizations.

As I’ve grown in the field, I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to serve that combined my skills, talent, and passion. Writing is an important piece of who I am; the opportunity to blog for ACUHO-I and several other professional blogs is an easy, fun way to contribute. I love social media; volunteering to teach people how to utilize Twitter at the conference was an engaging volunteer opportunity. Making connections and meeting new people is important to me; volunteering at registration was a good use of my time on Saturday morning.

Throughout the conference as I was thanked for things like those mentioned above, I noted that my reaction was almost always surprise. I’m surprised that people thank me for what I consider to be the opportunities given to me. I feel like I should be thanking them in turn (and often do) for what’s been given to me as a vehicle of professional and personal growth. I’m appreciative of these opportunities – they’ve helped me both expand and define who I am in our field.

I wrote last week about the 362 days a year that members of ACUHO-I aren’t at the Annual Conference and Exposition. I encouraged all of us – whether we attended ACE or not – to make the most of those 362 days and stay connected to our association. I’m taking my own challenge and intend to spend Day One demonstrating my gratitude by using time on the flight home from ACE to write thank you notes to the people who give me opportunities.

How will you spend Day One?

To Be Worthy of Ridicule!

ACUHO-I is mentioned in this Cronk of Higher Education article about conference romances. If there’s anyone out there mourning an Annual Conference romance (or friendship, or fling), perhaps this piece will be soothing:

ACUHO-I Conference Romance Ends Abruptly

If you feel like you didn’t represent yourself well, this article may be helpful:

Blistex Executive Makes Fool of Himself at Lip-Balm Conference

Expanding Networks, Strengthening Bonds

I’ve sat down to write a blog post about the Annual Conference and Exposition no fewer than five times. It’s difficult to find a few minutes alone at the conference and, for me, harder to switch gears from active learning to written reflection. I’ve snagged a few minutes at the hotel coffee shop this morning before sessions start to jot some notes (in true ACUHO-I ACE fashion, as soon as I typed that sentence, my former supervisor sat down with me and started chatting).

You’ve probably heard the analogy that ACE is like a family reunion. This does not do justice to the enthusiastic, emotional reunions taking place all over the hotels and convention centers. Former classmates, staff members, supervisors all converging in one location lends itself to lots of reunions, many of them involving two or more people rushing at each other across a room to hug. Just like a family reunion, there are the loud uncles, the crazy aunts, the wound-up cousins… and you love them all for the character they bring to the event.

We all have a residence life and housing family. If we’re lucky, they have stayed in the field and are at conferences with us. They are the people who know our professional history and hold pieces of our stories. They reflect back to us how much we have grown as people and as professionals. They are invaluable to our own journey and development.

During her keynote speech, Dr. Bertice Berry said, “Everybody in this room is not your competition. They are the only people who understand what you do.”

As we grow in this profession, our families should, too. By introducing friends and colleagues to other friends and colleagues, we expand our networks and tighten our bonds. We create overlapping support systems for one another and ourselves. I smile every time I overhear someone say, “Have you met…” because I know a new connection was sparked.

It’s an incredible feeling to feel so supported by people whom I only met this week. With every story of a challenge or problem I’m facing, people are quick to offer not only suggestions, but support. Business cards are stuffed in the back of my name badge from new connections and there are notes jotted in my program book of presenters with whom to follow up.

It’s an amazing thing, this network of support we’ve created, and more amazing to see it in action in Austin this week.