Friday, October 05, 2007

Happy Trails to Austin

I spent half of last week in Austin, Texas, for the annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). I've now attended seven years in a row, plus twice previously. Some musings and observations, in no particular order or priority . . .
  • Airplanes out here don't seem to be as nice as the ones I was used to in the West. When I flew to Oregon in July on United and last week on American, I was surprised at how old and unattractive the planes were. I guess Alaska Air spoiled me.
  • Customer service in flight continues to erode. On a two hour flight from Fort Wayne to Dallas, there were no snacks of any kind, though they graciously offered to sell us some trail mix for $3. A blanket only cost $5. Such a deal.
  • I went to a pre-conference workshop on how to write a strategic recruitment plan. It was an okay presentation. The bad news is that I didn't really get what I was looking for. The good news is that, after listening to the experts, I guess the plans I've been writing have already been on the money, though I need to do more data-driven planning and analysis.
  • Over the last 3+ years, I've been privileged to get to know Beverly Henry Wheeler. She has just finished her term of service on the board of directors for NACAC, having been president the year before last. During her presidential year, she was a keynoter at the PNACAC conference I helped put together. She has been an inspiration to me as she works to encourage people, seeks to do what's right and lives out her faith consistently. If God opens the door for me to serve in leadership again, I hope I can do it half as well as Beverly.
  • Austin, particularly Sixth Street, reminded me of New Orleans. This is not necessarily a compliment.
  • Austin has 1.5 million bats that live under a bridge and take off each night at dusk. Many of my colleagues made a point of venturing to the bridge to watch this happen. This proves that you can turn anything into a tourist attraction.
  • Really, though, it doesn't matter where a conference is held . . . you're probably only going to see about a five square block area around the convention center and your hotel. So long as there are a good variety of restaurants close by, there's not much difference between meetings in Tampa and those in Kansas City.
  • This was my first conference since moving to Indiana. It was a bit strange to walk into the Indiana association's meeting and know only three people in the room. When we did introductions, though, the president and past-president were gracious in starting a round of applause for me, so that was a nice welcome. I did really enjoy connecting with my friends from the Northwest and from some of the Christian colleges around the country.
  • I was able to spend time again with Mark Kormann, a friend from Bethel University in Minnesota. Mark uses a wheelchair, which is pretty unusual in the world of admissions. He is an extraordinary individual in terms of what he has overcome and his patience in the face of obstacles. When I walked with him and two of his colleagues from an extremely good dinner to their hotel, through a city that is supposed to be pretty progressive and up-to-date, there were roadblocks at every turn, culminating with a sidewalk that was completely impassible due to a light post or power line right in the center of the walkway. So many hindrances that I don't even consider as I move around day-to-day.
  • As usual, the ecumenical service was very meaningful. It, along with the Christian Fellowship meeting, are like an oasis. It's especially cool to encounter fellow believers who work on secular campuses.
  • I sure wish I'd had some more free time during the day so that I could visit the LBJ Presidential Library.
  • While our conference was going on, the convention center also hosted the 2007 Women's Flat Track Derby Association's championship tournament, The Texas Shootout. I have to say that I have seldom seen such a frightening group of women and I don't think I've ever seen such a vast collection of tattoos. In fact, the Rat City Rollergirls squad's website actually has a feature titled "Tattoo Who?" with various close-ups of tattoos and the question, "How well do you know the Rat City Rollergirls? Can you identify the rollergirl above by her tattoo alone?" I have since learned that the Kansas City Roller Warriors won the prestigious event and are 2007 champions.

See? I told you the notes were in no particular order or priority!

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