The bright side in uncertain times
Competency cultivation and campus connection were themes at this year’s Professional Development Conference.
May 18, 2017
The King Center was packed with more than 375 Roadrunners learning best practices and networking with others this past Tuesday for the Eighth Annual Professional Development Conference.
Amber Mozet, committee cochair, and Danielle Farrell, committee cochair and event coordinator, kicked it all off by welcoming attendees. Planning committee member Kathleen Jewby discussed the conference theme, “Optimistic Uncertainty,” before introducing MSU Denver President Steve Jordan who shared some of the challenges faced by taking the school from college to University.
“Optimism is the antidote for the euphoria of the highs of being on top, and of the lows when you don’t know if you’re going to get there,” Jordan said.
He then introduced keynote speaker, Bryan Alexander, renowned futurist, researcher and consultant in the field of how technology transforms education.
Alexander’s far-ranging discussion looked at trend analyses and the intersections of higher education with broad advances of society. He discussed the globalization of higher education as a remix of what college means in a fund-strapped environment, as well as the transforming technological and labor situations students will enter.
“From the impact of automation to the convergence of virtual reality and augmented reality into a mixed reality, we’re entering new territory,” Alexander said. “Our student body is changing; has changed. How do we respond as higher education professionals?”
Attendees at both conference sessions then chose among MSU Denver Talks (20-minute groupings of three presentations), workshops (hour-long traditional presentations), or rotating roundtable discussions. Breakout session topics ranged from technology or progress and innovation, future trends in higher education, personal wellness, learned optimism, and diversity and equity.
For attendee Truong Nguyen, desktop systems engineering manager, the benefits of attending are why he keeps coming back to each year’s conference – now for his fourth time.
“The keynote was incredibly relevant to understanding the atmosphere of what’s happening worldwide in higher education, and the sessions share takeaways for collaboration,” he said.
“In general, the conference helps people solve problems and develop their careers. It’s great.”