This past Friday was the largest event our office coordinates, Faculty Convocation 2006, held the first day of faculty accountability for Spring semester. We had 630 people pre-registered (online via our database system) plus well over 120 walk-in registrants.
This has been a Maricopa event dating back to the era of chalk… I am not sure, but it was in place when I started working here in 1992. I remember all this fuss about “Convocation”, something I envisioned like some sort of graduation, cap and gown event for faculty, which struck me as odd since they all had one or more degrees, but then discovered it was simply a coming together after the holiday and New Year’s break, and often with a theme and/or keynote speaker, to kick start the new semester.
This year’s speaker was Vincent Tinto, from Syracuse University, who gave a well received, and well done session (the powerpoints are on the web site now, audio will be added later next week when we get them on CD). He speaks well and reaches faculty, both by his message, but also because as an experienced speaker, he actually speaks to an audience like a person, rather than reading notes or bullets dryly like a robot scholar. Plus he is a bit comic with self-effacing remarks, making fun of his New York accent, but hits strong provides relevant info, and comes with a message for the specific audience.
The session, which I am not summarizing since it will be there in audio, was strong on methods of increasing student engagement in learning, backed by both real stories and real data. And he kept the presentation part quick and to the point, maybe 40 minutes, before successfully having the audience get active with small group discussion followed by a rather interactive Q&A session, no small feat to pull off.
And somehow in there Tinto got on a roll (first on relating how he uses email for student contact) about being proudly being an unabashed Apple user. Towards the end of his session, in the Q&A session, he returned to the Apple quips for the 4th or 5th time (we’ll likely get some grumbles in the even evaluation), he blurts out something like, “it works well for me because I use a Mac, just like Alan Levine”.
Now how does big shot research and speaker like Tinto know of me much less my computer preference? I may have picked up one or two faculty reputation karma points.
And then in closing, he did something I have never seen a speaker do… her asked for our faculty to contact him with questions, ideas, arguments, and not only recited his email (his Apple must have good spam protection ;-), but gave out his office phone number.. and wait.. he then gave his home phone number to 700 people. I like it– I think he is almost daring the audience to interact with him.
There is more media that will be added to the Convocation web site, in addition to the keynote audio, we have materials from the 7 or so breakout sessions, I have a pile of photos to post, plus some podcast quick greetings I grabbed with my iRiver KPS recorder, and a video greeting from our Chancellor who was away in Washington DC (Dr. Glasper had a great line about urging Maricopa to go beyond just collaboration to a state of interdependence).
So the day went off great (I ducked out after lunch to head up to Strawberry) thanks to our wonderful MCLI staff who pulled off all the logisitics one rarely sees.