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Business Officer Magazine
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Western Reunion

The City by the Bay attracted a record number of attendees to the NACUBO 2010 Annual Meeting. Business officers won’t soon forget the energy, events, and education that contributed to visionary thinking and professional connections—old and new.

The following NACUBO staff members and consultants contributed to this report: Mary Bachinger, Jeanne Cure, Bryan Dickson, Bill Dillon, Bobbie Dillon, Marta Perez Drake, Anne Gross, Karla Hignite, Susan Jurow, John Lively, Michele Madia, Sue Menditto, Kenneth Redd, David Rupp, Carole Schweitzer, Maryann Terrana, Dorothy Wagener, and Tadu Yimam.

Annual Meeting Coverage

The biggest gathering in NACUBO's history took place July 24-27 at the Moscone West conference center in San Francisco. NACUBO's 40th annual meeting drew 2,626—the highest total attendance ever, well beyond the 2,024 total in Chicago in 2008. Included in the total were 1,572 paid registrants, a number second only to the 1,630 paid registrants in Chicago. Counterintuitive as the numbers appear during an economic slump, attendees seemed to feel the need to reunite with trusted peers for support, synergy, and new strategies.

“This year's theme, 'Building Bridges,' is about San Francisco,” said NACUBO President and CEO John Walda. “But more importantly, it's about the work you do. Your job descriptions as business officers should include the responsibility for 'bridging gaps.' With diminishing state allocations for public colleges and universities, endowment losses, and the impending end to federal stimulus funds, topped by unprecedented student demand, you've done a remarkable job under the circumstances you've faced.

“Difficult financial times make the work of NACUBO all the more important,” Walda continued. He noted the organization's focus in the past year on economic issues, such as the annual surveys of endowments and tuition discounting; legislative and public policy advocacy efforts, including work on the student aid and health-care reform bills and the IRS initiative; and focus on the workplace of the future with a new census that profiles CBOs and CFOs in higher education.

The opening event at the California Academy of Sciences set the tone for innovation and big thinking. Guests marveled over the wonders of nature in the world's greenest building, which houses an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and rain forest all under one “living” roof—with six inches of soil acting as natural insulation.

Annual meeting keynote speakers presented their own broad visions: economist and professor Laura Tyson on important factors for recovery and journalist Lisa Ling on international social change.

Some societal improvement on the micro level came in the form of NACUBO's community service project at San Francisco's Everett Middle School. More than 100 annual meeting attendees planted trees, painted the cafeteria, and assembled library furniture to renovate the facilities.

And, demonstrating the power of a creative idea, a short video during the opening general session featured College and University Shirt Day at Hill-Hope Elementary, an inner-city school in Atlanta. With support from NACUBO and several corporate partners, more than 100 campuses donated T-shirts and fact sheets for the May program, designed to plant the dream of college with children there.

READ ONLINE EXTRA COVERAGE of the annual meeting in Business Officer Plus.

New at this year's annual meeting was the Executive Exchange for Research Universities, a daylong series of sessions designed exclusively for senior business officers from public or independent research universities and medical centers. All told, participants could select from an array of 72 concurrent sessions in 8 tracks, including programming designed for community colleges, small institutions, and comprehensive and doctoral institutions.

Here are highlights from the record-breaking reunion of business officers in San Francisco.