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Southern Disclosure

The spirit of Florida’s early explorers infused the NACUBO 2011 Annual Meeting in Tampa, which revealed to attendees visionary ideas to plot their institutions’ future courses.

ANNUAL MEETING COVERAGE

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At the opening session of NACUBO's 2011 Annual Meeting, held July 9–12in Tampa, NACUBO President and CEO John Walda called on attendees to consider the quests of long-ago leaders like Juan Ponce de Leon. Florida's first Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon was said to have been searching for the fountain of youth, but discovered instead land he called "La Florida" (or the place of flowers). "This shows us that we may not always find what we set out to," said Walda, "but the spirit of discovery often inspires innovation nonetheless."

READ AN ONLINE EXTRA, Concurrent Sessions Cover Compliance and Collaboration,” in Business Officer Plus.

It was clear from the numbers that meeting participants recognized the need for an open-minded look at fresh ideas. NACUBO's 41st annual meeting drew a total of 2,484 attendees and exhibitors. Of the total, 275 were attending an annual meeting for the first time and 85 were coming from 25 other countries.

In keeping with the meeting's "Charting New Courses" theme, Walda underscored the idea that "now more than ever we must rely on our creativity and ability to innovate to tackle our stubborn times."

Adding a dose of hands-on reality to such proposed reliance was Ken Atwater, president of Florida's Hillsborough Community College system. Atwater explained that one of the key goals of HCC is to "train the workforce for the future. As we grapple with economic challenges," he said, "it is imperative that we leverage our resources and make the most of them."

Atwater went on to say that the "Charting New Courses" theme had particular relevance to higher education today, "as we scramble for funds to continue to support degree attainment." To that end, HCC focuses on three main pillars:

Commitment to lead innovation. "Today's students are very technologically sophisticated," said Atwood, "and we need to be bold and take risks to take advantage of technology's tools."

Building collaborative partnerships. "We're working with nearby institutions, including the University of South Florida," said Atwater, "to align our mutual resources around common needs, such as education and workforce development."

Improving the overall student experience. "There are still too many barriers to degree completion," Atwater noted. "We've renewed our commitment to improve access."

Improvement was the goal of NACUBO's fifth "Serving the Community" project, which took place at the A.J. Ferrell Middle Magnet School in Tampa. Eighty-five volunteers helped prepare the facility to become the first public girls' academy in the Hillsborough County School District by completing projects such as painting, landscaping, and assembling new furniture.

Incorporating the Latin flair of Tampa, the opening event at the Tampa Bay History Center brought South Florida alive for attendees, who were free to visit exhibits highlighting everything from the first native inhabitants to sports legends and railroad tycoons.

New to this year's meeting: a revamped New Business Officer (NBO) program, a networking luncheon for international attendees, and the addition of a leadership component (a presentation by consultant and futurist Clayton Christensen) to the Primary Representatives' Breakfast.

Following is a detailed log of the experiences, lessons, advice—and a bit of inspiration—revealed to business officers as they explored new educational territory.