Nearly 1400 higher education professionals joined us in Orlando for the 2018 Ruffalo Noel Levitz National Conference to learn from each other about ways to improve the student and institutional experience. This year’s conference included tracks on the entire student lifecycle, from marketing and recruitment, to student success and graduation, to alumni engagement and fundraising. Our overview video that kicked off the conference spoke of some of those challenges:
Followed by a presentation from the president and CEO of RNL, Sumit Nijhawan.
In the more than 150 current sessions that followed, campus professionals and higher education experts dove into more detail about how to address these challenges. At a higher level, though, our four keynote speakers really set the tone for the conference by providing insights and inspiration for the attendees. Here are some highlights from their presentations.
Byron Pitts, award-winning journalist
Our opening keynote speaker Byron Pitts is the co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline and the author of the memoir Step Out on Nothing. He shared his amazing story of going from a “functionally illiterate” elementary school student to an award-winning television reporter who has traveled the world. In particular, he credits an English professor at Ohio Wesleyan University with not only changing his life, but with saving his life when she helped him during his difficult freshman year.
A few highlights from his opening keynote session:
- Indifference can be a deadly weapon.
- Consider where your heart is when you are speaking the truth because it makes a difference in how that truth is heard.
- It is both a blessing and a burden to be the first in your family to go to college.
- The children of privilege have a responsibility to the world to serve the children who aren’t born with the same privileges.
- There are power in our words to change people’s lives.
- When someone comes to you and asks, “What do you do, where do you go, when the world hurts too much?” you can say, “Come to me.”
Byron encouraged us to be willing to step out for someone we don’t know because it can make the difference not only for them staying in school, but a difference in the rest of their lives. [Read more…]