By Jeff Owen

ACUTA, the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, is hosting its 41st Annual Conference in Indianapolis April 29th – May 2nd.  Serving more than 1700 individuals at nearly 750 institutions of higher education ranging from small schools and community colleges to the 50 largest U.S. institutions, ACUTA’s mission is:

“To support higher education information communications technology (ICT) professionals in contributing to the achievement of the strategic mission of their institutions.”

To ensure that their programs align with the wants and needs of the membership, ACUTA recently conducted a survey to learn what is important now and in the very near future.  One thing they learned was that the ACUTA educational programs are right on target for their members.  This information reinforced the direction of the upcoming conference.

An excellent brochure is available on their website detailing the conference, transportation and hotel arrangements.   Some highlights include:

  • A Money-Back Guarantee
  • The Strategic Leadership Forum (targeted for CIOs and other senior executives)
  • Pre-conference Seminars
  • General Sessions with Keynote presentations
  • Multiple Educational Sessions
  • Exhibit Floor
  • Networking Opportunities
  • User Group Meetings

I had to opportunity to speak with Corinne Hoch, ACUTA Executive Director, about the upcoming conference.

TR: Who should attend?

Hoch:  University CIOs and technology leaders who are interested in positioning their units to address the changing needs on their campuses (Ed note: these senior individuals should be particularly interested in the ACUTA Strategic Leadership Forum); network and voice technologists who are migrating to IP voice, unified communications, and collaboration solutions; business managers who are looking for new ideas, resources, and cost-efficient processes to support technology use on their campuses; campus emergency managers who want to learn the latest in notification and E-911 compliance; and, of course, ICT professionals who are responding to the growing expectations of mobility and sourcing in the cloud.

Our program has something for everyone who has anything to do with IT, including budget managers, the chief strategist, programmers, tech support, et al.

TR: What’s new this year?

Hoch:  We’re introducing a mobile app for this conference.  Our members can look for it the week of March 19th.  It’s going to allow us to communicate with the attendees before, during, and after the conference.  The app will include such features as interactive scheduling, interactive speaker and session information, session handouts, real-time meeting alerts and session ratings, social networking capabilities such as photo sharing and linking with friends, etc.  The app will be available for IOS, Android, and Blackberry platforms.

We’ve also improved our lecture capture so that we can provide streaming video at no charge to those who’ve registered for the conference.  We also expect to offer it for a fee to people who are not registered for the conference, because we recognize that budgets are tight and not everyone can attend.

TR:  Please tell me more about the Strategic Leadership Forum.

Hoch:  This is the 16th year we’ve offered it, and it’s kind of a mini conference within the larger conference targeted for CIOs.  This year our keynote speaker, Brad Wheeler, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO, Indiana University, will also kick off the Strategic Leadership Forum.    Following Brad, a panel of university presidents will talk about the changing world in higher education and what they’re doing about it.  We’ve also assembled a panel of traditional and non-traditional students: we call it “our voice of the future.”  They’ll talk about their expectations and sort of respond to what the university presidents presented.  Additionally, we will facilitate roundtable discussions among the participants of this forum.  This is not a classroom environment but a roll-up-your-sleeves working session with peers from other institutions.

TR: What else should our readers know?

Hoch:  We are not esoteric, we’re pragmatic: the people with boots on the ground.  You cannot go away from any of our meetings or events without gaining more than you’ve invested.

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