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Creating the National Conference Program

posted on January 22, 2015

Several weeks ago CACEE invited the members of our community to submit proposals to be presenters at the CACEE 2015 National Conference. The deadline for submission has now passed, and we were once again fortunate in the volume of response to our invitation. We have space for 35 sessions at the CACEE National Conference, and we have received approximately 50 proposals. This means we will have a wealth of options to choose from, and CACEE will offer once again a strong program for conference delegates.

With more submissions than space, there is work to do, and that work is done by the members of the Program Committee.  This committee is formed annually and is comprised of CACEE members who volunteer their time to review the submissions and make hard decisions about what you will see at the conference. Each year, a new committee is formed to do this work, and they are all governed by a common set of practices and guidelines established through Board policy decisions, best practice learning and precedent.

We at CACEE are often asked about how the Program is developed, and given that the Committee for 2015 is doing its work now, it is timely to share with you a brief glimpse at the process. You may know that each CACEE Conference has two Co-Chairs – an Educator and an Employer / Affiliate who are members of the Association. The Co-Chairs appoint a Program Committee Co-Chair, who then invite other CACEE members to join in the work. Once formed, the Committee issues the Call for Proposals, including important information (conference theme, submission process, and deadline) to guide the submissions.

The next step is where all of you, the members of the CACEE community, get involved – the submission period. You, the members of our community, submit your proposals outlining the sessions you want to share with your friends and colleagues. This is the material from which the Committee creates the conference program – from you, the CACEE members, colleagues and friends who make up the CACEE community.

Once the proposals are received the Program Committee reviews them, first individually, then together via conference call. The submissions are scored, and ranked, and the top ranked ones are used to draft the program. The initial scoring is based on five criteria:

1. Will the topic/material be suitable for the intended target audience?

2. Will the presentation align with the conference theme and/or does it address topics identified as ‘areas of interest’/’hot topics’ by CACEE members?

3. Will the presentation provide opportunities for interaction between attendees and presenter?

4. Will the presentation encourage discussion outside of the allotted time slot?

5. Overall, will the presentation provide key takeaways for the audience?

In the event of tied scores, there are other factors the Program Committee may consider as well. We keep track of session presenters from previous conferences and the evaluations they received. Reviewing this information helps the committee identify topics or speakers that were already incorporated into previous CACEE conferences, as well as those satisfying an area of interest that have not yet been presented. Once the Committee has considered all of these factors, they finalize the program, and we open registration.

The most important part of this message is this – the Program is developed by volunteers, drawn from the submissions of other volunteers. CACEE is most fortunate that we can call upon people who are so generous with their time and their knowledge. We all benefit from their contributions. By the way, we will soon need to begin preliminary planning for CACEE 2016 National Conference. Any CACEE members interested in knowing more about the work of the Program Committee, or thinking about volunteering to assist in this rewarding work, should contact CACEE Executive Director Paul Smith. He will answer your questions, or put you in touch with someone who can.