Institutional Advancement: Part 2 | The Center for Conferences and Institutes

October 14, 2013

In my last blog post, I talked about the overarching framework of Institutional Advancement (IA) and why it’s important to us here at PC.  Today, I’d like to talk a bit about our new Center for Conferences and Institutes (CCI) initiative, and how it fits in that bigger IA framework.

The idea of creating a Center for Conferences and Institutes at PC is not a new idea, and I can’t take any credit for it.  There was discussion about creating a college department to oversee extracurricular and co-curricular programs and services on campus several years ago, but the recent budget challenges we’ve faced put the idea on the back burner.  With the economy looking better and a more positive budget this year, we’ve been able to re-energize the discussion.

I envision the Center for Conferences and Institutes as a college unit that will help us on two fronts—First, CCI can help us plan, coordinate, and deliver top-notch college programs, conferences, and institutes that will attract the community to our campus,; provide a rich, creative, and engaging array of learning opportunities,; and help us get a handle on what it actually costs the college to provide programs and services (beyond our credit and noncredit offerings) to our students and the community.  That latter part sounds pretty pragmatic, but it’s important.  We certainly want to provide a rich, diverse mix of learning opportunities for our constituents—that’s one of the things I believe we do especially well at PC.  But we also need to be able to assess their cost (in time, in talent, in dollars) in relation to the benefit the college and our constituents gain from the event, activity, etc.  For example, we’ve helped sponsor a conference on the Elwha River dam removal for the past couple of years.  Does that conference have the potential to be expanded and enhanced as the dams finally come completely down and we continue to see the changes taking place on the river? Could it become a “signature event” with a national (or international) draw for the college?  What about the Raymond Carver festival? There are many other possibilities we might consider; the point is that we need to be able to assess them from a cost/benefit perspective.

Second: CCI can help us explore collaborative opportunities for new programs and services that will enhance our interaction with the communities we serve.  There are great opportunities to partner with other agencies, organizations, community groups, etc. to develop and deliver conferences, programs, and events that will draw people to the communities we serve and help establish not just the college, but our whole service area, as a “Destination.”  For example, Centrum is already delivering programming at Fort Worden that draws participants from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  What might we do at Fort Worden if we partnered with them?  Or in PA partnering with the Chamber, or the Fiero Marine Life Center, or in Forks with ONRC?  The possibilities are, I think, very exciting, and help our communities recognize the “value added” the college brings by being here on the Peninsula.

This year is a planning year for CCI.  As the year progresses, we’ll keep you up to speed on what we’re planning, and we would welcome your ideas on how we can build a truly exemplary Center for Conferences and Institutes as part of our overall Institutional Advancement initiative.