As part of my professional development, I try to alternate between the ACRL and FYE conferences. Both are always amazing, and this year I attended the First-Year Experience conference in Washington D. C. (held at the historic Wardman Park Marriott.) In addition to attending a great conference, I also had the opportunity to join Roz at Wake Washington on Saturday morning to discuss mis/disinformation on the internet with a wonderful group of twenty WFU alumni. We had many familiar faces in the audience! Many thanks to Jennifer Richwine, Executive Director of the Wake Washington Center, for setting up this opportunity!
The FYE conference always has a keynote speaker who really challenges the audience, and this year was no different, with Russell Lowery-Hart, president of Amarillo College, whose leadership is focused on improving student success through systemic and cultural change, directly addressing the effects of poverty with programs like a food bank, day-care and emergency funds that help keeps students in school so they can succeed. The Atlantic did a great story about Russell Lowery-Hart and Amarillo College back in 2018, and the programs are still going strong today. In his keynote, Russell Lowry-Hart said the money they spend on this work provides a 16:1 rate of return based on the increased graduation rates they are seeing at Amarillo College.
I attended some excellent presentations, including one by librarians from Elon University on “Librarians as Critical Partners in First-Year Student Academic Success.” Another great session entitled “Five Coaching Habits Every FYE Instructor Should Adopt” was led by Sister Anna Wray from the Catholic University of America. Her intensive approach really challenged the instructors in the room to rethink how we teach by paying more attention to skills gaps.
As always, the book vendors like Penguin Random House and HarperCollins bring incredible authors to this event! Hearing from authors Ibram X. Kendi, and Kwame Onwuachi in such small settings was incredible! (and I brought back copies of their books for our “Blind Date with a Book” events!”
It was an amazing conference and a busy weekend with a trip to Wake Washington, but seeing Wake Washington was worth the trip! WFU has a wonderful center in DC and that does an incredible job serving both our students and alumni!