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GLACUHO News: General

Winter Meeting Venue Announcement

Tuesday, September 10, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Eric Musselman
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I am writing to share an exciting announcement about the venue for the annual GLACUHO Winter Meeting in February. This upcoming February 9-10, 2020, the winter meeting will move from our longtime host site at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Indiana, to the campus of Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. The decision to seek a new venue has been many years in the making and has incorporated a great deal of feedback from our membership, committee members, and our Leadership Team. I am excited for the new venue and would like to share the background information and how we came to this decision.

GLACUHO has a long history of hosting our winter meeting at Camp Tecumseh. This meeting, a retreat for all committee members and the leadership team, is unique to GLACUHO amongst our fellow regional housing associations, and has been a valuable opportunity to network, collaborate, and plan the great initiatives that are sponsored by our association. We are only one of two regions that offers an in-person committee meeting, and historically, the only region that does so at no cost to the attendees. Camp Tecumseh has served us well over the years, providing meeting space, lodging, and meals at a reasonable price that has allowed GLACUHO to fully fund these expenses for all attendees.

In recent years, however, members have shared concerns about the venue which have resonated with the Leadership Team. As you probably know, Camp Tecumseh is located outside of a small rural community in central Indiana that can be challenging to travel to during winter driving conditions. Additionally, the rural location off major interstates and highways has made some of our members of color and/or from historically underrepresented groups feel uncomfortable during travel. The venue itself is a religiously-affiliated organization with many religious symbols and references, and some of the artwork depicting Native American and indiginous peoples is insensitive and/or offensive. Anyone that has stayed on-site also knows that the narrow bunk bed sleeping accommodations are uncomfortable or even impossible for some of our members, resulting in some members choosing to stay in hotels off-site 20+ miles away or not attend at all. Recognizing the serious concerns expressed by our members, this is not the welcoming, inclusive experience we want for all of our attendees.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the great staff at Camp Tecumseh who have worked with us for over 40 years. It is clear that their staff are as passionate about their work as we are about ours. Our decision to shift to a new venue was not in any way related to the staff or service they provided to us in the past, but instead related to the issues I explained above.

At the start of my term as president, I appointed a working group to explore alternative formats, venues, and options for hosting the winter meeting. This group, under Zac Birch’s leadership, ran focus groups at this year’s winter meeting, researched alternative venues including hotels, and presented their findings to the Board of Directors at our summer board meeting. Their findings echoed what we already knew: members value the in-person experience, but felt that Camp Tecumseh was no longer the best venue to meet our needs. We began looking at hosting the winter meeting at hotels centrally located in the region, and recognized that GLACUHO would no longer be able to fully fund the winter meeting without asking for committee members to share part of the expenses if we move to a hotel.

Upon reviewing these work group recommendations at the summer meeting, we asked the State Delegates to conduct outreach to their state members to gather additional feedback on the value of the winter meeting and whether or not institutions would be supportive of a committee member participation fee. What we learned overwhelmingly is that our members very much value the in-person networking and collaboration opportunity and do not want to see it moved to an online-only process. Additionally, most institutions were supportive of a small participation fee, up to $30, for each committee member, in order to preserve this in-person experience. During this same time, we were approached by several member institutions who indicated that they had the capacity to host the winter meeting on their campuses using underfilled residence halls, several recognizing that they may not be centrally located enough to be a viable option. Indiana State University was one of the institutions that contacted us, and upon working with them we realized they would be able to meet all of our needs and still be somewhat centrally located within the region.

We are excited to announce that the 2020 Winter Meeting will take place at Indiana State University. Housing accommodations will be provided in conference housing spaces in their residence halls in double-occupancy rooms with attached private bathrooms. Meetings will be held in the Hulman Memorial Student Union, with ample meeting spaces for all 10 of our committees as well as our leadership team and PDI (Professional Development Institute). Meals will be provided on campus in dining halls. In addition to meeting our facilities and lodging needs, we are also excited that we will have convenient access to the food court within the student union, and I know several members that will be thrilled about having an on-site Starbucks. I want to thank Doug Howell at Indiana State, a longtime GLACUHO member, past committee chair and past conference host, for working with us to schedule and coordinate these activities.

In terms of our winter meeting budget, I’m also pleased to share that we are able to fully fund the winter meeting (lodging, meeting space, parking, and meals) for all attendees for the 2020 Winter Meeting. Recognizing that Indiana State University is able to host our group in February due to extra capacity in their halls, this may not be the case in future years and we will need to continue to explore other options in the future.  While it is our goal to keep the winter meeting free to our committee members and leadership team, it may be necessary in future years to charge a small participation fee (up to $30) to offset expenses related to the meeting. Thus, we encourage senior housing officers to consider budgeting for this in future fiscal years. We will announce the venue (and fee, if applicable) for the 2021 Winter Meeting around this time next year.

I want to thank Zac and the Winter Meeting Work Group for their work leading up to the summer meeting, and to the State Delegates for gathering feedback over the summer. The Board of Directors did not take this decision lightly and I am proud of the work done by the board through challenging, but necessary conversations as they came to this decision. While we close the chapter on one part of our association’s history, we open a new chapter framed by inclusion and equity for all our members.

Committee member applications for the 2019-2020 year will open soon; information will be shared by email and posted on the GLACUHO website once the process begins. Applications will be due shortly after the close of the Annual Conference.

With GLACUHO pride,

Eric Musselman

GLACUHO President

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Facilities Project Manager | DePaul University

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