Report from the 2015 CASE Conference for Student Advancement

Brian Gawor

Vice President of Research

August 13, 2015

PrintI had the privilege of attending as faculty at the 2015 CASE Conference for Student Advancement last week in Washington, D.C. For more than40 years, this summer conference has highlighted the best of what is happening oncampus by students in our field.

There was so much incredible enthusiasm on display by all the student, advisor and professional attendees. I had great conversations about the future of philanthropy and advancement, and saw so many excitingthings that are happening on campuses across the continent and abroad.

A few great things I saw:

Keynote from Jim Langley

Jim Langley gave a great keynote about the skills needed to attract the people who will make a difference in higher education philanthropy. It’s about long-term relationships, listening and taking action to build those relationships. Jim once again delivered these important points with clarity.


Great Sessions from Student Organizations

There were great sessions from student philanthropy and advancement organizations making a real difference on campuses. I heard many interestingand innovative ideas on how to further the giving and engagement message.


Rockstar Panel of Student Leaders

The conference this year also featured several concurrent symposiums. A rockstar panel of student leaders as part of the Engaging Students in Philanthropy Symposium was moderated by Jane Eadie. The panel included Christopher Bernal from University of California, Merced, Aaron Galliher from Appalachian State, Alexa Hanelin from the University of Chicago and Courtney Wolfe from Oklahoma State University. Expect to hear all these names in the future, because what these people are doing while still in college on their campuses simply blew me away.


Great Student Phonathon Symposium

Chris McBride at Cal Poly put together a great Student Phonathon Symposium. There were great presenters including Peter Moes from the University of Utah who talked about making the transition from caller to manager, and Frank Tramble from Georgetown University who talked about rebranding the phonathon at Michigan State. Chris talked about recruiting, selecting and retaining great callers, and put together a panel of her callers to talk about motivation and creating a team.mcbridemoes2My takeaway: Caller feedback is key to creating a successful calling team.

What Makes a Great Phonathon Caller?

I asked some of the participants in my sessions what adjectives they thought made a great phonathon caller and here’s what they said:


Great Panel on Advancement Careers

Rob Henry from CASE moderated a great panel on careers in advancement with Carl Fowlkes, Connie Hansen, Sara Lawer, Peter Smits and Frank Tramble. Included in the discussion were suggestions on ways we can help both mentor and sponsor young people to move forward in advancement careers. It is clear from the conference that we have a tremendous opportunity to do this in the coming years because there is very real interest in advancement work with the rising generation.

Conference Tweets

That tweet summarizes a theme of the conference. It was eye opening and emotional, to be surrounded by so many young people who are embracing the advancement world so enthusiastically.

This Conference Was Inspiring

I don’t really expect for fundraising or advancement to be considered a “cool” profession—I certainly didn’t think about this career when I was in college. I think that’s changing, and a whole generation is seeing how philanthropy and the vocation of building lifelong relationships with future supporters can lead to a world of positive change.montage

Seriously–There were points during the conference when I didn’t know if I should break into tears of joy or just start collecting résumés.

I’ll be back next year.

Find out about how you can grow your student advancement program and culture of philanthropy on campus at the CASE ASAP network home page.

About the Author

Brian Gawor’s focus is research and strategy to help propel both alumni engagement and fundraising results of RNL clients. Brian has 20 years of higher education experience in student affairs, enrollment management, alumni engagement and...

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