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Impactful Conferences Shine Light on St. Norbert

Two upcoming conferences hosted on campus this summer carry considerable significance in higher-education circles and put St. Norbert College in the spotlight, too.

The Association for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASACCU) conference meets at St. Norbert for the first time, while the college’s own Sport & Society conference meets for its fourth convening, and the first to be dubbed international. 

ASACCU: “The Way I See It”
The Rev. Jay Fostner, O.Praem., ’84, vice president for mission and students affairs at St. Norbert College and a member of the ASACCU board, says the college filed a proposal to host the organization’s 2016 event and was excited when chosen by the board.

“They’re looking for a Catholic college that exemplifies the best in Catholic education and it’s great we were chosen,” he says. “As President Kunkel keeps saying, we need to get the bushel basket off of St. Norbert and get out the word about the great things we’re doing here. People may have heard of our name, but don’t know much about us. This will hopefully change that.”

During the July 19-22 conference (themed around “The Way I See It: Catholic Higher Education Through the Eyes of Our Students”), 100 to 150 people from 40 different Catholic schools will be on campus utilizing a variety of facilities from the abbey for Mass to Michels Commons, from the library to the residence halls, where attendees will be staying.

Sharing what St. Norbert has to offer with other Catholic colleges will lead to greater awareness, Fostner says.

“If we do a great job, it will get more people to think of us favorably and it may even help with some of our rankings where they ask other colleges to rank each other,” he says.

Planning for the ASACCU conference has been an exhaustive process, Fostner says. “There are so many people involved. There are 11 different committees and it’s like planning a wedding with 150 guests – there are so many details to think about and take care of,” he says.

Sport & Society: “The Business of College Sports”
The May 23-25 Sport & Society event, too, demands extensive preparation.

“We easily started planning in March 2015 for our 2016 event,” says Keith Sherony (Economics), conference director. “It’s a good 15 months of planning that goes into something like this, but it’s worth it.”

That’s because Sherony says events like this one provide St. Norbert College with an opportunity to share with a broader audience everything the college has to offer.

“You build up that name recognition and profile among researchers with a conference, such as this, plus you can’t neglect the community relations side of it,” he says. 

This year, for example, University of Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez is the keynote speaker and his address will be open to the public. 

“An event like this reminds people that we’re here,” says Sherony, adding that it also showcases the college’s different venues and facilities, which could then, in turn, lead other organizations and businesses to consider it for their own events. “Through it all, we’ll be offering our Norbertine radical hospitality and make sure everyone feels welcome.”

St. Norbert partners with the Green Bay Packers on the conference, with some of the events being held at Lambeau Field. This year's theme is “The Business of College Sports.” “It’s definitely a unique opportunity for academics and sports professionals to share their expertise and experiences,” Sherony says.

March 1, 2016