August 6, 2020
Sarah Keeling, Ph.D.
NACA Director of Education & Research
As we began to realize the impact of COVID-19 on NACA's live events, we were faced with the tough decision of cancelling our summer institutes. The institutes are immersive learning experiences that we felt couldn't be replicated in an online environment. However, we wanted members to still be able to have educational opportunities to participate in over the summer. The Summer Series was born and a crew of over 40 institute volunteers pivoted with us to make it happen. Thank you volunteers!
We had no idea what to expect in regards to attendance for the Summer Series. With budgetary uncertainties, it was difficult to know if members would be able to attend. We planned anyway, moving forward with a positive outlook and were eventually blown away by the more than 1,200 participants who engaged in the initiative.
Our associate members were also a huge part of this effort. They willingly offered their time, energy, and expertise to participants. The impact associates have on the educational programs of NACA is one of the great and unique things about the organization. I am proud of the outcome of the Summer Series, the flexibility and capability of the volunteers, and the NACA staff, who had to work closely together to pull this off, while being apart physically.
The wrap up of Summer Series coincides with my one year anniversary at NACA. I've compared this year to running (something I don't do in real life, but it's good for an analogy). I was running around a normal running track, staying in the lines, jumping the occasional hurdle – until March. My run turned into a cross country trek through the woods with no trail to follow. We have all been forced to veer off the track, run into the woods, and look for a way out. We have learned valuable lessons through this pandemic and will carry these lessons forward to improve live events and to enhance our educational offerings. I encourage you to plan boldly, take what lessons you can from this time, and keep your optimism.
Sarah Keeling, Ph.D. serves as director of Education & Research for the National Association for Campus Activities and has over 20 years of higher education experience. Her Ph.D. in higher education administration is from the University of South Carolina.