This was one of the most interesting conferences I have ever been asked to attend as a faculty member. It was so refreshing to attend a conference with no expectations of presenting my data or professional interests, but rather to speak extemporaneously about fascinating topics of broad interest. I particularly appreciated the opportunity for meeting so many interesting people with a wide scope of interests and backgrounds.
Chief of Performance Improvement
Lexington VA Medical Center
Thank you & all the people at MSU who put the event together. I had a wonderful, extremely stimulating time --- far more than I had anticipated. I don't know what you could have done better except make it go one for another week so I could really get to talk with everyone in some depth. I came home thrilled with the quality of people I had met and the connections made. On the panels, I had conversations with fascinating people from professional backgrounds that I am not often exposed to --- and I was very impressed with them. I learned a lot.
Artist, educator and writer
Thank you again for the joint community and university event with a broad array of speakers and information. It is one of the highlights of my travels this year. This should be written up as a “best practice” for other universities. Maybe it already has been publicized that way. It is an excellent university / community program. It would have been somewhat of a “downer” if each audience was nor abundant or engaged. This was not the case this year, so whatever you did to get the crowds, that helped to make the success.
Senior Livestock TEchnical Advisor
TEchnical Assistance Group
Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance
Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian
Assistance at USAID
This was a terrific conference and I so appreciate being invited. I had a blast!
Professor and Director, Geriatrics Education and Research
University of England
I have been involved in many academic conferences in my career, both as a presenter and conference host. I know how difficult it is to create a conference that is unique and offers value to participants, especially since there are so many conferences to choose from, domestically and internationally. I also know the challenges in coordinating a large conference and the numerous details that must be attended to. On both counts, Missouri State University delivered in a stellar fashion. As a presenter, I was initially challenged in that the requests for panel involvement required me to present thoughtful perspective in some areas that were not my field of expertise. I thoroughly enjoyed this. It broadened my understanding of the topic and allowed me to present content in “non-traditional” ways. This was a pleasant alternative to Power Point style presentation. Another enjoyable aspect of this style of presenting was getting to know my panel members who presented their experiences and thoughts in a very professional manner. The other observation I offer was the organization and coordination of the conference. The staff at MSU and everyone involved were excellent. Several of my fellow presenters and participants commented on the food offered, schedule of the topic areas and friendliness of the organizers. As a presenter, all details leading up to the conference and following were handled professionally and it was a true pleasure being involved.
Director, Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship
University of North Texas
This is a different kind of conference indeed. I’m used to speaking in my area of comfortable expertise and to audiences who signed up to hear what I have to say. So preparing for the MSU Public Affairs Conference made me question why I’d said “yes.” But only until I got there and started to participate. It’s a great conference. I shared; I learned; I broadened my horizons and my network. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. And it was just plain fun to be back on a vibrant university campus, among students, faculty, and staff.
Public Strategies Group
I have to admit that when I first saw my panel assignments for the Missouri State Public Affairs Conference, I tried to get out of 2 out of 3 of them. I was sure that there was a mistake; there was no way that I would have anything of value to say about “The New Middle Class.” My area of expertise is the developing world and the U.S. legislation that determines our policies toward those countries. However in the end, it was fortunate that my request was denied. And maybe, just maybe, there was some method to what I perceived as madness. All of the panels in which I participated were extremely diverse and featured choreographers, economists and everyone in between. Yet somehow, the model worked. I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard from both the panelists and the audience, and the relaxed format of the event allowed more time for discussion and less time for one-sided lectures. Of course the most surprising thing of all was that people in the room seemed to actually be listening to what I had to say about the “New Middle Class” and how the economic downturn has affected the budgets and operating capacities of non profit organizations like the one I work for, CARE. Attending the Missouri State Public Affairs Conference was a wonderful experience. The people involved could not have been nicer—from the organizers to the speakers, and the event was extremely well run, even relaxing! And I have to say, that there was something absolutely wonderful about arriving at the conference with a few notes and talking points but without that time consuming and occasionally boring security blanket more commonly known as PowerPoint.
Challenging. Invigorating. Entertaining. Enlightening. Those are words that are too seldom used when discussing conferences. Yet Missouri State University’s Public Affairs Conference was just that… and so much more. Granted, when initially we were invited to the 2009 Conference on Sustainability we wondered how we would most effectively be able to contribute. It was with great relief first, then delight second, then appreciation third, that we found that the voices invited to present at the conference not only enhanced our own participation in the conference theme but greatly broadened our understanding of it. How could so many extremely diversified scientists, administrators, advocates, writers, researchers and filmmakers come together to create such an organic approach to such a vast subject? It is thanks to MSU’s innovative method of engaging the participants both on the panels and in the audience. We rarely, if ever, have felt so enthusiastic about a conference. Thank you so much for inviting us. We are honored to have been a part of Missouri State University’s Public Affairs Conference.
Michelle Benoit and Glen Pitre
New Orleans, Louisiana
Upon receiving a description of the panels on which I was to participate, I was
stunned. Of the three panels I was sitting on, only one seemed to even remotely
relate to the focus of my research and teaching. Uneasy, but willing, I prepared
my comments for all three sessions and headed to the conference. Upon arriving,
I was comforted, but also concerned, to learn that my trepidation was shared by
my other conference participants as well.
I thought, "If everyone felt this way, what sort of panel discussion could we possibly have?" My fears were laid to rest, however, as soon as my first panel began. I discovered that the beauty of this conference is, in fact, the very thing that unnerved me the most. Unlike most other academic conferences, the Public Affairs Conference offers an opportunity for panelists to actually listen to and interact with each other and the audience. I found it refreshing that that both academics and practitioners were asked to serve on panels together. The varied perspectives that panelists shared through their brief remarks allowed a fuller discussion of topics than usually comes from a roomful of academics practicing in the same disciplinary subfield. I was often challenged by my fellow presenters to clarify my thinking or strengthen my arguments. Just as often, I was moved by their remarks, learning a fresh way to look at problems and potential solutions. I hope that prospective panelists will not be scared away by the unfamiliar format. The rewards of participation are worth the uneasiness of the process.
Stacy Ulbig, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Sam Houston State University
I am used to academic conferences with 20 minute-long presentations supported by power point. I suffered through most of them because keeping attention focused on someone reading an article for 20 minutes is impossible. The presentations in MSU Public Affairs conference were a very welcome change. Brief presentations delivered from the head or from notes allow for the avoidance of jargon and clarity of a focus; the main points everyone was making were easy to grasp. It is amazing how much content one can deliver in ten minutes, if one is well prepared. I found the conference amazingly rich with diverse content and, most importantly, accessible and enjoyable. Thank you for inviting me.
Director, Art for Empowerment Program
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
You thanked me several times for my willingness to come and contribute to your Public Affairs Conference. I feel that I should have been thanking you as the opportunity that you presented to me, the chance to talk and think and learn from so many intelligent and involved people, has been one of the highlights of my career. The positive energy, willingness to engage and interact, and the level of "hands on" experience that was present, was truly educational, inspirational, and gratifying. I returned home ready to recommit to my work knowing that similar work was being done across the globe, from the perspective of so many different fields of intellect and endeavor. You made the world smaller, more connected, and more relevant for me. The diversity was amazing but the similarity was eye-opening. You generated an excitement in me that was similar to being 10 years old and standing in front of Willie Mays and asking for his autograph. Who knew that world affairs and issues could generate such excitement. I can't thank you enough for live you have breathed into me and my career.
Paul Von Essen
School Social Worker
Cherry Creek School District
I have now attended the conference twice, and I can say that it is unlike other experiences I have had with many other conferences. First, its agenda is ambitiously broad, encompassing the multiple and complex challenges that our common world faces early in the 21st Century. The conference asks the right questions. Second, it is an enterprise that involves not only the MSU community, especially the young and passionate minds and the faculty, but also the speakers and other participants, enhancing both the richness and reach of the conference. The underlying theme of the conference is that we are a diverse world with multiple challenges. Facing these challenges together, boldly, and sustainably is a tremendous opportunity for us and future generations. Third, the conference is not only about seeking to KNOW the world better and deeper. It is principally, also about ACTING to CHANGE our world, one step at a time, beginning with each one of us. MSU Public Affairs Conference is a noble and timely endeavor that needs to be supported, scaled up, and sustained.
Vice President, Global Affairs & Global Projects Specialist
Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation