August 9, 2016
No doubt about it — the 2016 SUNYCUAD Educational Conference was a bases-loaded home run!
For three days, from June 8-10, we enjoyed tremendous networking opportunities and considerable sage advice from top-notch SUNY advancement professionals. And, of course, conference-goers won’t soon forget that side-splitting final presentation by the fabulous Beekman Boys – “Amazing” reality TV stars, marketers extraordinaire, and all-around nice guys who inspired us with their improbable story, can-do outlook, and indomitable sprit. Did I say homerun? I meant grand slam!
This year’s conference marked SUNYCUAD’s first return in more than a decade to Cooperstown’s extraordinary Otesaga Hotel. Over 210 attendees from 40 campuses, and more than a dozen vendors, gathered at the historic and stately resort in the city whose name is synonymous with our beloved national pastime.
Highlights of the conference included an insightful address by SUNY Board of Trustees Chair Carl McCall, a panel discussion among a group of SUNY campus vice presidents, and a standing-room-only presentation by writer, educator, artist, brand consultant, and radio talk show host Debbie Millman, a UAlbany alumna who took us on a fascinating journey through the history of branding — from ancient civilization to modern day. As a matter of fact, Millman was such a hit that a great number of attendees have asked us to have her back again — soon and often!
More than two dozen breakout sessions gave SUNY advancement specialists numerous opportunities to learn what’s new and trending, including how to give your Twitter account an edgy voice and ways to turn your school’s mascot into a marketing machine. What — you don’t have a mascot!
Steve Frederick, longtime SUNYCUAD volunteer and board member, whose day job it is to pitch Clinton Community College to prospective donors, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his longtime service to SUNY and SUNYCUAD. Friends and colleagues traveled many miles to congratulate and applaud Steve on this great achievement. Also acknowledged for their outstanding work were professionals from throughout the SUNY system who were presented with SUNYCUAD Awards for Excellence during a special luncheon in their honor. A complete list of this year’s Awards for Excellence winners can be found online at http://sunycuad.org/awards/list-of-awards-for-excellence-winners.
When it was time to network and relax, there were plenty of opportunities. One of the most memorable was the Thursday night barbecue sponsored by our longtime generous sponsor Liberty Mutual. On the hotel’s lush and sprawling grounds adjacent to Lake Otsego, we played lawn games, built a fire, sampled Cooperstown brews, and feasted on ribs, burgers, wings, hot dogs, and just about every kind of salad you can imagine.
Friday’s “SUNYCUAD All-Stars” program was a crowd-pleasing doubleheader. Ken Meifert, an executive with the Baseball Hall of Fame – which, by the way was just down the street from our hotel – led off with a close-up look at how the HOF operates, collects memorabilia, and generally fuels the economy in Cooperstown and beyond.
Batting cleanup — because they’re just that good – were the Beekman Boys. You may not have heard of them before SUNYCUAD, but if you saw them at the conference you’ll never forget them.
In a presentation filled with much humor and genuine charm, the ‘Boys’ told the story of how they left good New York City jobs for a life of farming in Upstate New York. They had the audience in stitches as they explained how their “all-in” million-dollar mortgage investment in a rundown farm helped wake up the sleepy Schoharie County village of Sharon Springs.
They shared their adventures as novice goat farmers turned wildly successful entrepreneurs, marketers, and merchandisers for one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands in the county. The crowd roared as the Beekman Boys recounted the tale of how they inadvertently got booked on CBS’S The Amazing Race and ultimately overcame the odds to become “Race” champions. They were delightful! If I were to use a baseball analogy, I’d say, “They batted a thousand.”
Much thanks goes to this year’s SUNYCUAD conference team: Rhea Chase, UAlbany; Darryl Geddes, Upstate Medical University and a member of the SUNYCUAD Board of Directors; Brian Rudolph, UAlbany; and Benjamin Wendrow, SUNY Oneonta. Vendor chairs were Nancy Prott, Upstate Medical University; and Jennifer Wilson, SUNY Cortland. They were an absolutely all-star team!
We’ll get together and do it all again next year at SUNYCUAD’s 2017 conference, June 7 through 9, at the DoubleTree Hilton in Tarrytown, N.Y. Our Hudson Valley location less than 30 miles from Manhattan offers us exciting programming opportunities and access to great speakers and special guests.
Stay tuned — there’s much more to come soon!
Looking forward to seeing you in Tarrytown,
2016 SUNYCUAD Educational Conference Co-chair
p.s. Don’t forget to check out a photo gallery from the conference.