University Conference Schedule:
Monday, August 24: General Session (9 a.m., Marriott Center)
Tuesday, August 25: Breakfast (8-9:30 a.m., Brigham's Square, WSC)
University Conference Committee (although this doesn't scratch the surface of all those who have been involved in the planning):
- University Relations: Jim Kasen, Julie Hatchett, Clark Pew, Lois Williams, and Christine Holliman
- Publications and Graphics: Jeff McClellan, Bruce Patrick
- University Communications: Emily Hellewell
- Music: Laura Holt
- Dining Services: Kirk Rich
- Physical Facilities: Taft Kaze and Will Terris
- Marriott Center: Scott Kavanaugh
- AV: Ray Lines
- Campus Scheduling: Janae Pickard
There will be muffins. BYU Dining Services is making 2,500 white chocolate chip blueberry muffins that will be at your seat in the Marriott Center Monday morning when you arrive for the University Conference General Session.
If that's not a good enough reason to come to the General Session, then come for the Ballroom Dance Company performance or vocal duet by Darrell and Jennifer Babidge. Come for the chance to recognize your colleagues for their great work, or catch the debut of a new short film about BYU.
Also, the Marriott Center has new cushy seats with more legroom.
Of course the meeting is more than muffins and better legroom (but that sure does help). President Worthen will address faculty and staff, highlighting achievements and offering a look ahead.
Setting the stage for the meeting is a line from the BYU Mission Statement to "assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life." Director of University Relations Jim Kasen, who leads the planning efforts for the Conference, likes the challenge and inspiration of that theme.
"We hope this conference will help all of us further realize how important we are to BYU and its mission," he said. "We are all needed and we all have an important work to do."
Building on that sense of individual contribution to the community is an especially important topic for University Conference, said Kasen.
"University Conference – from the General Session to the Breakfast and the college and department meetings – is a unique opportunity to connect with people we don't normally get to see on campus," he said. "It's easy to get focused on our jobs and not get out much. University Conference is one way to reconnect and build new relationships."
One Year of Planning: Food to Music and Everything in Between
It's clear that everyone on the University Conference planning team is working to make it a valuable experience for faculty and staff.
Planning takes an entire year and involves hundreds of campus employees. They begin the Monday after the conference ends scheduling venues for the next year. In January, a theme is selected and the schedule starts to take shape. By March, the team is ready to talk about promotions. From April to August work starts in earnest to plan and finalize every detail: from the content of the General Session to the logistics of how 4,000 people will be fed at the Breakfast.
"We think about all details from the guest's perspective," said University Relations' Julie Hatchett, who oversees the Breakfast and some details of the General Session. "What does the ticket design look like? How can we make the lines run smoothly and efficiently? Are the tables set up? Will there be enough shade? How can we entertain the guests? We hope to create a welcoming environment so that everyone has an enjoyable experience."
Hatchett works closely with General Manager of Hospitality and Dining Services Kirk Rich on the Breakfast menu and this year?s muffin snack for the General Session. Moving the General Session to Monday has opened up new opportunities for the Breakfast, said Rich.
"We decided that the breakfast needed to have its own identity; it is more than just a meal," Rich said. "The Dining Services team batted around some ideas and our director, Dean Wright, thought focusing on a region of the world would be a good place to start."
This year's focus – a Taste of the Pacific – will be evident in many aspects of the Breakfast, from the menu to a mini Living Legends' performance to décor.
Rich sees another benefit in separating the General Session and the Breakfast.
"In the past my staff and I would finish serving breakfast for 3,700 people then work four more hours putting things away and we would miss the General Session," Rich said. "Now my employees can be a part of the whole experience."
Living Legends won't be the only BYU artists you'll see at University Conference this year: the BYU Ballroom Dance team and BYU Arts' Darrell and Jennifer Babidge will sing a duet during the General Session. Laura Holt, who works in the School of Music and helped to set up the performances, appreciates that the music and entertainment will flow seamlessly with the rest of the program.
"The music and dance will help convey the message of the meeting through the artists' interpretations," Holt said.
It's All About You
This year's University Conference events will wrap up just in time to start thinking about next year. Even though the next couple of days will be busy, Kasen and the planning team are actually looking forward to starting all over again.
"We sincerely believe that planning carefully far out and capturing as many details as possible, allows us to meet greater needs with the event," Kasen said. "We try very, very hard to show the employees of BYU that this event is for them."
And if that's not a good enough reason to come, there's always the muffins.
Writer: Lisa Crofts