This week I attended the 12th annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy (CHEP) put on by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at VT. I am very appreciative to have had the opportunity to attend the conference- as my registration was arranged and paid by the graduate teaching scholars program that I am involved in. This conference gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with faculty members of other institutions that shared a common interest- higher education teaching. It was also notable to me that most of the attendees were faculty with primarily teaching roles and many from non-research institutions. I have only ever attended land grant research institutions, so this was a valuable opportunity for me. Additionally, this was the conference I have attended that was outside my discipline.
I am privileged to get the opportunity to attend this conference because 1) I was made aware of this conference and 2) my $50 registration fee was covered. I noticed that the only other students I met (who weren’t presenting at the conference) were those in my program. I worry that this conference is missing out on having students attend and giving them opportunities to attend. I think developing a student-oriented activity or session would enhance the conference. They could invite graduate students involved in higher education programs at VT (such as the GTS program I’m involved in, those enrolled in the future professoriate certificate programs, the Engineering Ed department, and programs in the school of education) and other Virginia universities. To enable more students to attend I would ask that the conference lowers the registration price for students- by targeting more students and creating programing for them specifically I think you would be able to offset the cost of lowering registration. If the conference is still concerned, they could make one of the student activities at a separate lunch time activity and offer a simpler lunch (like pizza or sandwiches)- I’m guessing here that the nice buffet lunch was one of the largest expense to justify the registration cost. I would love to see the conference add a networking & careers program for students because there is so much that a graduate student misses in learning about careers in higher education while siloed at their own institution. Also providing graduate students a place to interact with peers that share a common interest in higher education is an invaluable experience.
Altogether I appreciate the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at VT for putting on the annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy and am hoping to continue attending in the future- even though I have ideas for expansion.