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Recently, I took a call from a colleague for whom I have served as an informal mentor over many years. She was struggling with whether her campus workload and board meeting schedule would prevent her from attending the EACUBO annual meeting this year. Here’s what I told her:

Why You Should Always Go to the EACUBO Annual Meeting

I told my friend that, unless the dates are in direct conflict with your board meeting dates, you should ALWAYS go to the EACUBO annual meeting. This is the best opportunity all year long to connect with colleagues facing similar challenges in their work, learn from their experiences, and share your own. On our own campuses, we are often the only person in the position we hold. There is only one controller, for instance, or one CFO or chief business officer at your institution. Having scores of peers and colleagues together discussing emerging financial reporting standards, enterprise system challenges, or how to best communicate financial information to our faculty colleagues makes all the difference in the world. When your institution enters into what is for you a unique transaction, chances are others may have seen it, or even have analyzed it in some way. As an example, when my own institution received a hotel as a gift/bargain purchase and we suddenly needed to learn about hotel operations, I quickly reached out to my EACUBO colleagues for guidance. I didn’t have to first research who they were—I knew these people already. Lessons learned and lessons freely shared helped me at numerous points in my career.

If your EACUBO experience is like mine, you will build relationships that will last a lifetime. Colleagues become professional resources, and then gradually become friends through good times and when the challenges persist. For most of my adult life, EACUBO has been a constant. My EACUBO friends toasted my marriage, helped me mourn a parent’s passing, and counseled me as I made decisions about balancing the challenges of professional life and personal needs.

The annual meeting, because of its Exhibit Hall and business partner support, also provides unique opportunities to interact with leaders in an array of industries that support the delivery of higher education. During meeting sessions, breaks, and dinners, you will have opportunities to engage in informal, yet incredibly beneficial, conversations with leaders and representatives from banks, advisors, rating agencies, consultants, technology experts, contractors and architects, and service providers across a variety of campus-related activities. You can build on your existing vendor relationships and create new ones in areas you might be exploring or may soon be contemplating. 

Attending the annual meeting regularly also gives you the opportunity to get to know emerging professionals in our field—when you need to recruit for a key finance position, you’ll have some ideas of potential candidates. On the flip side, others will get to know you and will contact you regarding opportunities for professional growth.

Oh—and then there is the actual professional development element of the meeting! The core of your days will be spent in sessions exploring emerging trends in higher education, the intersection of technology and educational delivery, regulatory changes, financing strategies, and leadership development skills—all the things you need to know to return to your campus re-energized and up to date.

Why You Should Absolutely Go to This Year’s 100th Anniversary Annual Meeting

I went on to underscore to my friend all the reasons why this year’s annual meeting is definitely a “can’t-miss” event. I’ve had the privilege of serving on the planning committee established to assist in making this meeting a memorable one, so I’ve seen firsthand the efforts underway. 

The meeting provides an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues you may not have seen for a while—past presidents, past board members, and others who may have retired in recent years will make a special effort to return for this celebration. I know I’m hoping to see folks like Mary Lai, Yoke San Reynolds, Peggy Plympton, Ed MacKay, Ann Spencer, John Palmucci, Tom Kingston (stop me before this list gets too long…). These industry “stars” have shaped the careers of so many of us, and it will be a joy to catch up with them in Baltimore.

Starting with the opening reception on Sunday evening, our theme of “Launching into the Future, Powered by the Past” will set the stage. We’ve broken our 100 years of history into segments to highlight, sharing EACUBO history, higher education history, and national/world events in each segment, including—

  • 1919 to 1944 – Wars, Prosperity, Depression and the New Deal
  • 1945 to 1960 – Postwar America
  • 1961 to 1989 – The Vietnam Era and Post-Vietnam
  • 1990 to 2019 – The End of the Century, New Millennium, the Great Recession

Whether it was the stock market crash of ’29, the Civil Rights Movement, the moon landing, or the new millennium, EACUBO has been active through it all. We’ll honor that history during our opening reception with newsreels, photo props, and association history tributes. We hope you’ll get in the spirit and come dressed for the evening in attire from one of the highlighted historical periods —there are lots of options to choose from.

As we move from the opening celebration to the content of the meeting, substantial effort has been invested in choosing general session speakers that can both illuminate issues of the past and help us stay ever-focused on serving our industry into the future. We are excited that this year’s speakers will reflect on themes that are critical on our nation’s campuses, including gender equity, educational access, science and technology, and individual differences. Our speakers include—

  • Geena Davis – In addition to being an Academy Award-winning actor, Geena Davis is a co-founder of the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), designed to champion women in media. BFF’s mission is to encourage content creation in film and other forms of media that reflects the diverse world we live in. BFF proactively supports content creation by women and diverse voices with a platform to showcase their work and, with the help of its partners, is the only film competition in the world to guarantee theatrical, television, digital, and retail home entertainment distribution for its winners. 


  • Freeman Hrabowski has served as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County since 1992. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. President Hrabowski chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the 2011 report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. He was named in 2012 by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. His 2013 TED talk highlights the “Four Pillars of College Success in Science.”


  • Susan Cain is the chief revolutionary of Quiet Revolution and the author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which is in its seventh year on the New York Times bestseller list.LinkedIn named her the 6th Top Influencer in the world. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed more than 20 million times and was named by Bill Gates as one of his all-time favorite talks.


  • Michio Kaku is one of the most widely recognized figures in science in the world today. He is an internationally recognized authority in two areas. The first is Einstein’s unified field theory, which Dr. Kaku is attempting to complete. The other is to predict trends affecting business, medicine, finance, and our way of life, based on the latest research in science. He has written four New York Times bestsellers. His latest is the Future of Humanity, which projects the future of the space program decades to centuries into the future. He appears regularly on national and international TV and hosts numerous science TV and radio programs.

In addition to our exceptional general session speakers, we will have a powerful array of concurrent sessions to provoke your thinking on issues of endowment management, strategic planning, technology trends, crisis response, and so much more. Renowned author Jacqueline Carter, for example, is also leading a session on mindful leadership.  

Throughout the three-day annual meeting, you’ll have time to mingle with the leaders of our industry, including business officers from our member institutions and representatives from a variety of corporate partners. Our exhibitors and business partners are all working to make this year’s annual meeting distinct and special as they too celebrate their commitment to higher education. In so many ways, we could not make this meeting as memorable and effective as we know it will be without the commitment and active involvement of our business partners. You’ll gain perspective by chatting with them and hearing their insights on the future of higher education and campus operations.

All of these reasons make the EACUBO 2019 Annual Meeting an event that should not be missed. And finally, there’s the ability to always be able to say, “Remember the 100th anniversary annual meeting?” You won’t want to have to sit silently over the years ahead when your friends and colleagues reminisce about this one.

My friend texted me later that day, after our conversation. She’s going. And you should, too.

Register Today!

Margaret “Peg” Cass Ferber

EACUBO President, 2007–2008

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