Plenary Sessions

Keynote • Thursday, February 14, 7:00 – 8:15 pm
Developing Lifelong Energy: The Lost Mission of General Education

Leslie WongLeslie Wong, President—San Francisco State University

The historical mission of General Education has been losing ground to vocational, job preparation messages. Helping students initiate a challenging intellectual journey, developing personal and social values, and comprehending a learned life ahead are not mutually exclusive from career, job-minded goals. Just as majors and minors change often, jobs and careers do too. But a value-driven intellectual journey starts early, sees little change, and often never ends. Career choices and personal lives are inspired by this learning. General Education is crucial to this “start.” Wong will share a president's perspective of life-long learning as inspired by his first year at college, 51 years ago.


Leslie Wong is president of San Francisco State University. He leads more than 3,500 faculty and staff as they serve a student population of over 30,000 and is committed to providing SF State students with an exceptional educational experience forged in the intellectual energy of one of the world’s most innovative cities and fostered by the diversity, creativity, and dedication of SF State’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Prior to his appointment at SF State in 2012, Dr. Wong served as President of Northern Michigan University.  Earlier in his career he held executive leadership positions at Valley City State University, the University of Southern Colorado, and Evergreen State College. This fall Dr. Wong announced that he will retire at the end of the current academic year.

Dr. Wong  serves on numerous boards and community organizations, including the Board of Directors for AAC&U, and has received a number of national and community awards including the 2014 Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE) President's Award for Leadership and Contributions in Higher Education as well as the Region VI NASPA President’s award.  He is also a member of the prestigious Committee of 100, a national and international organization with the dual mission of advancing constructive dialogue and relationships between the United States and Greater China and advocating for Chinese American rights in the United States.

Dr. Wong holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology from Eastern Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Washington State University. He maintains research interests in educational technology, academic assessment, and the role of underrepresented minorities in the academy.

Plenary • Friday, February 15, 9:15 – 10:15 am
Who's Hiring Liberal Arts Graduates? 

Anders.jpgGeorge Anders, Editor at Large—LinkedIn, and author of You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a "Useless" Liberal Arts Education

There's wide agreement that a broad liberal-arts education is invaluable preparation for rich, lifelong careers in almost any field. But what about the challenges of finding the right first job, immediately after graduation? This talk will highlight some encouragingand troublingtrends about students' first destinations. It also will set forth a series of concrete steps that can help us all do better.
George Anders is the author of five business books, including the New York Times best seller Perfect Enough, and his latest, You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a Useless Liberal Arts Degree. He started his career as a journalist at The Wall Street Journal, where he shared in the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He has also written extensively for Forbes, Fast Company magazine and other publications on a wide range of business topics.

Most recently, George has joined LinkedIn’s fast-growing editorial team as a senior editor. There, he writes the bi-weekly column “College, Careers and You.” He also is deeply engaged in developing next-generation social-media tools that can help job seekers become career ready. He seeks out situations where algorithms and the human touch need to work in harmony.

Closing Plenary • Saturday, February 16, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Learning Happens Everywhere: Strategies for Assessing Co-Curricular Experiences

Parnell.jpgAmelia Parnell, Vice President for Research and Policy—NASPA

Higher education institutions are filled with opportunities for students to engage with others outside of the classroom. The personal and professional skills that students acquire in co-curricular environments are often highly-valuable to their academic progression and career preparation. As more institutions recognize the benefit of integrating campus experiences, it will be important for professionals to appropriately identify and measure co-curricular learning. This session will highlight how institutions across the United States are increasing their provision of co-curricular opportunities and refining their approaches for assessing the learning that happens in those spaces. Woven throughout the session will be four effective strategies that support the concept that learning happens everywhere.
Amelia Parnell is vice president for research and policy at NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. She directs the Research and Policy Institute (RPI), which links research, policy, and effective student affairs practice in support of student success. Prior to her arrival at NASPA, Amelia was director of research initiatives at the Association for Institutional Research (AIR), where she conducted two national studies related to future directions of the institutional research function. Her current research portfolio also includes studies on leadership attributes of college presidents and vice presidents, documenting and assessing co-curricular learning, and assessment and evaluation in student affairs.

Amelia is co-editor of the newly-released book, The Analytics Revolution in Higher Education. She is a member of the board of directors for IDEA and serves on advisory boards for several other higher education organizations. Amelia holds a Ph.D. in higher education from Florida State University and masters and bachelor’s degrees in business administration from Florida A&M University.