Winter 2014

New Conference Director on Board

jeff-wolfeAfter 30 plus years in the corporate market, Jeff Wolfe has accepted the position of director of conferences and noncredit programs for Kansas State University’s Division of Continuing Education. Wolfe began the position at the start of fall semester.

The conferences and noncredit programs office provides conference and event planning services for the university as well as professional societies and associations. Each year it coordinates more than 120 programs spanning local, regional, national and international audiences.

“The most interesting and exciting part for me has been becoming part of a university,” Wolfe said. “I’ve really learned a whole new aspect of conferences. In the past I’ve planned conferences within the for-profit sector for insurance companies, telecommunications firms, corporations, the pharmaceutical industry — and that’s all very different from what we do here within the nonprofit sector. I’m learning how to best utilize my background and my experience to help shape our team into further growth.”

Originally from Syracuse, N.Y., Wolfe graduated from Syracuse University’s School of Management with a degree in human resources. He began his career in the hospitality industry working as a reservation agent and supervisor for American Airlines before being promoted to account manager for the airline service. He then became the vice president of sales for a large travel agency, developing corporate travel services and group travel for the local business community. Wolfe later founded two of his own planning services, Executive Meetings & Incentives in 1982 and Conference Partners in 2001.

“Jeff brings a wealth of experience from the conferencing and event management industry,” said Sue Maes, dean of continuing education at K-State. “His years of leadership in client development and retention, sales and marketing, finance, and contract negotiation for national and regional corporations adds to the depth of skills found among the conference and event planning staff at K-State.”

Wolfe’s main vision for conference services is to continue building the university’s brand while increasing awareness about the services his team can provide to the campus. Professional conferences and noncredit programs staff can assist faculty with all aspects of their event — from conceptualization through evaluation.

“We have a great opportunity to use our knowledge and experience in event planning and coordination to serve the K-State community,” Wolfe said. “It’s exciting to be part of the university and play a role in helping provide educational and professional experiences to those in Kansas and beyond.”

Tips for Planning Your Summer and Fall Events

If you are planning a conference or workshop for summer or fall 2014, start planning now. Whether you’re planning a small conference with your peers or a thousand-person conference for your association, K-State conference services has some simple tips and tools to help make the most out of your event, regardless of budget and scale.

According to conference coordinator Kathryn Harth, it’s all in the planning.

“Staying organized is key,” Harth said. “Veteran planners understand that nearly all conferences require the same key elements.”

  • Set your sights on the end results. Knowing what you are trying to accomplish is the first step.

“Knowing your goals and audience will allow you to determine how to market your conference, choose a venue, create an agenda that will achieve your mission and provide the planning team with a clear path to success,” Harth said.

  • Go with experts. The Division of Continuing Education conference services staff is composed of experienced event planners who are knowledgeable about state and university policies, understand contract legalities and hotel negotiations, and who will make every effort to ensure a successful conference for your participants.
  • Plan ahead. Schedule regular planning meetings, assign tasks with a timeline established for each milestone and set clear deadlines. A well-planned event will give you the opportunity to pay attention to the details and finishing touches in the final moments.
  • Let a conference services professional be your point person. The conference coordinator can manage all logistical details, from site selection to contract negotiations to final arrangements and vendor payments.
  • Set a realistic budget. Planning an event without a budget can lead to financial disaster and undue stress when decisions need to be made or final payments are due. A realistic budget will help with the planning process and set expectations on what you can and cannot achieve.
  • Choose your location wisely. It’s important to know the venue and staff who will assist you throughout your conference.

“Conference services can help you determine effective room sets and the flow of attendees during transitions, breaks and meals and appropriate signage to be placed throughout the venue,” Harth said.

  • Take advantage of registration services. K-State conference services will oversee the registration of your event, from creating registration forms, sending confirmation emails, collecting payment and providing refunds to answering daily questions from conference participants in the weeks leading up to the conference.
  • Confirm details. Let the conference services staff do all the last minute follow-up prior to the event so you can relax and focus on the content for the event and being the host for conferences attendees. Checklists with event details will be checked and double-checked by the trained conference coordinator.

Harth says the final step is to sit back and enjoy your event.

“With advanced planning and your conference services team, you will have an amazing event that will flow seamlessly,” Harth said. Contact K-State Conferences and Noncredit Programs today to begin planning your summer or fall event.

K-State Conferences Win Regional Awards

Kansas State University’s Conferences and Noncredit Programs team brought home two awards from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s (UPCEA) regional conference Sept. 25-27 in Minneapolis, Minn.

The Engineering Summer Institute received the Innovative Noncredit Program Award, presented to an outstanding new program offered within the last two years. Evaluation criteria included cost effectiveness, innovation, diversity, extent to which the program has fulfilled its objectives and contribution to adult and continuing education. The Engineering Summer Institute provided the opportunity for students from Gujarat Technological University in Gujarat, India to travel to K-State to complete two eight-week courses in electrical and mechanical engineering disciplines taught by K-State faculty.

The Mature Noncredit Program Award was given to the Kansas Transportation Engineering Conference. This award is given to a mature program that has been offered for the past five years and demonstrates sustained innovation. Other evaluation criteria match that of the Innovative Noncredit Program Award. The 2013 KTE featured 38 speakers and more than 550 attendees. This annual conference plays a leading role in the development of and communication surrounding transportation innovation in Kansas.

Debbie Hagenmaier, K-State assistant director of conferences and noncredit programs, serves as the regional chair for UPCEA.

“As regional chair, I preside at regional business meetings held during regional and annual conferences,” Hagenmaier said. “This year I also had the privilege of being the emcee at the awards ceremony at the regional conference.” In her role as regional chair, Hagenmaier also serves on the UPCEA regional cabinet.