Southeastern Leadership Conference: A decade later

After ceasing to host the event for a decade, the university is bringing back the Southeastern Leadership Conference.

ExCEL Scholars is responsible for the resurrection of the conference.

According to ExCEL’s webpage, “The Southeastern Leadership Conference is an opportunity for students to participate in a one-day virtual conference with interactive and engaging sessions on a variety of topics that are relevant to today’s students.”

Zachary Rogers, leadership and service coordinator for student engagement, said he does not know what the conference was like pre-COVID. He shared what he thinks the conference may have looked like in comparison to this year’s conference. 

He said, “If I had to guess, based on what we had planned before we were told to go virtual, the conference would have been in many big rooms between Fayard, the Union and maybe D Vickers. There would have been presenters in each room talking about the topics that they chose to speak on for the conference. The Student Union ballroom would have been our conference hub where the keynote speaker and opening and closing would have been.” 

Compared to previous years, Rogers said that this conference is different because speakers will talk about topics by students, for students. 

He explained, “This conference is different because we have both students and professors speaking about topics that were chosen for students, by students. We will also be sending a conference box with some fun and interesting items to those who attend the conference.”

For students curious how the conference would help them, ExCEL’s webpage describes the conference as a great leadership opportunity.

“This one-day leadership experience provides an opportunity for students to hone their leadership skills and explore new ways of thinking,” according to the webpage. 

Rogers said that the transition from an in-person format to a virtual format was smooth. However, he noted there are some challenges. 

“The biggest challenge with this conference being virtual is keeping students engaged throughout the entirety of the event and interacting with them. There is only so much you can do from your side of the computer screen,” he said. 

At the event, Rogers said students can look forward to many activities like guest speakers and scholars who will help host presentations.

According to Rogers, “We will have Darryl Bellamy from CampusSpeak as our keynote speakers, and our Scholars will oversee various presentations from students and staff in addition to a few icebreaker activities.”

The conference will also hold an interactive speed networking session hosted by the executive board of the conference, according to Rogers. 

While the conference is online due to COVID-19, Rogers said he hopes to change the conference back to an in-person event as the COVID-19 health risks subside.

Rogers said that they originally went virtual because other universities were invited.

“We decided to go virtual because we originally had the conference open for people from other universities as well. Going virtual would have minimized COVID-19 risks while also making it easier for those students to attend. They would not have had to travel ‘x’ amount of hours to only be here for five hours,” he said. 

The Southeastern Leadership Conference will be April 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and requires a $10 registration fee. Registration is set to close on Wednesday, April 21.