The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Giving, Changing and Learning at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference

More than 900 higher ed HR professionals from all 50 U.S. states and more than 15 countries came together in San Antonio, Texas last week for the CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo 2014.

Inspiration and Giving

Author and Walgreens Chief Diversity Officer Steve Pemberton kicked off the conference with an inspiring message during his keynote presentation. Here are just a few of the takeaways shared by attendees:

Attendees also put the idea of giving into action during the Helping Hour event by writing down their favorite children’s book titles. Through the help of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), a nonprofit organization that helps inspire children to read, all 600+ titles that were contributed will be used to create a piece of artwork that will help encourage reading among children at one San Antonio-area school. Through the Helping Hour, CUPA-HR and Fidelity Investments were also able to donate 1,200 books to J.B. Passmore Elementary School. CUPA-HR also donated $2,000 to RIF on behalf of all concurrent session presenters.

Change Imperative

Change was just one theme that seemed to be a topic of conversation everywhere at the conference. On Monday of the conference, innovation expert Lisa Bodell gave a compelling keynote on change and innovation that punctuated the importance of those conversations. Here are some of the most memorable tweets from people who attended her presentation:

Conference attendee Justin Harris of Tennessee State University was also inspired by Bodell’s talk and shared his thoughts in this blog post, Day Two at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference.

In addition, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Bath served as great examples of change in action during the concurrent session, “Turning the Tide: Innovative Approaches to Changing Negative Perceptions About Change.”

For more insight into change and innovation, check out the blog post Innovation at Work, inspired by Bodell, or find out about her latest book in the blog post 8 Great Reads on Cultural Change, Diversity, Recruitment and Talent Management.

Peer-to-Peer Learning

concurrent_5-cupa-hr-annual-conferenceIn addition to powerful keynote presentations, attendees also took part in workshops and concurrent sessions that were selected for the conference based on CUPA-HR’s Learning Framework, which outlines competencies critical to higher ed HR pros. These blog posts offer highlights from some of the most popular workshops and sessions:


Ira-cupa-hr-annual-conferenceAttendees demonstrated their HR legal prowess during the Legal Update Super Session presented by CUPA-HR General Counsel Ira Shepard. Attendees guessed 8 out of 10 cases correct during Shepard’s quiz on HR legal questions. To catch up on some of the latest court cases that have implications for the higher ed workplace, check out these blog posts or visit the conference handouts site to download Shepard’s presentation and quiz your HR staff.

Attendees can also download Josh Ulman’s Washington Update presentation and key takeaways on the conference handouts site. Ulman gave a thorough update on public policy topics such as the ACA, recent NLRB activity and others. Please note: the handouts site is available only to conference attendees.

In addition to the 900+ attendees at the conference, many higher ed HR professionals who could not attend — such as those at Rollins College — were able to follow along through the event’s social media page:


Looking Forward to 2015!

We’re still reading through the attendee evaluations, but judging from these comments via social media and others from attendees and exhibitors, this year’s CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo was a great success! Check out the conference photo slideshow to see for yourself.

Be sure to mark your calendar for the 2015 conference Orlando, Florida, September 27-29.