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Student Life Summit logo includes mountain shaped illustrations where the Ms are in the word Summit.

Student Life Summit

The Student Life Summit is an annual on-campus conference that explores emerging trends in student affairs.

The Student Life Summit is a professional development opportunity that focuses on a different issue in higher education each year. The summit consists of a visiting keynote speaker and breakout sessions hosted by staff and graduate students from the Division of Student Life. Colleagues from across campus are invited to attend.

Student Life Summit 2024: Exploring Our Work, Embracing Our Mission

Plan to join the Division of Student Life at the annual Student Life Summit on Wednesday, March 6. This full-day leadership and professional development event will provide opportunities to network with new colleagues, learn from leaders in various Student Life departments, and explore how you contribute to Student Life’s mission in your own role and responsibilities. 

Previous Student Life Summits

The Student Life Summit in previous years has had influential keynote speakers and presentations that tailored to Student Life staff. View these items of years past below.

Jane Miller

Headshot of Jane Miller

Jane Miller was responsible for creating a high-performing culture that drove customer experience, employee engagement, and financial outcomes for sustainable growth. As president and chief operating officer, Jane oversaw the worldwide operations of Gallup. She ensured all systems, resources and — most importantly — people were placed and aligned to achieve the goals of the organization.


Stephen Shields

Headshot of Jane Miller

Stephen Shields, a senior consultant at Gallup for more than 10 years, works with organizations to optimize their human capital. He consults with clients on leadership, employee culture, customer interactions, targeted hiring and talent development. Stephen provides practical insights and timely interventions that facilitate learning, execution and accountability.



Josie Ahlquist

Headshot of Jane MillerJosie Ahlquist has trained thousands of professionals and students around the globe on how to thrive online and in life. As a speaker, researcher, and author on digital leadership she takes a personal approach to transform how we view technology through the lens of empathy and empowerment that will result in stronger companies, communities, schools, and future leaders.

Josie received her EdD from California Lutheran University doctoral program, studying higher education leadership. She is an alumna of Northern Arizona University with a Masters’s degree in Counseling and holds undergraduate degrees from South Dakota State University, where she double-majored in Sociology and Human Development and Family Studies.

She is very attuned to the landscape of higher education and is passionate about developing the leadership capacity of college students, as well as administrators. She brings over a decade of experience in the field of higher education in areas such as student activities, campus recreation, student unions, marketing, residence life, judicial affairs, student leadership, and new student orientation. Josie currently serves as a research associate and leadership instructor with Florida State University teaching undergraduate, master and doctoral level courses.

“Can everyone see my screen?”: Zoom facilitation fundamentals and lessons learned during a pandemic

As we enter calendar year three of COVID-19, Zoom presentations, classes, and workshops have dominated our work lives. While modality shifts seem simple initially, we have all learned the difficulties and challenges that come along with such pedagogical changes. Join Ciara Gazaway (she/hers) from the Office of the Dean of Students and Bonnie Johnson (she/they) from the Pride Center as we explore the good, the bad, and the “ugly” of Zoom facilitation.

In this presentation participants will:

  • Learn virtual facilitation best practices and engagement strategies as well as community-sourced tips and tricks for virtual presentations, facilitation, classes, and other interactive workshops
  • Discuss their own experiences teaching/facilitating over the last two years and contribute to our community knowledge base

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Technology, Student Learning and Development

Breaking the Barriers: Generational Competence

Generation Z is the newest demographic cohort on the scene! As successors of Millennials, they are now the largest group of students attending colleges and universities. This session will guide professionals in navigating generational differences in the workplace as we aim to support Gen Z students on campus. This session will also dive deeper into understanding generational tendencies, assess professional challenges, and provide best practices to appeal to a new and growing generation.

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Student Learning and Development, Advising and Supporting

Learn, Lead and Serve: Measuring Success Through the New Strategic Plan

Strategic plans are grounded on the institutions’ mission, vision, and values, and they allow colleges to guide the distribution of resources (Hinton, 2012). The Division of Student life has entered a new era by launching the new Strategic Plan. This presentation will introduce participants to our Division’s new strategic plan. It will provide attendees with ideas on how to operationalize the concepts in the new strategic plan so they can use it to measure the success of their units. This session relates to the summit’s theme because it will provide strategies that will aid participants in “harnessing and influencing change” with the implementation of the new strategic plan.

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

Canva: A creative platform for Student Life departments

Maybe you keep hearing about Canva, but you aren’t sure what all the hype is about — this session is for you! Or maybe you’ve been using Canva for years and want to learn about the Division of Student Life license — this session is also for you! We’ll start with a brief rundown of all the capabilities Canva has to offer. Then, we’ll take a deep dive into the features of the Student Life Canva account for departments. We’ll cover how-to’s, best practices, and ideas for stepping up your Canva game!

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Technology

The Student Employee Experience

Come learn how RecSports incorporates NACE Competencies into our student employee experience. With 300 student employees and over 80 students in management positions, RecSports is engaging in strategies for our student staff to be career-ready and change the perception of the on-campus job experience. We will walk through our process of how we began utilizing NACE competencies from our recruitment and onboarding and our future plans of integration within our training and evaluation process. Attendees will learn about NACE Competencies and ways they can potentially incorporate it into their student employee experience.

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Organizational and Human Resources

Best Practices for Successful Engagement with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

The University of Tennessee strives to ensure that all students feel included and involved in our campus community, but a population that is often forgotten about is our deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports somewhere around 20,000 deaf and hard of hearing students attend post-secondary educational institutions each year. What does this mean for our institution? This presentation will discuss topics that will include some basics of Deaf culture, approaches for interacting with deaf individuals. We will also discuss how to make a request for interpreters and what the interpreter’s role is when they arrive. We want to emphasize the importance of creating an inclusive campus event is to ensure that in all aspects Vol does truly does mean All here at UT.

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Social Justice and Inclusion

Excel in Assessment

It is likely that in the 21st century higher education will use data on a level only previously imagined.  Data is being collected all around us.  From every Zoom meeting, we attend to the number of times we click on our favorite post.  In its purest form, that data is warehoused in a spreadsheet.  More times than not, that spreadsheet lives in Microsoft Excel.  In conjunction with this year’s Summit theme, and in alignment with the NASPA/ACPA AER Competency, this session hopes to provide attendees with some top tips for managing, cleaning, and analyzing data through the many features of Microsoft Excel.

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Assessment, Evaluation, and Research, Technology

Employing the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education Self-Assessment Guide to maximize your External Program Review

The Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education Self-Assessment Guide is an invaluable resource for any Student Life professional engaging in departmental program review.  This session will describe how to maximize the value of an External program review through the lens of the creation of the CAS Standards & Self-Assessment Guide, use for a self-assessment as a department head, use by an external reviewer from off-campus, use in translating recommendations to a strategic plan.

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

Student Life Summit Keynote: Engaging the Digital Generation

While perceptions and fears may exist, higher education must strategically approach digital communication technologies with possibilities to engage and transform our campus communities. From students, parents, alumni, donors, employees, and more, this session will offer impactful practices that you can apply to genuinely connect with your audience both online and on campus. This session will also take a “scroll” back in time, as we reflect on the impact of technology and social media on our society, the field of higher education, and even your life.

Navigating an unsettled world as an introverted leader

Navigating an unsettled world can be taxing for anyone. But, for the half the population in the United States who identify as introverts, these unsettled times present unique challenges and opportunities to thrive. This session will provide a foundational understanding of the strengths and challenges of introverted leaders and encourage participants to reflect on strategies to succeed in this loud and changing world.

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Leadership

Intentional Consideration for Guiding Practices

When you were hired for your current position, how did you know how to approach your work? Did you simply inherit someone else’s practices? This session will focus on using best practices to guide your work and identify ways to measure the success of your programs, services, and events. Additionally, this session will provide action steps for you to take back and apply to your current initiatives.

NASPA/ACPA Competency Area: Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

Digital Leadership: The research and practice of influence online in higher ed

Leadership by definition is changing. Higher education is changing. When you combine fast-moving technology innovations with a global pandemic, organizations and leaders were pressed into the digital platform to deliver services, communicate and lead. Change is now a constant and what is required of leaders. But leadership online was being presented far before COVID-19.

Josie began her research almost ten years ago, exploring how higher education leaders were showing up online, from Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, Instagram, and more. This research fueled her book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education: Purposefully Social Media in a Connected World. This session will educate attendees on the study of digital leadership, including frameworks used in K-12 and the NASPA/ACPA Student Affairs Technology and Leadership competencies.

Closing Panel on the Future of Higher Education

Dr. Ahlquist will host a panel of 4 Student Life staff members on the topic of the future of higher education.