Fall 2020 Newsletter
TACUSPA President's Message
Hello, TACUSPA friends and colleagues,
I hope that you, your loved ones, and colleagues are doing well.
I recently took a trip to the Gulf with my family, a staycation if you will, and it was there that it hit me that I was beginning the end of my journey of one of my greatest honors, serving as your President.
I have been reflecting since then and have come to realize that while this year has included stress, late nights, and frustrations for many of us due to a variety of issues that have impacted our lives and our respective campuses, it has led to innovative collaborations, building comradery, and sharing in small joys and surprises destiny delivers us in the middle of a pandemic.
One of those small joys for me has always been our Annual Conference. It is a time to reconnect with former colleagues and friends that I just won’t have in the same sense this year, but alas virtual connections will have to suffice until we see each other next year in Dallas.
I am looking forward to the knowledge and experience that our keynotes and presenters will share with us next years. Thank you to all of you for taking the time submit a proposal and share your experience and knowledge with us this year.
As I thought about my journey with TACUSPA and the many conversations that have led to this year, I thought of my first conversation with Ramces and Quynh-Huong. I shared a vision of what I hoped our conference would look like and while we aren’t physically in Austin, they delivered. I owe them and their committee a very deserved thank you, and that doesn’t seem to be enough.
The other group that deserves an endless amount of thanks is the 2019-2020 TACUSPA Board. We started this journey together over a year ago now and have supported each other through promotions, the impact of a pandemic on our personal lives and jobs, celebrated new additions to our families, gone virtual and created a new Strategic Plan for an Association we all hold near and dear to our hearts. For all that you have done, will do, and for your support and encouragement this year, thank you.
Lastly, I will leave you with a link to our Proposed Strategic Plan. Next week, you will receive an email with a link to vote on the proposed plan. We have made edits taking your comments into consideration and are now ready to present to you the final proposed plan for voting. Thank you for your time and feedback.
As always, may you be seen, supported, and valued.
Iliana B. Meléndez
We encourage you to learn more about the work of the Board of Directors by reviewing our meeting minutes.
LT Robinson serves as Senior Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Q: When did you first become a member of TACUSPA?
A: I officially joined TACUSPA in 2018 and attended my first conference last year. However, both of the Texas institutions where I have recently worked have been big supporters of TACUSPA.
Q: What do you find most valuable about being involved in the association?
A: Connections and networking are essential resources for higher education professionals. Although I am still generally new to TACUSPA, each experience has been welcoming and supportive. It has been so rewarding to learn and grow with a variety of fantastic individuals in TACUAPA. Additionally, offering affordable and accessible professional development opportunities throughout our student affairs.
Q: Are you registered for the upcoming annual conference?
A: Yes! I am looking forward to connecting with everyone.
Q: What advice do you have for those who will be attending the conference virtually or who are new to the association?
A: Look through the offerings to identify what works best with your schedule and challenge yourself to explore topics that are not in your comfort zone. You never know what kernels of knowledge you may need in the future.
Q: What is the best advice you received as a new professional that you still use today?
A: The best advice that I received as a new professional was to accept and own my mistakes willingly and wholeheartedly. Humility and honestly are so crucial towards building trust with others. Our colleagues and mentees need to see that we are human, make mistakes, and take a solutions-oriented approach to address and repair these challenges.
Q: What advice would you give graduate students and new professionals today?
A: I have two pieces of advice. First, identify your character and leadership strengths to develop a leadership philosophy. Select grounded theories that match with your style so that you may take active steps to enhance your approaches.
Second, take ownership of your professional development and explore as many options as possible throughout and beyond the field. Consider internships, externships, practicums, meetings with seasoned professionals, mentorship, and short-term volunteering to expand your knowledge and hone your skills.
Q: What strategies have been most helpful to you, navigating COVID-19? Have you experienced virtual engagement fatigue?
A: I am an introvert, so the first few months were not internally stressful. However, managing and supporting our team and our campus community's needs presented significant challenges. Our outcomes are not perfect but are generally working well. I am not personally experiencing virtual engagement fatigue yet, but others may be on that track. Hosting divisional and departmental virtual coffee breaks help with the monotony, and changing up meeting length and embracing new technological tools help a lot.
TACUSPA Foundation Virtual Silent Auction Donation Request
The 2020 TACUSPA Annual Conference will take place Virtually October 26-28th. During the conference we will be hosting the annual Silent Auction virtually. The Silent Auction features an eclectic array of items contributed by our membership, with proceeds supporting the Thomas Moorman Fellowship Program and Graduate Student Scholarships. The Silent Auction provides opportunities for you to find that perfect item for yourself or someone else and support TACUSPA’s effort to engage and develop Texas student affairs professionals.
The Silent Auction relies on the TACUSPA membership to donate items for the auction. Please give strong consideration to donating an item this year. When considering items to donate, please make sure they would be easy to mail or even send electronically. Please find the donation item instructions below:
Item suggestions and ideas!
Please email Elizabeth (Elizabeth.email@example.com) with any questions.
We hope you are excited as we are about the TACUSPA conference being right around the corner! Like last year, we will be implementing a regional challenge where the winning region will earn bragging rights for the upcoming year.
Taking into account the number of schools in the various regions of Texas and who is registered for the conference, we have broken down the regions as follows:
The competition begins now and every donation made through our online portal will be counted toward this competition, including Century pledges. Don’t delay, make your donation now!
If you are unsure of the impact of your giving, please take a moment to read how our graduate scholarship impacted a master’s level student.
Rohit Prasad, M.Ed.
As a graduate student, cost had always been a huge deterrence in attending professional development opportunities. However, with the TACUSPA scholarship, I was able to get my registration fee waived and had the opportunity to attend the TACUSPA conference, including the New Professionals Institute. Being able to connect, and more importantly, learn from the experiences of other graduate students and professionals was extremely valuable to me. This experience combined with learning about ways we could improve our practices within the student affairs field made the scholarship and conference of great benefit to me as both a student and professional.
Precious Femi-Ogunyemi, MEd.
In 2015 I received the graduate scholarship to attend TACUPSA and I was thrilled to connect with fellow graduate students and professionals at the conference. Little did I know, that a few years later, when I moved to Chicago, I would get to work alongside a colleague I met at TACUPSA. The scholarship provided me the first opportunity to form professional connections outside of my institution and within higher education.
The Big 12 LGBTQIA & Allies Summit will be February 26-27, 2021. The Summit is open to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners regardless of institutional affiliation (i.e. there is no requirement to be aligned with a Big 12 institution). The Summit will use a virtual format this year due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. More information about the Summit will be coming soon at https://www.depts.ttu.edu/lgbtqia. Questions about the Summit should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quarterly Report (Qtr. 4)
Download the Quarterly Report.