During June 8th – 10th of this year, UC Clermont will be hosting the 2017 Summer Midwest Regional Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). This event, supported by the National Council of Teachers of English, invites educators from across the country to learn about and explore diversity in writing.
Dr. Sharon Burns, an Associate Professor of English at UC Clermont College, is co-coordinating the CCCC event with Dr. Brenda Refaei, an Associate English Professor at UC Blue Ash College, and Dr. Christopher Carter, an Associate Professor in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. Burns felt it was important to mention that this conference “is not a one person show.” She is primarily in charge of the logistics of the event, and Dr. Refaei and Dr. Carter are in charge of putting together other specifics of the conference. There are also some problems that go into coordinating such an event. For Dr. Burns, the most difficult problem is getting answers. Burns says, “I need to know about everything [regarding logistics], from accommodations for our guests to transportation for our participants, to budgetary issues, to food service—you name it.”
However, these problems are not discouraging Dr. Burns. She feels as though great things will come out of the conference, not only for the professors, but also for students. She says, “When we were putting this proposal together and coming up with a conference theme, we were at a precipice for big change in this country [the election]… and our thought was that we needed to make sure that no voice was lost in this process.” Dr. Burns also mentioned that the conference is a way for faculty to understand “the value of diversity in writing.” She adds, “We want to help faculty understand the value of diversity so that they can then move this understanding onto their students.”
In fact, Dr. Burns wants students to be involved with the conference, whether it is English majors or anyone interested in writing. She said, “We want [the students]to serve as ambassadors at the conferences. They may serve as a moderator for some of the sessions; they may give directions, [and]they may be there to hand out programs. Who knows? But we want students involved in the conference,” because this is a conference “about and for” students. Dr. Burns explained that if students want to get involved in the conference, they should either contact herself or one of the other two chairs of the conference (Dr. Refaei or Dr. Carter).
The CCCC event is not only an amazing event in and of itself; Dr. Burns noted that it is amazing because it is a national conference, meaning people from across the country will be coming to UC Clermont. “In short,” Burns said, “it’s going to make us look really good. It’s going to give us a little clout across the university, and having a co-chair from the different colleges—Clifton, UCBA, and here—is a huge deal for all of us.”
For UC Clermont in particular, Dr. Burns added the following: “When people come to our campus, they fall in love with the place. It’s just a unique, beautiful campus, and [the conference]gives us exposure to the community,” demonstrating that UC Clermont is a place that really cares about education. She also added, “To my knowledge, this will be our first national conference on this campus. We’ve held a lot of advanced conferences, but this will be our first national one, drawing a broad audience.”
Dr. Burns painted a very optimistic picture of the possibilities this conference will afford UC Clermont, but she also mentioned some interesting negatives to having the conference. “Probably the one negative, and I think my co-chairs would agree with me here, this is the first time [for the summer conference], so we’re breaking a lot of new ground. There are a lot of things we don’t know.” She said that all the co-chairs are relying on their experience with conference planning as a way to bring this conference together.
Even with this in mind, however, Dr. Burns has several goals she wants this national conference to achieve. First, she would like it if everyone left the conference being “better educated about the value of diversity among our students”—that is, the ideas and thoughts a student has to offer. Second, she wants this conference to bring recognition to UC Clermont and to the University of Cincinnati: “The recognition that this is going to bring to Clermont and to the UC is huge. It’s a good place with great people, and to highlight that, I think, is critical.” And third, Burns wants the conference to provide “national resources at a regional level.” In fact, she would guess that many individuals in the region have never attended a national conference, and since this conference is being held at Clermont, Dr. Burns believes it will enable many individuals to have access to information and experiences they may not have had access to in the past.
All things considered, Dr. Burns said she is “very optimistic,” even though she admits that two months ago she might have said otherwise. Not only will this conference provide access to national resources, but it will also enable many individuals to come to UC Clermont and explore an important and timely topic: the value of diversity among its students. All of us are proud and excited to host this event, and are looking forward to enlightening and educating visitors from around the country this summer.