June 15, 2005
What Happened In Vegas?
So maybe our in boxes are a bit fuller than those of you who stayed at home last week, but it was worth the trek to Las Vegas.
First, a toast to our hosts, UNLV's William S. Boyd School of Law and their ASP Director, Professor Pavel Wonsowicz, and LSAC, the organization that graciously covered our airfare, registration and most of the week's meals.
The Conference offered a day of events on Wednesday for newcomers, and the event kicked off with an opening reception and dinner that evening at the swanky Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel, which, gratefully, had no slot machines to blink, beep, whistle or otherwise make a racket in the reception area, unlike the airport and most buildings on the strip, but that's another story.
After a rousing welcome by UNLV Dean Morgan, UMKC Dean Ellen Suni and President of the AALS Section on Academic Support led an exercise on how to select students for a first-semester ASP program. Working through an exercise on how to whittle down a list of applicants for a program during break out sessions made for a lively debate.
Leading the discussion on whether to limit program sizes for academic assistance programs were Ann Iijima, William Mitchell College of Law, Carolyn Nygren, Nova Southeastern University - Shepard Broad Law Center, and Martha "Marty" Peters of University of Iowa College of Law.
After lunch, a new panel discussed program models that included UCLA's Kristen Holmquist, Whittier Law School's Mario Mainero, Roger Williams' & this blog's own Dennis Tonsing, Herbert "Herb" Ramy of Suffolk University Law School, and UNLV's Pavel Wonsowicz.
An evening in local restaurants, hosted by LSAC, gave us all terrific opportunities to swap ideas and stories about our programs, among other topics of idle and not so idle conversation.
(The following evening we got together in groups and enjoyed meals together as well)(L-R Dionne Koller, Alison Nissen, Ellen Swain, Jennifer Swezey, Marcia Goldsmith, Tracey Banks Coan).
While mention of the B-A-R passage rates can often stifle a conversation quickly, Friday's sessions offered some valuable suggestions on how to approach the issue at your school.
The afternoon offered a choice of six break-out sessions on topics varying from the role of academic support and the bar exam, program models, learning theory, training and evaluating teaching assistants, and ways to help students manage their time more efficiently.
Saturday's sessions offered a morning of discussion and braining storming about professional development and ways to achieve your own professional goals.
The afternoon strategic planning session spilled over into an unexpected session of brainstorming for the future of Academic Support, led by Seattle's Paula Lustbader.
Here's a positive use of peer pressure. Encourage the presenters to send their program materials to the blog. Just include them as attachments in an e-mail to either one of us (check out the top left-hand column of the blog) and attach your program materials. Really, share the wealth.
Amid the fruitful exchange of ideas and the hallway business card swapping, the chance to talk with others who confront the same challenges at their law schools was truly reviving and offered some opportunities for ground-breaking brain storming (really, it's not hyperbole). Meeting the incredibly bright and talented men and women who work away quietly in the ASP field as tenure-track professors, instructors, assistant professors, directors and assistant deans was a real gift. And, wow, do they have great ideas.
My hunch is that program participants felt a little more revived than the man sitting next to me on the plane out of Vegas on Saturday morning who oozed stale beer and said, "I just wanted to let you know that I may need to jump up and run to the bathroom," which brought my gloating over the fact that I had an aisle, not middle seat, to an abrupt halt.
Before he nodded off into a clearly needed slumber he said, "Vegas always seems like such a good idea before you go and not so good on the way home." I suppose that was true for most of my fellow travelers on the plane, but then again, they didn't attend the ASP conference.
Now back to the overflowing in box. Hopefully, thanks to the fine planning work of the ASP Section of the AALS and LSAC we'll all have an opportunity to get together again soon. (els)
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