Tuesday at Ellucian Live 2016: The power of a global community

Tuesday at Ellucian Live 2016: The power of a global community

By Brenda Somich on Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Excitement crackled in the air yesterday—especially after Magic Johnson’s inspiring keynote session. After an action-packed day of breakout sessions and activities in the Exhibit Hall, attendees had a difficult decision to make: which reception to attend. Rather than choosing from all the fun options, some folks simply popped in to more than one.

While we can’t cover them all, we can’t resist mentioning these:

Monday night networking reception — What better way to unwind after a busy day? After yesterday’s sessions, attendees gathered in a packed Exhibit Hall to reconnect with colleagues, partners, and peers.

International reception — Hosted at the Embassy Suites, more than 250 global attendees representing nearly 30 countries danced to a Latin band and enjoyed regionally inspired hors-d'oeuvres. The music, food, and fun flowed all night.

One community, one goal

In our Tuesday general session, we learned how connected we really are. Ellucian executives Toby Williams, senior vice president, chief product and strategy officer, and John Kopcke, senior vice president and chief technology officer, offered a technology solution update. They showcased the Ellucian Ethos Platform with client case studies that demonstrate our four key value drivers and solutions built specifically for higher education.

Jeff Ray and Dr. Mansoor Al Awar

Following the technology and solutions update, CEO Jeff Ray took a moment to express sympathy for the victims of the recent earthquake in Ecuador before welcoming Dr. Mansoor Al Awar to the session. In a candid discussion with Ray, Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, chancellor of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, offered a global perspective on competency-based and transformative learning. He believes that the three keys to smart learning include accessibility, commitment, and concentration and that higher education should be more accessible, flexible, and affordable.

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” —Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University

After demonstrating his commitment to improving education in impoverished countries, he gave a clear call to action for Ellucian Live 2016 attendees: “Education should have no borders. It is our job as educators to break down the walls.”

For many attendees engaging with the discussion on social media, it was clear Dr. Mansoor Al Awar’s words struck a chord. Many attendees tweeted what he said: "Our minds are like parachutes, they work best when they are open, and education is the key."

Jeff Ray added, “We have an opportunity with education to lift refugees out of poverty. We can make a profound difference.”

Ray then played a touching welcome video for the next keynote presenter, refugee lawyer and freedom fighter, Deng Thiak Adut. Deng Adut shared his inspirational story of overcoming pain, violence, and loss in war-torn Sudan. After surviving a violent youth as a childhood soldier, Deng Adut was later transported to Kenya as a refugee where he lived for 14 months before migrating to Australia. With little resources available to him, Deng Adut learned to speak English and later enrolled and successfully graduated from law school. After later losing his brother in the Sudan war, he made a commitment to give back to those afflicted by the displacement and volatility of war. His sincere and heartfelt gratitude for his education resonated with the audience.

Deng Thiak Adut

“Like bees, we have the ability to pollinate the world with our positivity and knowledge.” —Deng Thiak Adut, Defense lawyer, community leader, and refugee advocate

“The knowledge that you gain, is not yours. You have to pass it on. Give it back to society.” —Deng Thiak Adut, Defense lawyer, community leader, and refugee advocate

“Education should not just be about reading and writing only, it's about understanding culture.” —Deng Thiak Adut, Defense lawyer, community leader, and refugee advocate

It’s clear that the common theme prevalent at this year’s event is the power of a global community. And for CEO Jeff Ray, higher education can close the global economic equality gaps. Jack Kramer, senior vice president of customer perspective at Ellucian, concluded by exemplifying Ellucian’s commitment to student success. “This is why we do what we do,” he said. “It gives us a higher purpose and meaning.”

Come back again tomorrow—we’ll have another daily post with highlights from the floor.

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About the Author

Brenda Somich

Brenda Somich

Director of Corporate Marketing at Ellucian

Brenda Somich is a dedicated marketing professional with more than a decade of experience developing brand awareness and demand generation programs.