Wednesday at Ellucian Live 2016: It’s been an awesome week

Wednesday at Ellucian Live 2016: It’s been an awesome week

By Brenda Somich on Wednesday, April 20, 2016


After a whirlwind week in Denver, it’s hard to believe the event is over. At the risk of sounding cliché, it seems like we just got started. In case you’re a little fuzzy from the elevation and lack of sleep too, here are the highlights you want to remember from the past couple of days in the Mile High City.

After a deeply moving keynote session yesterday, attendees were on an inspirational high as they navigated their way through the Colorado Convention Center to attend the morning breakout sessions.

The Exhibit Hall on Tuesday was abuzz with activity from Ellucian partners and staff who were having a lot of fun demonstrating the latest solutions.

After lunch, attendees indulged in a dazzling display of desserts (all colored purple). About the time the sugar rush wore off, they gathered around the wheel for the much-anticipated Grand Prize drawing: 30 finalists, two winners. For those that missed it, a big round of congratulations to Vesna Sarafov from Lamar University and Dana Mooney from University of Arkansas who won vacations to Orlando and San Diego. Enjoy the sun.

After another busy day, attendees suited up in their finest western wear and giddy-upped over to the Western Stock Show for a honky-tonkin’ good time. There, they channeled their inner cowboy/cowgirl for a night in the Old West with line dancing, live rodeo, dueling pianos, mechanical bulls, and themed food and drinks.

Western hoedown at Ellucian Live

Though the fun carried on well into the evening (and a little later for some), most attendees were eager to tip their hats and head back to the homestead to rest up in anticipation of this morning’s keynote.

Australian explorers James "Cas" Castrission and Justin "Jonesy" Jones did not disappoint. The recount of their epic, 2,200 km, 90-day expedition through Antarctica was an emotional and inspirational journey for everyone involved. There was humor, shock, and, at times, tears as Cas and Jonesy relived their death-defying experience and put into context how much planning, preparation, and determination can influence outcomes and help you reach your goals.

James 'Cas' Castrission and Justin 'Jonesy' Jones

To add even more excitement to the tale, the journey to reach and return from the South Pole was not just about finishing—it was about winning. The team had competition each step of the way from Norwegian adventurer Aleksander Gamme, who was determined to beat the duo to the finish line. After a series of trials and tribulations, good sportsmanship, humility and kindness, the team finally finished the journey together, realizing the supreme reward of teamwork as they made expedition history.

In closing, the duo referenced poet T.S. Eliot’s famous quote, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
T.S. Eliot

Those themes: planning and perseverance, teamwork and community, resonated with the audience. We expressed our thanks for their awe-inspiring story with a tearful standing ovation. It sent the #eLive16 Twitter stream humming, many attendees shared the value of teamwork on social media with tweets such as this: “Competition is a great motivator but it's much more rewarding to celebrate your victories together.”

This dovetailed nicely with guest speaker Brigitte Ann Collins, chief information officer at the University of the West Indies, who believes that every institution should strive to become more student-centered. For Collins, making the student the center of the campus’ universe is not an easy task but key to helping more students succeed. The University of the West Indies and Ellucian have been partners in higher education for the past 24 years. “The success of our marriage with Ellucian is measured by the success of our students,” she said.

“The success of our marriage with Ellucian is measured by the success of our students.”
Brigitte Ann Collins, University Chief Information Officer, University of the West Indies

Then Jeff Ray took stage to thank this year’s speakers and recount the highlights of their awe-inspiring stories and their dedication to education and charitable initiatives. We are proud to announce that we raised more than $15,000 this year for the Magic Johnson Foundation, and want to express a sincere thank you to everyone who donated to his mission to provide educational resources to underserved communities. We hope charity raffle winner Christi Padgett from the University of South Alabama enjoys her new GoPro® Hero4.

And of course, we want to congratulate this year’s winners of the Ellucian EllumiNation Awards who demonstrated that creative solutions pave the way for student success.

Congratulations to:

  1. Old Dominion University for winning the Campus EllumiNation Award
    By providing easy-to-use mobile applications the university provided 1,524 students and their parents with secure access to student information, 17,968 students provided accurate and current information, 5,430 students used the new electronic transcript process, more than 6,000 new incoming freshman and transfer students registered over the summer of 2015, and 24,000 existing students completed their registration in November 2015 for the upcoming spring semester
  2. Avi Badwal, senior director of Enterprise Technologies at the University of San Diego for winning the Community EllumiNation Award
    Mr. Badwal and his team dramatically enhanced student engagement both inside and outside of the classroom by building several mobile apps that make it easy for students to get all the information they need right from their smartphones. Since launching in March 2015, approximately 2,400 University of San Diego students used the Insight app to complete more than 120,000 tasks.
  3. Virginia Henderson, chief financial officer and vice president of Business Affairs at Belhaven University for winning the Executive EllumiNation Award
    Her colleagues credit her for revolutionizing the way the institution operates and reshaping their future through the use of technology. Belhaven created one, all-encompassing system that combines their data in a central location, creating a seamless process to handle students, finances, and reporting.

After the announcement, Ray shared thought-provoking quote from John Fitzgerald Kennedy, written in the speech he was not able to give on the day of his assassination on November 11, 1963, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Ray closed this year’s final general session by saying “We should never forget the impact we have on learners around the world.” He challenged the attendees to reach another 3.5 billion students.

Loved this year’s event as much as we did? Imagine it without the snow. Save the date and plan to join us for Ellucian Live 2017, March 19–22 in Orlando, Florida.

View more photos from Ellucian Live 2016

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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.