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Austin Attitude

April 2019

By Kirsten Hilgeford

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The NACUBO 2019 Annual Meeting returns to Texas after 20 years, and the host city—with its spirit of freewheeling innovation and eclectic assimilation—is the perfect destination for attendees to reflect on the road traveled and contemplate the path ahead.

One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Austin is music. With a thriving arts scene that includes more than 250 music venues and features the renowned music festivals South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin has certainly earned its moniker “Live Music Capital of the World.” But there is so much more to this city, which is steeped in a history of independence, innovation, diversity, and creativity.

The Capitol dome in Austin

Established in the 1830s along a bend in the Colorado River and on the edge of Texas Hill Country, Austin became the state capital in 1839. Over time, the city’s reputation as a hub of authenticity—as epitomized by the iconic slogan “Keep Austin Weird”—has been matched by its spectacular growth, historically doubling in population every 20 years. 

Individuality is on display everywhere you look in Austin. While the stately Capitol dome defines the familiar Austin skyline, you can see the city’s evolution and innovation through its architecture and businesses downtown. 

Since the 1950s, Austin has been a growing hub for technology companies, startups, and entrepreneurs looking to make their mark. It is now known as “Silicon Hills,” a nod to California’s Silicon Valley and the rolling hills of western Austin. Technology companies such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP, Intel Corp., Cisco, IBM, Apple Inc., and eBay, are just some of the 5,500 startups and tech companies that call the Greater Austin area home. 

Embracing diversity is also central to Austin’s character. The city’s varied cultural heritage is available for all to experience, whether you’re visiting Teatro Vivo, a bilingual theater dedicated to producing culturally relevant performance art addressing critical social issues about the Latino experience; sampling Asian-smokehouse-meets-Texas barbecue; or checking out one of the several all-black improv troupes performing at ColdTowne Theater. 

Embracing creativity, innovation, diversity, and independence has been essential to Austin’s journey, aptly positioning it to host the NACUBO 2019 Annual Meeting, which is based on the theme “We Are the Journey.” At the annual meeting, you will have a chance to collaborate, discover innovative practices, and hear directly from campus leaders, industry strategists, and peers as you journey into the future of campus finance and administration.

Network, Engage, and Collaborate 

Check out the annual meeting website at to see a list of options for targeted learning opportunities in small group meetings. 

Learning Opportunities

NACUBO’s four constituent councils have once again helped shape a collection of concurrent sessions designed to provide insights into focused topics and ideas within the framework of the comprehensive annual meeting program. Customize your learning experience by selecting from a rich menu of presentations that target the needs of NACUBO’s primary member segments: community colleges, small institutions, research universities, and comprehensive and doctoral institutions. 

Here’s a list of tracks that will be covered during the conference: 

Attendees can earn up to an estimated 14 CPE credits in these tracks. 

Explore and Discover

The annual meeting provides several opportunities for you to engage with your peers through fitness events, community service, tours, and more. Here is a look at the events: 

Perspectives From the Main Stage

Touching on topics from talent generation and the future of work to perspectives on the current political landscape, to where the financial markets are heading and how to be forewarned and forearmed, this year’s main stage speakers will prime attendees for a productive and meaningful meeting and help set them on the road to excellence. (Supported by Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, Grant Thornton LLP, and Wells Fargo)

Credit: Kate Becker Photography.

On Sunday, July 14, Josh Miller and Sarah Sladek will be discussing generations in the workplace. Miller is a passionate and informed advocate for his generation—Gen Z. At the age of 16, he’s an award-winning entrepreneur and thought leader who has met, and been mentored by, several notable business leaders. Miller brings considerable research and insight to his presentations, drawing on his experiences as both a high school student and a young consultant to Fortune 500 companies. Sladek is a leading researcher and foremost authority on Generations X, Y, and Z. Using her ability to deliver information in entertaining and provocative ways, Sladek will blend pop culture with best practices, trend forecasting, research, and strategy. This tandem talk will help you learn how to engage today’s students and young professionals and provide valuable insights into future workforce trends. (Read also “The Multigen Advantage”.)

Acclaimed journalist Clarence Page will address the conference on Monday, July 15. Page is a nationally syndicated columnist and a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board. He is also a regular contributor to news programs, such as The PBS News Hour, The McLaughlin Group, and The Chris Matthews Show, among others. Page is the 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary and author of the book Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity (HarperCollins, 1996). Through his insightful observations and amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes, this Washington insider will analyze and evaluate the 2008 elections and beyond, offering his own unique perspective on the current political landscape.


For the closing main stage presentation on Tuesday, July 16, Guy Adami, one of the original “Fast Money Five” on CNBC’s Fast Money and a veteran financial services leader, will share his expert, no-holds-barred assessment of how market trends will impact your business or industry now and in the future. An independent trader and champion for independent financial advice, Adami has held high-level leadership positions with some of the top financial companies in the world, including CIBC World Markets, AIG International Inc., Drexel Burnham Lambert, and Goldman Sachs. One of the most seasoned, trusted, and personable financial analysts in the field, Adami’s incisive breakdown of developing economic conditions will give your organization a competitive advantage in the U.S. and global marketplaces.


KIRSTEN HILGEFORD is associate editor, content for Business Officer.