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Montréal: Melding Old and New

April 2016

By Khesia Taylor

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Step into the future of higher education at the NACUBO 2016 Annual Meeting, July 16–19, in Canada. A host city with a flair for honoring the past while embracing the future, Montréal is the ideal location for forward-looking professional development, based on firm foundations.

Edited by Khesia Taylor

The city of Montréal at sunset.

Multifaceted and dynamic, Montréal is the largest city in the Canadian province of Québec. The vibrancy of the city stimulates the senses through education, history, food, and culture.

In a city that’s effortlessly blending the old with the new, visitors and residents alike are able to easily explore all that Montréal has to offer. Home to historic cathedrals, museums, and buildings that date back to the 17th century, old Montréal is the hub for the city’s culture. At the Notre-Dame Basilica you can take in religious art, including an interior chapel that was inspired by Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; in the Centre d’histoire de Montréal you will find exhibitions on the history and heritage of the city; and Château Ramezay, the first building in Québec to be classified as a historic monument, offers community-based educational and cultural activities that link the past to the present.

With a rich and extensive history, it’s no wonder that the city also offers a bustling art, fashion, and food scene. New art institutions like DHC/ART and Phi Centre offer exhibition and performance spaces; specialty boutiques display the latest in eclectic fashion designs; and, with a wide range of culinary options from modernized French fare to gourmet markets, Old Montréal is now the city’s top neighborhood for quality restaurants. The city is known for its diversity and features its own Chinatown, Little Italy, and Little Portugal, which add to the robust cultural scene.

Montréal has all of the above, but add to that list its energetic and lively summer festival series, and it becomes a top go-to North American city. Every summer, the city hosts Just for Laughs, the world’s largest comedy show; Montréal International Jazz Festival; Montréal World Film Festival; Montréal Fireworks Festival; and much more. With all that the city has to offer, it’s no wonder that it was named a “city of design” by UNESCO, and one of the 10 happiest places in the world by Lonely Planet travel guide.

Montréal’s Just for Laughs festival

As Montréal thoughtfully infuses new traditions with its prominent history, it is the perfect backdrop for this year’s NACUBO annual meeting, themed “Les Fondations for the Future.” Through general, concurrent, and specialized sessions, attendees will learn how ideas from the past and successes and challenges from the present are building the foundation for the future of higher education.

Network, Engage, and Understand

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

Powerful Presentations

Once again this year, the guidance of NACUBO’s four constituent councils resulted in a collection of concurrent sessions designed to provide insight into focused topics and ideas within the framework of the comprehensive annual meeting program. You can customize your learning experiences 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 is a brief sampling of the programs:

The Montréal Biosphere structure

Applaud, Explore, and Dine

Whether you want to tour Montréal, catch up with colleagues, or stay on your fitness program, the NACUBO 2016 Annual Meeting includes those opportunities and more. Take a look at what’s in store:

Cirque Éloize will provide dance and theater, during the NACUBO 2016 Annual Meeting opening event.

Engaging the Conversation

This year’s general session speakers will share insights on higher education of the past, present, and future, and what today’s business officers can do to remain ahead of the curve and prepare for the shifting dynamics at colleges and universities.

International speaker and best-selling author. Sir Ken Robinson, author of The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education (Viking, 2015)—which includes groundbreaking research and tackles the critical issue of how to transform the nation’s troubled education system—will speak on Sunday, July 17.

His book, Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life (Viking, 2013) was a New York Times best-seller. He’s an internationally recognized authority on creativity and innovation in education and business. Videos of his famous talks to the prestigious TED Conference are the most viewed in the history of the organization and have been seen by an estimated 300 million people in more than 150 countries.

Robinson led a national commission on creativity, education, and the economy for the United Kingdom government; was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the peace process in Northern Ireland; and was one of four international advisors to the Singapore government for a strategy to become the creative hub of southeast Asia.

He is called “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” by Fast Company magazine and was included in Thinkers50 list of the world’s leading business thinkers. Robinson was also named one of TIME/Fortune/CNN’s Principal Voices. (See the interview with Sir Robinson, “Education Transformation”.)

Dialogue on Diversity. The annual meeting theme Les Fondations for the Future recognizes the strong foundation on which higher education was built and expands our thinking on the new directions in which we need to move in the times ahead. The general session on Monday, July 18, will be a discussion focused on diversity, and incorporates the idea that student activism and the questioning of societal systems can be an incredibly powerful tool for transformation and change.

The three-person panel will reflect on the power of education, the importance of understanding differences, and how institutions of higher education can better embrace the diversity and inclusion dialogue on their campuses. Attendees will gain insight and guidance on how to initiate these conversations with their students, faculty, and communities. As campus leaders at the helm of an institution’s administration, chief business officers are uniquely positioned to connect campus sectors and promote collaboration throughout their institutions. This dialogue aspires to provide our members a place to learn and inspire action.

The diversity panel will include the following thought leaders:

Johnetta Cole. As president emeritus at Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C. Cole, has a long career as an educator and humanitarian. She was the 14th president of Bennett College, where she completed a $50 million campaign, opened an art gallery, and initiated programs in African women’s and global studies. Cole’s career as a professor and administrator spans over three decades, which include a number of “firsts.” In 1987, she became the first African American woman to serve as president at Spelman College, Atlanta. She then became the first African American woman to serve as chair of the board for the United Way of America.

In addition to being president emeritus of Spelman College, and Professor Emeritus of Emory University, Atlanta, she is also the author of numerous publications for scholarly and general audiences. Her most recent publication, co-authored with Dr. Beverly Gu-Sheftall, is Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities (One World/Ballantine, 2003).

Cole, who serves on various boards and is a consultant on diversity matters, has received numerous awards, including the TransAfrica Forum Global Public Service Award, the Dorothy I. Height Dreammaker Award, the Joseph Prize for Human Rights presented by the Anti-Defamation League, among many others. Her powerful messages prove that barriers are meant to be broken, and the most unlikely people can achieve the ultimate rise to success.

Bryan Stevenson. A MacArthur fellow and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson is a founding leader of the movement against mass incarceration in the U.S. He also recently served on President Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing.

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass., and moving to the south, Stevenson started the Equal Justice Initiative. At the time, the region was on the verge of crisis—states were speeding up executions and many of the condemned lacked appropriate legal representation. The cases he took on would change his life and transform his understanding of justice and mercy.

Referred to as “America’s young Nelson Mandela” by Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, Stevenson’s work has generated national attention and his efforts have reversed death penalties for dozens of condemned prisoners. His TED Talk on the subject of injustice was named one of five essential Ted Talks by The New Yorker.

Stevenson is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant and the NAACP Image Award for Best Nonfiction. He was also named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2015 and is a tenured law professor at New York University, New York.

Ray Suarez. A veteran journalist and host of Al Jazeera America’s daily program Inside Story, Suarez has an extensive television and radio career. Inside Story brings together voices from different perspectives and takes an in-depth look at the story behind the headline, and examines how decisions made in D.C. impact people on the ground.

Prior to joining the new American news channel, he served as the chief national correspondent for Newshour at PBS, from 1999–2013. Before PBS, Suarez hosted National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation for six years.

His other on-air credentials include the monthly foreign affairs radio program America Abroad for Public Radio International and a weekly political program Need to Know for PBS. He also anchored the weekly Latino politics show Destination Casa Blanca for HITN TV.

Suarez is the author of Latino Americans (Celebra, 2013), the companion book to the PBS documentary series of the same name; as well as The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America (Harper Perennial, 2007); and The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration (Free Press, 1999).

In 2010, Suarez was inducted into the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of the Ruben Salazar Award from the National Council of La Raza, the Distinguished Policy Leadership Award from UCLA’s school of public policy, and the Studs Terkel Award from the Community Media Workshop.

Leading economic expert. Chief economist and co-founder of Moody’s, Mark Zandi, who directs the company’s research and consulting activities, will speak on Tuesday, July 19. He is a trusted nonpartisan adviser to policymakers and a reliable source of economic analysis to businesses, media outlets, and the public.

Zandi is often praised for his accurate insight and ability to clearly communicate complex topics, including macroeconomics, financial markets, and public policy.

Formerly an economic adviser to John McCain during his presidential campaign, Zandi also provides insight to the Obama administration and testifies regularly before Congress on topics that include the economic outlook, the nation’s fiscal challenges, the merits of fiscal stimulus, financial regulatory reform, and foreclosure mitigation.

His recent research has focused on the determinants of mortgage foreclosure and personal bankruptcy, the economic impact of government spending, and appropriate policy responses to market bubbles.

Often featured on CNBC, NPR, and CNN, where he shares his economic insight, Zandi is also the author of Financial Shock (FT Press, 2009), a critically acclaimed exposé of the financial crisis. His latest book, Paying the Price (FT Press, 2012), provides a road map for meeting the nation’s daunting fiscal challenges.

KHESIA TAYLOR is associate editor for Business Officer.