A Guide to AMA Higher Ed 2019

I always look forward to the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education and have enjoyed being involved over the years—whether attending, presenting, podcasting about it on Higher Ed Live, or now serving on the conference committee. Next month’s conference marks the 30th year of AMA Higher Ed, the largest annual gathering of higher ed marketers, and the keynoters and overall program are especially strong. (I’ll share my own shortlist of sessions in a bit.)

I’m most eager for the big-picture discussions with colleagues about the dynamic nature of our industry. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen NACAC’s changes to its code of ethics regarding student recruitment, California legislation to allow college athletes to make money from endorsements, and another potential merger with Roosevelt University’s plans to acquire Robert Morris University. These and other emerging issues are full of nuance and complexity. In this changing landscape, the work of marketing leaders has never been more important. How might CMO roles continue to evolve and turn into de facto chief strategy or chief growth officers for their institutions?

All That Good Content

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season on the heels of the conference, your inspiration and takeaways could easily fall off the radar afterwards. Make a plan now for how you’ll share back at your institution. At my former university we were formalizing a process to ensure that our entire team would benefit from a colleague’s professional development opportunity. Someone attending a conference was expected to provide their top takeaway or insight, one item to champion or implement within the organization, and a summary of their notes from sessions.

Speaking of sessions, here are five breakouts on the AMA agenda I am planning to attend:

  • An Integrated Approach to Amplifying Research and Faculty Expertise—Boston University
  • Creating Brand-aligned Conversations by Teaming with Athletics—Beloit College and Campus Sonar
  • The New Recruit: Prospective Parents—Fordham University
  • Influencing Decisions with Alumni Insight Communities—Ohio State University
  • 9x5s—The nine rapid-fire five-minute talks are back by popular demand and will include RHB President Sam Waterson breaking down why talking about price in higher ed is so difficult.

Viva Las Vegas

AMA Higher Ed will head to Las Vegas for the first time, and I’m trusting that you won’t have to employ the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” approach for your visit. If you have some down time before or after the conference, here are some RHB recommendations.

Rob Zinkan, Vice President

If you’re a parent who likes to bring something home for your kiddos from your travels, the four-level M&M’s World is your friend.

Caesars Palace and the Strip will be nonstop activity. The sights, the sounds, the smells… well, it can be too much after a while. Don’t hesitate to spend an evening away from it all. The Mob Museum (the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement), the Neon Museum, and the Smith Center for Performing Arts—all nonprofit organizations—are worth an escape from the Strip.

So much natural beauty surrounds the Las Vegas area. The closest option is Red Rock Canyon, about a half-hour drive. I hope to make it there for a sunrise hike. You can find colorful geology and some great short trails about an hour away at Valley of the Fire State Park. If you have time to go farther, Death Valley National Park in California is a few hours away, and Zion National Park in Utah is within three hours. Zion is amazing.

Megan Miller, Senior Integration Consultant

Here are a few places recommended to me that also speak to my soul on deep levels 🙂 (aka they’re all vegan or vegan-friendly):

Dom Rozzi, Senior Integration Consultant

Hoover Dam is a short drive out of Vegas and worth it. If you want to get touristy, you can do a helicopter tour of Vegas and Hoover Dam.

Alex Williams, Vice President for Marketing Integration

That Nobu is 🙌 

Bonus rec: Katy Griffin, UNLV Social Media Strategist

A local favorite spot is the Pinball Hall of Fame at Tropicana and Spencer. The building doesn’t look like much (they are actually building a new building closer to the airport!), but it has the best selection of old school arcade games.

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Rob Zinkan

Rob is Vice President at RHB.