Slate Summit Recommendations for 2022

The 2022 Slate Innovation Summit is almost here, and after a forced three-year hiatus for this in-person event due to the pandemic, the RHB team is eagerly anticipating our time in Nashville with the larger Slate community. As veteran attendees, we’ve learned a lot over the years about how to make the most of this experience, and each of us has our list of Slate Summit recommendations, “must-dos” and “must-sees” for the 2022 event.

If you’re wondering what to expect or how to prepare, we’re here to help. Our resident culinary experts have prepared a guide to our favorite eating experiences in Music City to ensure that you don’t go hungry; if you love good food, we’ve got you covered! We also asked our team for their best tips and tricks for Slate Summit, and they gave us a wealth of valuable advice, which we’re happy to share with you below.

See you in Nashville!

Abby Molen  Senior Technology Consultant

The sheer volume of sessions offered at Summit can be overwhelming, so help yourself avoid conference burn-out and make a plan in advance. If you’re traveling to Nashville with a group, this means using the classic divide-and-conquer approach: set a meeting a few days before Summit to plan your schedule with your colleagues, identifying your “must attend” sessions in each block. You can cover the most ground by avoiding overlap, but you might also plan to attend key sessions with other members of your office. If a colleague will be attending a session on your behalf, write out your questions in advance to help them take notes that will be useful to you later.

For those attending Summit solo, you’ll have to select just one session to attend in each time slot. Don’t focus all your attention on one topic or the content you hear may become repetitive — I’ve found it helpful to switch between technical- and strategy-focused presentations on similar topics. Not sure where to start? Look for session topics that address an immediate need in your office or that feature presenters from peer institutions. Consider asking your colleagues to draw up a list of topics they are most interested in, and select sessions that may address those interests.

Abby had more great advice to share a few weeks ago in her Slate Stage session, Tour Guide Applications and Management; watch the recording of her presentation here.

Abraham Noel  Senior Technology Consultant

Summit is the event I most look forward to with the Slate community. You will see people there that you may talk to frequently or just once in a blue moon. Use the opportunity to connect with folks that are facing similar challenges, and converse with them about how they’ve addressed these issues (or how you did!). The discussions I’ve had at Summit have challenged me to re-examine my approach, informed the broader context of best practices and inspired me to take on new and challenging projects with the system.

Also, you might see some of the smartest people in the Slate universe dressed as androids, dancing sharks or secret agents. It’s a Slate thing — just go with it.

Alana Allekotte  Technology Consultant

I’ve learned that there’s a real value to carving out time with your team, both before Summit for some advance planning and after the event to connect about what you learned. Before you go, it’s great to identify any priorities for upcoming projects to keep in mind, flag specific sessions and topics for learning and think about what other kinds of Slate users you’re looking to connect with. You can also schedule some post-Summit time to reconnect to share what you learned, who you met and identify opportunities to apply those connections and newfound knowledge to the priority projects that are on your list.

Alex Williams  Senior Vice President for Relationship Development

When it comes to Slate Summit recommendations, I’d boil it down to this: be inquisitive, leave inspired, set expectations. In addition to all of the wonderful community resources that are out there and available, Summit is your opportunity to dive in deeply with users from around the world. You’ll come with questions and ideas and leave ready to take it all on. If you’re with a team, they’re going to have their own takeaways and cool things to pursue; by coming together as a team post-Summit, you can help set expectations on where those new ideas fit into old priorities or how you might re-envision things you’ve previously built through new functionality you’ve seen. Most importantly, it’ll be key for you to report back to those who couldn’t make it to Summit, articulating what’s coming down the road and tempering all of the excitement into a tangible and attainable roadmap to further advance your Slate database.

When I think about what I’m personally excited about? Five years ago Erin Gore and I presented at the first Technolutions Base Camp. As many of you know, Basecamp was discontinued this year and our team stepped in with the sold-out inaugural RHB Academy. I’m thrilled that we’ll see many new faces there and that our team will be able to share their unparalleled expertise on not just how to build in Slate, but also how to think strategically about leveraging the platform to meet institutional goals. Finally, as a remote company, I’d be remiss not to mention my excitement at having the entire RHB team together for our pre-Summit Crew Advance, which is something I look forward to every year.

If you’d like to benefit from more of Alex’s wisdom, you’re in luck! In May, he joined RHB teammates Josh Henry and Megan Miller on the Slate Stage for Developing a Best-Fit Governance Model to Manage Your Slate Instance, so check out the recording for more great Slate recommendations.

Alisa Chambers  Designer and Front-End Developer

This will be my first Summit experience and, I must say, I do feel a bit overwhelmed. That schedule is no joke! While Slate is not new to me, there is so much to Slate that I don’t get to see in action, and I’m excited to dive in to the many, many ways outside of Portals and Deliver that users leverage Slate to improve and enhance both the student lifecycle/journey and the work processes for Slate teams. I’m looking forward to seeing those examples that are leading-edge and that will inspire and further advance our work. I’d also love to pick up some deeper strategic knowledge and more Slate-speak so I can keep up with my colleagues (ahem, John Michael; cough, Dom). And of course, connecting with other front-end developers who are also attending Summit will be fantastic — if you’re doing that kind of work, be sure to say hi!

By the way, wish me luck…this will be my first week away from my 16-month-old!

Amanda Sale  Senior Consultant for Enrollment Management

The inspiration and ideas that I heard from colleagues from around the world and throughout our industry — and, even more interestingly, outside of it — has made the Slate Summit one of the best experiences I’ve had as a professional. After four years of attending in-person Slate Summits, my recommendation is to come with a plan to find that inspiration. It was my goal at every conference to bring back one idea that was immediately actionable, one that would take a year or so to build out, and then one that I would call my rainbows and unicorns that was likely not attainable, but something to inspire us to work towards and try to accomplish.

Dom Rozzi  Senior Technology Consultant

Slate Summit is, among other things, a treasure trove of ideas. In order to harness all that Summit can provide, it’s critical to do some planning. If you’re joining with teammates, think about a divide-and-conquer strategy in order to access as many ideas as possible. If you’re going it alone, take a good look at the presentations to determine which ones will be most likely to offer the ideas and concepts that you can carry home with you to enhance your work environment. Also, when sitting in sessions be sure to include the presenters’ names and contact info in the notes you’re taking. That way, you can follow up with those folks when you return to the office and begin implementing your ideas if you need some directional assistance. There will be an overwhelming amount of information in the air. Take in what you can; you can revisit the rest in the future.

When planning your schedule, think about your role within your office and what you can learn to make the biggest impact. Look for those sessions. If you’re configuring Slate for operational process efficiencies, I’d suggest looking at Bellarmine University’s Strategic Plans, Partnerships and Pipelines: Building a “Slate-Way” for Small Team Collaboration and Efficiency, Bentley University’s Utilizing Slate for Internal Project Management and University of Rochester/EnrollmentFUEL’s Creating Your Slate Succession Plan. If you have a more specific role in event management, Yale and Mizzou’s session Using Configurable Joins to Simplify Event Communications in Deliver or SuPORTALing Your Events from the teams at Lewis University and Suffolk University might be interesting. If you’re in a position where portals might be on the horizon as future enhancements — both internally and externally — I’d look at the session from Clarkson and Georgetown: Exploring the Wonderful World of Portals. Again, the most important thing to remember is this is an idea gathering opportunity. Yes, you’ll need to pick up tips and tricks to implement these ideas, but creating the “thing” that will benefit your office has to start somewhere and your imagination is a great place to start.

If you want to learn more from Dom, check out the recording from his May Slate Stage session with RHB teammate Joanna Poole and Wellesley’s Jess Ricker, Slate Career Trajectories.

Erin Gore  Vice President for Client Technology

​​​​Slate Summit isn’t a conference — it’s an experience. It’s an experience that provides you with the opportunity to connect with and learn from colleagues in higher education. I’ve been to Summit as a client, a member of the Technolutions team and now a preferred partner. No matter your role, you’ll be surrounded by members of the Slate community who share ideas centered around transforming education.

As you check out the Summit schedule, you might feel slightly overwhelmed. That’s okay! The learning never stops in Slate. I remember teaching at both Base Camp and Summit, looking out into the audience and seeing those “lightbulb moments.” Whether you have been in Slate for one year or five years those moments do not go away. Seek them out. You bet I will! Lastly, remember that Slate provides tools and technology to help you achieve your goals — it doesn’t define them. Don’t forget the importance of having a clear strategy, goals and priorities. We consistently have conversations about this at RHB and will be extending the conversation to the last session at Summit, Leveraging Slate as a Tool for Success: Leadership Perspectives Throughout the Enrollment Funnel, led by my colleague Ken Anselment.

Jessica Rutledge  Client Success Coordinator

My first visit to Summit was in 2019. Words can’t express the excitement and energy I felt being surrounded by the Slate community. At the time, our Slate instance was relatively new, and my wildest dreams could not have prepared me for what I was about to see. I returned from Summit with such enthusiasm to get work and new motivation for taking our instance to the next level. Here are a few Slate Summit recommendations I can offer for making the most of your experience:

  • If you’re with a group, divide and conquer. There are so many wonderful sessions to attend and so much content to absorb. I know it can be fun to travel as a group when you’re at a conference, but trust me, you want to attend as many sessions as possible. There is so much content that is not to be missed!
  • Temper expectations. You are going to see a lot of really cool things and naturally, you’ll want to implement it all as soon as you return to the office. Organize your thoughts, notes and ideas, and set realistic goals and timelines for implementing. Remember, some of the schools showcasing their work have been using Slate for many years; this level of greatness didn’t happen overnight.
  • Network, network, network! There is nothing like having a network for Slate peers to connect with post-Summit for idea sharing and troubleshooting. Also, Slate people are really cool so that’s an added bonus!
  • Plan a meeting post-Summit with your colleagues that didn’t attend to share what you learned. You’ll want to do this shortly after you return to the office, before the enthusiasm dies down. I remember my colleagues feeling so inspired by what I shared; they were equally as motivated to get going on new projects!
  • And lastly, wear appropriate shoes! I didn’t realize quite how much walking would be involved over the course of the Summit and you can guess I won’t make that mistake again. There is a time and a place for fancy shoes, and it is not at Summit!

This year I will be attending Summit not as a Slate user, but in my role assisting Slate users in bringing to life the hopes and dreams they have for their databases. I am looking forward to meeting (in-person) many of our clients that I speak with daily, as well as connecting with many others. After two years of remote work, I am really looking forward to seeing my colleagues and interacting with people in person again. There is a certain energy generated by being together that can’t be replicated virtually!

Joanna Poole  Technology Consultant

I have found that Slate Summit has become some of my favorite professional days of the year. My best advice is to have a plan, whether attending with a group or alone. It’s important to know where your database currently is, where it can go in three, six or nine months, and where you see it going long-term. This will help you determine which sessions are aspirational and which ones are practical. It can be overwhelming to see all of the different sessions and exciting things Slate has to offer, but it’s important to remember what is best for your database and institutional needs. Just because it can be done in Slate doesn’t mean it has to be done right away! Take good notes and connect with the presenters; you can explore more when you get back to your campus.

John Michael Cuccia  Senior Technology Consultant

Each Slate database is so delightfully organic to each institution that no one is truly alike. There are certain rules, boundaries or agreements for how your database works. It’s a bit of The Matrix — and Summit is a prime opportunity to unplug yourself from it and get a glimpse into the larger Slate-osphere.

Come as a sponge and set your headspace to brainstorm mode; take it all in and reject no idea. Certain sessions on the menu may speak to an institutional need, priority or aspiration: go to those and soak up everything you can. What areas do you already feel confident about? Identify presentations that let you look through someone else’s lens on those topics. Pay attention to — and absorb — those perspectives and consider how they might impact, evolve or enhance your own work. Check out sessions from these Slate Hall of Famers: Ron Boczarski and Justin Harville (Exploring the Wonderful World of Portals), Nathan Gault and Emily Toops (Using Slate Across Campuses, Divisions, and Offices), Megan Story (Best Colleague Ever: Collaborating and Documenting for Slate Success) and Matthew Schieren (What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been).

Before you depart for Nashville (yes, for, not from), clear the runway in the week after to wring out your sponge. When I was at an academic institution, we created a simple shared spreadsheet to brain-drain summaries and takeaways from each session we attended, indicated whether there were action items we could take or knowledge we could share with each other, and then — most importantly — mapped out a goal date to take meaningful steps forward. Do your future self a solid by intentionally creating this opportunity for yourself and your team or unit to make the most out of what you absorbed. Your important Summit work and investment should not end in Music City.

Summit always makes me feel like a tuning fork: I leave with a buzz or a resonance, and that hum creates this sort of momentum that inspires the second half of the year. I hope the same proves true for you, and I look forward to Summit-ing with you again in Nashville!

Want to learn more from John Michael? Check out the recording of his Slate Stage presentation from May, Custom Portal Elements.

Jolene Monson  Senior Technology Consultant

The first time I went to Summit, I learned the hard way: breakfast closes promptly before the first session of the day. No food, not even coffee, is served after. My team and I were hangry all morning. I suppose it was a great bonding experience—we still talk about it. Terrible hangry experience! Get there in time for breakfast.

In terms of the actual sessions, I’m looking forward to seeing the new ways that Slate technology is benefiting schools on all parts of campus. Over the last few years, schools have expanded their use of Slate into financial aid and student success. I’m hoping to spy on a few sessions to see new creative ways schools are solving problems outside of just admissions and even outside of the undergraduate student population—there are a few presentations of student success being used for graduate and business schools, like University of Chicago’s Now What? How to Prioritize Your “Free Time” to Build Out a Student Success Instance of Slate on Thursday afternoon. Summit is a great way to get those creative ideas for the next stage of your school’s Slate database.

Josh Henry  Senior Technology Consultant

Slate Summit brings together an impressively diverse collection of higher education professionals, thanks in large part to Slate’s use at schools and campuses of varying types, sizes, and locations. And because Slate is used so widely and in so many different capacities, attendees represent a broad range of roles at their institutions compared to many other conferences you may attend. It’s an exciting opportunity to meet new people who work in very different roles than yourself, or work in similar roles but at very different schools. And as you meet these new people, take advantage of the opportunity to learn how they’re using Slate. The conversations you have while grabbing a meal or refilling your coffee offer as much inspiration as the sessions you attend.

My previous Summits have been as a Technolutions employee, and this will be my first Summit as a Slate user. Though Summit has always been an amazing, invigorating (and yes, exhausting) experience, I’m looking forward to being able to soak it all in this year as I attend sessions and discover new strategies and approaches that will help the fantastic institutions we work with at RHB!

And most of all, I am looking forward to being with my colleagues, interacting with clients and catching up with friends, all face-to-face (mask-covered or not).

Kaylene Roering  Technology Analyst

I have come to expect that my task list going into Summit may look completely different by the time Summit comes to a close. The way the list not only grows but also evolves in just a few days always gets me. From new features being released to leadership pivoting priorities based on new insights to how those small perfect nuggets of information make a world of difference in a process I was developing— there is so much potential for a rapid change in tasks. Changes that bring growth and excitement for another cycle!

To be more practical with my Slate Summit recommendations, let’s chat about shoes: not only will you be covering some serious ground at Summit, but you’ll want to account for that walk to the venue as well. In 2019, I finally planned ahead and carried some flats in my bag, and I still remember how happy that made me. Save yourself some blisters and pack your flats (or some bandaids)!

Ken Anselment  Vice President for Enrollment Management

Alexander Clark graciously spent an hour letting me interview him in Fall 2021 for an episode of The Admissions Leadership Podcast (“The ALP”). If you haven’t yet met Alexander — or even if you already have — and want to learn more about his backstory as well as the origin story of Slate in his own words, check it out. Then at Summit, if you get a chance, while you’re sharing this year’s signature Slate cocktail with him and snapping a selfie (which he’ll gladly oblige) be sure to ask him about the bucket list item he shared with me on the pod.

For those of you whose roles may not allow you to live in the day-to-day of Slate, look for ways you can inspire your colleagues at your institution with great ideas from your colleagues at other institutions. One of the beautiful things I learned about Summit when I attended as the chief enrollment officer at my previous institution was that we were all there—many of us working for colleges in direct competition with each other students—sharing ideas and innovations with those same competitors, because they can make our lives better as professionals, and, more importantly, the students we serve.

Ready to learn more from Ken? Don’t miss his session with leaders from Lawrence University, Auburn University and Seattle University, Leveraging Slate as a Tool for Success: Leadership Perspectives Throughout the Enrollment Funnel, on Friday at 11:15 a.m.

Megan Miller  Senior Technology Consultant

Before I arrived at my first Summit, I conceptually understood the nuts and bolts of the event, and I expected a conference where I would connect with other Slate users and discover new opportunities for bettering my Slate database. This is all true, but what I didn’t understand was the sheer scope of this event: thousands of Slate users, hundreds of institutions, dozens of sessions, all feeding off of each other to create an experience that is inspiring and energizing, but also a bit overwhelming, especially for newer Slate users. If I were to go back in time and redo that first experience, my top Slate Summit recommendations would be:

  1. Plan Collaboratively: Review the session schedule and note those sessions that seem most helpful and relevant for your work. Don’t worry if you’ve got multiple sessions in the same time block highlighted; just look at those abstracts for now. Then, connect with other attendees from your institution or within your network and identify how you all can divide and conquer—you can’t be two places at the same time, but you may be able to split things up between colleagues so that you’ve got someone there to take notes on your behalf.
  2. Use LinkedIn to Your Advantage: Love it or hate it, LinkedIn really is the best resource for building your professional network, and it’s especially useful at conferences like Summit. Before you head out to Nashville, do a few things:
    • Review your profile to ensure that it’s up to date and accurately reflects your current work.
    • Set up your public profile URL so that it’s easy to share, if you haven’t already done so.
    • Create your profile QR code and save it to your photos so that fellow attendees can quickly scan it and connect; review LinkedIn’s instructions to get started.
    • Use the #SlateSummit tag to find other Summiters and to share about your experiences. Prior to Summit, consider browsing this hashtag or creating a post sharing that you’ll be attending, and reach out others to connect. This can help you coordinate opportunities to meet up while you’re there in person. (And by the way, if you’re nervous about sending one of those network invites to other attendees, feel free to send me a connection request to get started; I’m always excited to digitally meet new Slate friends!
  3. Leverage the App: Technolutions has set up their Summit resources right in the Slate app so that you can build your schedule, navigate the venue, explore speaker bios, review the #SlateSummit Twitter feed and more. Use this to your advantage to stay informed on everything that’s happening and consolidate all those Summit logistics into one spot — right in the palm of your hand! If you haven’t used the Slate app before, just note that you’ll need to input your Slate database login credentials in order to add the Summit app site.
  4. Create a Plan for Your Takeaways: You’ll probably find yourself saying, “I want to do that in Slate!” what feels like a thousand times while at Summit, and you’ll certainly have several of those “Aha!” moments while amongst your fellow Slate users. Don’t leave all of this behind in Nashville! To really make the most of all that you’ve learned, once you’ve returned home, be sure to carve out some time to debrief with your teammates and break each brilliant idea down as follows:
    • Define It: Is this a new feature to leverage? An update to your current processes? A module to build? A revamp of your current structure? Figure out where each idea fits.
    • Determine the Impact: How would implementing this affect the rest of your database or your team? What benefit would it offer, and what resources would it require?
    • Decide on Next Steps: Is this a good fit for your Slate framework? Should you move forward immediately or wait until a later date? Is this something to build out in stages or all at once? Who will be responsible for implementing this and managing it once it’s in place? Work with other stakeholders to plan and execute on what you’ve learned.

If you’d like to get more insights from Megan, join her, along with our friends from Case Western Reserve University and the University of Kansas, for Yes, Graduate Programs Can All Just Get Along: Tips and Tools for Slate Success on Friday at 8:45 a.m.

Nina-Marie Rivera  Senior Technology Consultant

When you’re attending Summit for the first time, it is important to take a deep breath and take it all in. Some of it may be overwhelming, but you are in a safe space, and as a community we are here to help you! In terms of Slate Summit recommendations, one piece of advice I’d share is to always jot something down to remember the individual when you are collecting someone’s business card or contact information. Maybe it was their presentation at Summit or you heard a good conversation about a portal — it’s nice to have something to reference when you get back home.

There are so many great sessions this year (cloning myself may be required)! I’m definitely looking forward to sitting in on Using Slate to Communicate with and Empower Staff. I always tell institutions there is power in numbers, and it’s great to hear about how schools are sharing the Slate love with their teams. Who Ya Gonna Call? Making the Most of Slate Voice also looks like a good session, and I’m very interested to see how institutions are leveraging this functionality. My background is in psychology, so I’m excited for Agents of S.L.A.T.E. (Students Learning Achieving and Transcending Excellence) – How NYU Employs and Develops Undergraduate Students; it will be interesting to see a good theory put into practice.

More than anything, I’m excited to learn how folks are being innovative with their databases and seeing the community in-person. Have fun, everyone!

Want to connect with the RHB team while you’re at Summit? Stop by our booth at the Summit Showcase to say hi; you can find us in the Exhibit Hall C Concourse on Level 3 of the Music City Center. And if you’d like some time with a member of our team, you can schedule an appointment — we’d love to meet with you!

  • Spread the word
Megan Miller

Megan is a Senior Technology Consultant at RHB.