2019 NASPA Annual Conference

#NASPA18 Day Four Wrap Up Blog: Anchoring to Hope


#SnowstormQuinn had an unexpected impact on Day Four of the 100th NASPA Annual Conference. So as not to be grounded by the weather, many attendees had to bump up their travel plans and head out early, leaving our numbers small but mighty as we gathered for the closing session. Luckily, Dr. Larry Roper, our closing speaker, generously agreed to be streamed live, and Philadelphia International Airport and 30th Street Station were filled with #NASPA18 attendees waiting to board delayed flights and trains while tuning into the timeless wisdom of one of the living legends of student affairs via Facebook Live. Dr. Roper’s message—unsurprisingly— fit like a glove, offering inspiration for heading back to our challenging work through the storm; offering an anchor to hope.

One of the most engaging aspects of hearing Dr. Roper speak is the humility and openness he embodies when addressing his community, many of whom have been personally inspired by his work throughout their personal journeys in the profession. By addressing his own challenges, Dr. Roper only increased the intimate feel in the space, revealing, “The hardest part of my job is impulse control. Because I have an answer for everything. But I need to honor silence, listen to people. And ask for permission to be in someone’s life.”

Dr. Roper gifted those gathered with a heartening reframe of our purpose as a profession, saying “You have to stay anchored to the gift of what we get to do. Every day I get to see miracles. Every day I get to see the power of education. I get to see lives transformed.”

Dr. Roper encouraged us to prioritize self-healing and focus on the pathway towards the best version of ourselves; too many of us suffer in silence and must move to a place where we can ask for what we need. He called for a deepening of our community such that its support is able to be felt by each of us in the daily grinds on our campuses, saying “Our profession is community. Wherever we go, we’re going to go together. Community is a group of people who make each other’s condition our own. The work of the heart is not a solitary journey. We have to nourish and inspire one another. We need to ask ‘How is your heart? How is your spirit? How can I be there for you?’”  

Below are just a few of the additional thoughts Dr. Roper shared with attendees at the #NASPA18 closing session. We invite you to bookmark this page and come back to his words whenever you most need to hear them.

“We need to recognize the seriousness of our work, but also the gentleness it requires to do that work effectively.”

“You shouldn’t try to influence the direction of someone’s life unless you have a deep affection for them. Consider how you feel when someone you don’t know or like tries to give you advice. People who love you, you can hear from them. Start by talking about your commitment to them.”

“We have to think about the quality of our touch. Our fingerprints are left all around our campuses. Where is your presence felt and where are your fingerprints left on the soul of your institution? Have you touched in a way that will lead to healing?”

“Part of learning different voices is our ability to listen. What is the texture in the way people are talking about an issue? How can I respond to you in the same voice that I heard you in? We shouldn’t just dismiss the voices that are hard to hear.”

“The messages that we communicate will echo in the minds and hearts of others long after we stop speaking. We need to find a voice that is healing and uplifting.”

“Do you have the ability to bring lightness into the lives of others? What is the condition of your heart and spirit? What possibilities are you holding? Leaders hold the possibilities of their institutions.”  

“We have to be intentionally loving, even in those moments when we feel rage. Love and fear cannot occupy the same space. Never apologize for being fully human. We have to own our hearts. That is the key to leadership.”

“What does our institution need from me right now and how prepared am I to deliver on that need? Informing our answer to that is: What does it feel like to be me? How much weight am I carrying? How does this show up in my work?”

“Are we prepared to honor the sacredness of those we interact with on a daily basis? We have to walk with purpose. We have to walk with lightness. We have to stay anchored to hope.”

Before he bid farewell and safe travels, Dr. Roper charged #NASPA18 attendees with the oft-repeated advice of his mentor Dr. Joseph White, whose passing was honored throughout the conference; looking us square in the eye: “Keep the faith.”

We would like to offer our deepest gratitude to all who attended, presented, and worked tirelessly to make #NASPA18 the incredible experience shared by over 8,000 SA pros.

Especially our 2018 NASPA Conference Committee:

…and our amazing #NASPA18 interns:

All that’s left to say is…

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