by Dr. Jeff Cropsey
CCME Immediate Past President
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Grantham University
The 2016 Council of College and Military Educators (CCME) Symposium concluded on 19 February in San Antonio. Texas. The symposium theme this year was, "Opening doors. Advancing lives. A military member's and veteran's pathway to education and career success." The conference attracted about 900 attendees, up almost 30% from 2015, and was one of the most successful CCME Conferences in the last 6 years. A great deal of the credit for the success goes to the members of the CCME Board and the conference support team from Grantham University.
This year several innovations were used to attract more attendees. For the first time mass e-mailings were made to all of the 22600 plus Department of Defense (DoD) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) schools. Advertisements were also placed in several publications aimed at the higher education community and especially schools interested in serving the military and or veterans education needs. The net result was an increase of almost 200 registrations over the conference last year in Anaheim. Most significantly the conference this year attracted many first time attendees. The Tuesday morning Newcomers Breakfast almost doubled in size to over 200 individuals indicating this was their first CCME conference. Without a doubt the renewed interest in education programs for the military. Additionally with over 60 exhibitors and 40 plus sponsors CCME received strong support from the higher education community to make the conference a great success!
However what really made the 2016 CCME Symposium a success was the keynote addresses, the concurrent sessions and the special events throughout the week of 15 -19 February. During the Symposium many notable speakers from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the higher education community supported our theme of supporting military and veterans through education programs. CCME remains the only national organization devoted to promoting military and veteran education and constantly works to expand those opportunities.
First of all this year's venue was perfect for the conference. The Marriott Rivercenter Hotel in San Antonio was an ideal location. All of the meetings and major events were conveniently situated on one floor. It was hard to get lost! The service and food were impeccable and with the hotel located directly by the famous San Antonio River Walk, hundreds of restaurants and cafes were an easy walk away. The hotel also provided many opportunities for networking with CCME sponsored receptions along with several receptions sponsored by CCME member institutions.
Prior to and during the symposium the branches of the Armed Services sponsored workshops for their members along with the Servicemembers Opportunity College and the American Council of Education. All of these meetings were well attended and in several cases extra sessions were required to take care of all of the individuals interested in participating.
CCME was extremely fortunate this year to have topnotch speakers from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. Representing the DVA were the Honorable Curtis L. Coy, Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity and Mr. Robert M. Worley II, Director of Education Service. From the Department of Defense we heard from, Brigadier General Robert J. Miller, Director Education and Training, Defense Health Agency and Commandant, Medical Education and Training Campus; Ms. Dawn Bilodeau, Chief, Department of Defense Voluntary Education Programs; Brigadier General John S. Kem, Provost Army University and Deputy Commandant, Command and General Staff College, Mr. J.R. Breeding, Associate Dean of Academic Programs for the Community College of the Air Force; and Sergeant Major of the Army, Daniel A. Dailey. In all cases these outstanding speakers challenged the higher education community o redouble their efforts to serve our military and veterans. Specifically they all called for renewed efforts to evaluate military training for appropriate college level credit and to provide programs that will support military members in their service careers and when they return to civilian life. I do not believe any attendee left the symposium without a renewed interest in serving our military and veteran students.
So without a doubt the 2016 CCME Symposium in San Antonio, Texas was an unqualified success! The 2017 Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis March 6-9, 2017, led by our CCME President Franc Lopez promises to be even bigger and better.
Note from Franc Lopez, CCME President: CCME thanks Dr. Jeff Cropsey, CCME Immediate Past President, and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Grantham University, for his review of the recent CCME 2016 Symposium. For more information about our organization, please visit CCMEonline.org.