Meet-Up in the Midwest: Highlights From CampusConnect West

Author: Natalie Schwarz

In Brief:

  • We held our second regional conference of the year, CampusConnect West, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

  • Sessions focused on the future of higher ed, product strategy, retention tactics, and data security, followed by a fun night out at Lakefront Brewery.

Blog Post

In mid-July we held our second regional conference, CampusConnect West, in person at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This gathering included educational professionals from across the Midwest, with representatives from 12 different schools. The attendees of this free event were given the opportunity to share valuable insights, engage in discussions about achieving success in higher education, and establish significant connections. This overview of the conference focuses on important sessions and memorable moments.

Representing the Midwest

Our regional conference brought together 19 attendees from 12 institutions across the Midwest. Some of the institutions represented were: Brazosport College, Fox Valley Technical College, Henry Ford College, Mercer University, North Dakota University System, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The diverse range of institutions ensured a wealth of perspectives and experiences.

The Future of Higher Education

Jackie Strohbehn, President, Nelnet Campus Commerce, presented on how Nelnet partners with institutions across the country and what the future looks like for higher education in terms of trends. This great discussion led to those in the room opening up about what trends they were seeing on their campuses. Common themes included: reduced budgets, handling more of the student support with less staff, and an emphasis on supporting students’ mental health.

Product Strategy – Sponsor Billing and Payments

During the conference, Brittany Hubbard, Director of Product Strategy, gave a presentation on Sponsor Billing and Payments. Our Sponsor Billing and Payments solution provides a self-service system for tuition sponsors to view their account status and billing statements, as well as make payments with various payment methods all online. This session received valuable feedback and interest from institutional leaders who were present and will help craft future updates and features for this product.

Interactive Client Panel Discussion

This panel was led by three participating Midwest institutions: Henry Ford College, North Dakota University System, and University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and served as an open forum for everyone to share effective practices, exchange thoughts, and ask questions. Topics included: withholding transcripts, advancing student engagement, training and support, working with IT, alternative revenue streams, and more. Attendees left with a broader perspective on problem-solving strategies, armed with potential solutions to explore further at their own institutions.

Retention Strategies and Insuring Student Success

One of the workshops we hosted was on strategies to improve student retention led by Jen McMahon, Vice President and Senior Consultant with Ruffalo Noeel Levitz, LLC (RNL) and Virgil Lloyd, Senior Business Development Executive, Midwest and Pacific. This workshop had everyone break into small groups to discuss such topics as: the student lifecycle, what the business offices need more/less of to better focus on students, accurate reporting, and efficiencies in their offices.

Following this workshop, was a session presented by Jenna Kovacic, Director- Business Development, GradGuard. She shared with conference attendees how student insurance is valuable to retention. If institutions are using Nelnet Payment Plans, additional insurance is a no-cost add-on which helps to ensure students tuition costs are covered in case of accidents, illnesses, and unforeseen events in their lives. Since higher education is such a big investment, this insurance helps to retain students as it gives them a peace of mind that tuition is covered or reimbursed if they can’t attend school due to a major event.

Payment Security & Data Compliance

This informative session revolved around data security and information compliance for higher education institutions. Erik Brown, IT Director – Cybersecurity, shared some scenarios that business offices can run through with their teams to ensure that data compliance and security is top of mind. Scenarios included: how to spot a phishing scam, what to do if you think you’ve been hacked, and what to do if there is a data breach. Additionally, this session shed light on the critical nature of cybersecurity in the academic environment as higher education institutions are prime targets for cyber-attacks.

A Night Out in Milwaukee

In addition to the enriching sessions, the conference offered a night out in Milwaukee! Participants took some time to relax and connect with peers over dinner, a beer tasting, and a private brewery tour of Lakefront Brewery – a city landmark on the Milwaukee River.

Thank You to our Host and Partner

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for their gracious hospitality in hosting our conference. We would also like to acknowledge our ongoing partnership with GradGuard, whose support and collaboration made CampusConnect West possible. Without these contributions, this enriching experience held in the Midwest would not have come to fruition.

Save the Date

Mark your calendars for the 2023 CampusConnect Virtual Conference! Join us online, October 17-19, for our largest conference of the year where our clients, partners, and associates meet to find solutions, ask questions, share knowledge, and connect with higher ed professionals from across the country. And best of all, it’s FREE! Registration is now open!

Natalie Schwarz
Author: Natalie Schwarz

Natalie Schwarz is a former Content Marketing Writer for Nelnet Campus Commerce. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing and has over a decade of professional writing experience.

View all posts by Natalie Schwarz