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Oklahoma City in the Rear View Mirror – 2015 Conference Recap

Wednesday, December 16, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Steve Schmidt and Leslie Cordie
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The 64th Annual AAACE Conference is now history, and what a conference it was!  Over 350 adult educators from around the world gathered at the Oklahoma City Convention Center from November 17-20 for the conference, which featured a great variety of keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, roundtable discussions, poster sessions, and opportunities for networking and fellowship. The conference theme, Evolutions and Revolutions in Adult Learning, was evident in many different activities held throughout the week.

Before the official start of the conference, several organizations got together for pre-conference meetings. This year, the 34th annual Research to Practice (R2P) conference was held as an AAACE pre-conference as a new method for building collaboration and networking for adult educators. The R2P in Adult and Higher Education was hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma Outreach at the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame on the Campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK.

The 2015 Commission for International Adult Education (CIAE) also held a pre-conference in the days preceding the AAACE conference.  CIAE commenced on Sunday, November 15th at the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. The highlight of the evening’s reception included welcome speeches, introductions, and community building. The pre-conference continued through Tuesday with participants and presentations from Australia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Kosovo, Nigeria, North and South Korea, and the United States. Several Hall of Famers, past Presidents - including the ageless Alexander Charters - also attended and added to the wealth and diversity of the 2015 CIAE.

The 2015 AAACE conference started on an exciting note on Tuesday, November 17th, with Mayor Mick Cornett's Native American dancers welcoming us to Oklahoma City. The first keynote speaker, Dr. Steve Gillion, Scholar-in-Residence at The History Channel and Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma, talked about his educational journey and shared stories of his experiences teaching history; including one in which he delivered a lecture about the John F. Kennedy assassination to a group of students that included John F. Kennedy, Jr. The first day of AAACE ended with a fantastic President’s Reception, including delightful appetizers and wonderful music provided by a local jazz group.

On Wednesday morning, November 18th, keynote Dr. Katarina Popović, the new Secretary General of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), and a Member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame, gave a stirring keynote highlighting both personal and professional  examples of how adult educators can become positive agents of change and progress in society.

Holding the AAACE conference in Oklahoma City this year gave us an opportunity to partner again with the International Adult Education Hall of Fame. On Wednesday evening, the AAACE conference hosted the Hall of Fame induction of 25 new adult educators from around the world. The induction ceremony was open to all conference attendees, and it was truly inspiring to hear about all the great work these educators have done now and in the past.

At the annual awards luncheon, held on the Thursday of the conference, awards were presented to Dr. Jim Pappas (President’s Award for Exceptional and Innovative Leadership); Dr. Carlos Torres (Cyril Houle Award for Outstanding Literature); Indiana State University’s B.S. Degree in Adult and Career Education (Malcolm Knowles award) and Drs. Eric Platt and Lilian Hill (Imogene Okes Award for Outstanding Research).  A lifetime service award was presented to Cle Anderson in honor of her years of service to AAACE, as well. 

The Commission of Professors of Adult Education (CPAE) held their annual co-conference on the Thursday and Friday of the AAACE conference, as well.  At the onset of the general session, Drs. Alan Knox, Simone Conceicao, Larry Martin and Tom Sork shared information about a newly launched international compendium of adult and continuing education. This exciting project hopes to encourage hundreds of scholars and practitioners from various countries and parts of the field to map the knowledge base of the field.

On the final day of the conference, Dr. Michael Fire, keynote speaker, shared his life story as a Cheyenne and Arapaho Elder, father, and health care professional.  He shared the internal and external motivating factors required for educational success growing up as a Native American and provided us with lessons learned for our own work with adult learners.

At the beginning of the business luncheon, President Jean Fleming awarded the AAACE President Award to the entire Board of Directors in recognition of their hard work during this year of professionalization and expansion for the association. With that note, Dr. Fleming passed the ‘gavel’ to Dr. Margaret Eggleston as the new AAACE President, who welcomed the 2016 AAACE Board. The conference concluded with the annual business meeting, where a special note of thanks was given to Amanda Cribbs, our local contact in Oklahoma City.

We look forward to you joining us for the 2016 AAACE Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico where we'll be “Celebrating the Rich Landscape of Adult Learning,” November 8-11, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque.