Aside from my usual disagreements with the lavishness of the arrangements, I had a wonderful time at this year's National Collegiate Honors Society meeting. I helped lead two sessions (one of which I think was quite valuable to the audience, the other of which was more valuable to the presenters), and was called upon to participate in two more for which I had relevant expertise. I attended two business meetings and served as a consultant to a half-dozen members looking for a way to make their programs better. It was one of the more valuable three-day conference stretches of my professional career, in terms experience shared and gained per unit of time spent.
Next year the meeting is in Phoenix, Arizona, and right at this point it looks like a tough sell. The sentiment for boycotting conventions in Arizona over their immigration law is still active, for one thing. National meetings in western states always do more poorly, for another, a fact I've learned over my time with the American Academy of Religion; the bulk of the membership is on or near the east coast, and the time and expense involved in making the longer trip reliably depress attendance.
I know that the 2011 conference planner, Greg Lanier of the University of West Florida, has some innovative and bold ideas to make the meeting attractive yet responsible. And hey, I'm looking forward to the single-hop Southwest flight from my home airport as much as anything. So I'm hoping that the Phoenix meeting exceeds expectations and sets a new standard for the organization. It would be nice if we could take this crisis of a meeting with two strikes against it and turn it into an opportunity to rethink the whole national convention paradigm for NCHC, wouldn't it?