March 2013

Print this page ›

March 2013

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Always Making Improvements

Ideas for programming, sessions, or displays that spark conversation and learning are always welcome.

Photo/USITT Archive

March brings my third conference as Executive Director and 12th overall. That’s still relatively few compared to some of our members, but not an insignificant amount either.

As Executive Director, I hear lots of comments about the Conference, both good and bad. They come both solicited and unsolicited. They are often completely opposite opinions on the same topic, but all are heard and many lead to action.

USITT is proud that we have a wide range of members. Some segments are more vocal than others, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t aware of the need to program for each. Yes, there is only so much that can be offered in each Conference day. The physics of time and space restrict us, but it means we must be more cautious stewards of what we program.

One topic that comes up each year is programming. The most common is “Why do you schedule all of the good sessions at the exact same time?” I will say that it takes great conspiracy and plotting to do so. It is a remarkable feat to accomplish this for every attendee, but we have an entire team of volunteers and staff that adjusts the programming algorithm to insure everyone’s favorite topics are programmed against each other. There -- it has now been admitted.

The real tough ones are the people who tell me they don’t come to our Conference because of the programming. One recent e-mail noted, “USITT is so heavily geared toward the academic world and not those of us who work in non-academic settings. A majority of the sessions at USITT have something to do with primarily teaching at the college level.” When I look at our programming, I can’t wholly disagree.

Our Institute is one with a diverse membership, so our programming must work harder to reflect that range of interest and levels. This topic is being discussed by the Board and Conference leadership, but that conversation must extend beyond just the leadership. We hear a broad spectrum of membership calling for programming that is relevant to all segments of our community. We work on that throughout the year, but the Annual Conference, our cornerstone event, must highlight it.

We are making changes to the way we create programs, to the timeline for creating and presenting sessions, and to the funding needed to create a quality experience for all. It can’t be done in a void. You, the member, must assist. Suggest topics that you want to hear about and presenters who excite you. Each Commission has a Vice-Commissioner for Programming; reach out to yours. Or send ideas to the staff; we’ll pass them on.

We can and will do better with the quality and level of our discussions. On the USITT website you can search our Conference sessions this year by “ability level.” Each session has been labeled with a focus audience. Some topics are for everyone, but some aren’t. To let us know how we’re doing, you can rate each session via the Conference app once you attend. With this information, we can follow through with offerings best suited to the needs of our attendees.

We are finding ways to provide programming at all levels year-round, but the Conference should be the place where we spotlight the best of our knowledge for everyone. It only takes a tap or three to provide session feedback to us via the app this year. Let your voice be heard. What topics should we address in the future and at what ability level? It is your Institute; raise your voice and help us make it more helpful and relevant to you at every stage of your career.

David Grindle

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail David at
Follow me on Twitter — #USITTExec