Campus events group helps members plan to have a plan
The Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies hosts hundreds of events each year in its Amphitheatre, Assembly Hall and assorted meeting rooms. So, no doubt Event Liaison and Facilities Coordinator Susan Campos has just about seen it all while helping others across campus pull off successful lectures, receptions, symposia, etc.
Even after witnessing the successes and failures of campus planners she's worked with, however, Campos says she learned a great deal recently while serving on the organizing committee of an educational retreat for the University Event Planners (UEP), which she co-chairs. The retreat attracted more than 100 participants to learn about a variety of topics, including saving on food and beverages, project management, cross-cultural communications, efficient registration and floral presentations.
"I had never planned a conference before," she says of the daylong event held June 10 at the Dale Fisher Gallery in Grass Lake, Mich. "You don't think about making sure your speakers know where to go or where to park, or even what you want them to talk about. I learned a lot planning this retreat."
Information sharing about planning successful events is just one of the goals of UEP, which serves as a networking forum for members of the campus community charged with staging events. The group's mission also includes promoting professionalism and recognition within the University community; and developing and strengthening relations between U-M and the community at large.
Sometimes, it can be a career-saver, too.
Laurie Stoianowski, a development officer for the School of Education (SoE) who co-chairs UEP with Campos, planned an event several years ago during which the person charged with ordering food forgot to place the order.
"I jumped on the phone to one of our caterers and 20 minutes later I had a veggie tray, cheese and crackers, etc.," she says.
Stoianowski says she recently used her 200 plus-person e-mail list of UEP members to find special flowers for a going-away celebration in honor of SoE Dean Karen Wixson, who will step down from her position June 30.
"I wanted some awesome flowers to thank Dean Wixson for her service to the University, so I sent a message to our UEP members," she recalls. "Within minutes, I had 10-15 names. I tried one and they were fabulous."
Campos says the group, which conducts informational sessions during the academic year, can help many people on campus, from professional planners to those with job duties that include setting up an occasional event.
UEP membership is open to anyone interested or involved in event planning, as well as community members from the hospitality industry.
"Planning an event should be easycall a hotel and arrange some rooms. But it's not always that easy," Campos says. "You have to have a good network and know whom to call about what."
UEP hosts an annual vendor showcase at Washtenaw Community College. Campos says establishing relationships with vendors and others in the hospitality industry is key to successful event planning.
"They are really great about sharing information," she says. "It helps them to know what we are looking for, and it helps us to know what they need from us."
Campos says UEP is changing for 2005-06. The group hopes to write a constitution, elect officers and plan next year's agenda. She says much of the organization's programming comes from member requests. The first meeting of 2004-05 was titled, "Things I learned the Hard Way."
"With exposing people to different vendors and ways to do things, hopefully we can save some costly mistakes," Campos says. "That is important during tight budget times."
To join UEP or for more information, visit: http://www.umich.edu/~uep.