Miami hosts international conference on education

The Armstrong Student Center at the University of Miami opened its doors to educators around the world from November 18-20 for the 40th Annual Lilly Conference, an event for faculty and others in higher education careers to share their learning research.

The Miami Lilly Lecture, dubbed the original Lilly Lecture, began as a three-year program funded by the Lilly Pharmaceutical Company in 1979 to support early career faculty. The original program included six universities, but as funding ended in 1981, faculty in Miami requested an extended endowment to expand the conference.

Milton Cox, founder and director emeritus of the Original Lilly Conference, said the company did not have the funds to continue supporting the program but allowed Miami to host the annual conference under the same name.

“Our first conference was at the Shriver Center,” Cox said. “There were maybe a couple of people from Ball State and Bowling Green who came over, and the rest were professors from Miami.”

The following year, the Marcum Center had completed construction, and the Lilly Conference welcomed 35 professors from other campuses.

Since then, the conference has grown internationally, welcoming educators from Canada, England and Australia. The conference has also branched out to host events in other locations including San Diego, Austin, Texas, Asheville, North Carolina and even Hong Kong.

Cox said he hasn’t missed a conference since its inception.

“I’ve been to hundreds,” Cox said. “It’s really important for me to keep the connection with Miami, the original conference and all the other conferences. “

This year, 275 educators attended the conference, including one from Nigeria.

Lilly Conference attendees spend three days listening to lectures, learning about new higher education publications, and presenting their own research and findings about teaching in college classrooms.

On Friday evening, several dozen faculty members gathered in the Fritz Pavilion to learn about their mutual experiences in higher education and how to implement new techniques in their own teaching.

Professors Tracy Parson and Cheryl Shultz traveled to Oxford from Lorain County Community College in Ohio to present their findings on the impact of virtual education during the pandemic on nursing students.

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“We presented our work to our college last August for our faculty development days, and one of our colleagues encouraged us to bring it here to the Lilly Conference,” Parson said.

Shultz said that in addition to providing lots of food, from salads to chocolate bars, the conference was also a good way to network with other educators from different disciplines and schools.

“We got to sit down with a lot of nice people,” said Shultz. “It was good because the number of people you speak with is diverse. “

Lamia Scherzinger, senior lecturer at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said she heard about the conference when she was working in Miami in 2015. As an online educator, her experience was relevant. . She presented how different types of learners work in online environments.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 – guests were expected to adhere to Miami’s mask policy and international involvement was down from previous years – Scherzinger said his experience was still positive.

“It was one of the best conferences I have attended,” Scherzinger said. “The topics were very timely, very engaging and the presenters were very passionate as teachers and educators, not just as researchers. “

The conference wasn’t all business, however. Gregg Wentzell, director of the Lilly conference, said the three-day affair included several events beyond lectures and presentations, including a trivia night in the Red Zone and live entertainment in the Shade Family Room. .

“We have… all kinds of categories, from higher education to science to a potpourri category, which is a lot of fun,” Wentzell said. “It creates a good bond, a little friendly competition. We also have musical entertainment by people from Lilly.

Even with fun and games, the goal of the Lilly Conference remains the same as it was 40 years ago: to encourage interdisciplinary learning among faculty members so that they can provide a better education to their students.

“People don’t just sit and listen to come and speak,” Wentzell said. “It’s much more of an active learning approach to sessions. They will present the research… then they will engage participants in different types of activities and discussions.

For Megan Mefford, a College of Pharmacy attendee at Ohio State University, interacting with a range of faculty experts at the Lilly Conference paid off.

“I mainly focused on science, so these are very scientific lectures, and you hear really interesting lectures, but it’s not something you can apply,” Mefford said. “[These are] immediately applicable things that you can go back and implement tomorrow. This is the most useful conference I have ever attended.

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