12 Mar 2024
12 Mar 2024

2024 ATS Student Personnel Administrators Conference

  • Price: $300.00


By registration; The 2024 Student Personnel Administrators' Network (SPAN) Conference is gathering under the theme Impact and Influence: How Student Personnel Professionals Shape Educational Experience. This year’s conference invites all those in student-focused roles to an exploration of the value and significance of our engagement with students outside the classroom, shaping not only their immediate experience of a school, but also the attitudes and experiences carried out of the academy and into the communities they desire to serve. Join recruiters, admissions directors, financial aid officers, counseling staff, career services personnel, housing directors, registrars, deans of students, and more from across the ATS membership for an exciting event filled with dynamic plenary sessions, panel discussions, and hands-on workshops designed to help you connect with peers and grow the skills you need for effective service in your institution and community. #ATSSPAN2024

Visit the conference site on Canvas



Tuesday, March 12

4:45 p.m.     
Registration Opens | Lyric Foyer

5:00 p.m.
Welcome Reception | Lyric Foyer

6:00 p.m.
Opening Dinner | Lyric Ballroom B & D

Wednesday, March 13    

8:00 a.m.     
Continental Breakfast | Lyric Ballroom B & D

8:45 a.m.     
Morning Reflection | Lyric Ballroom A & C
Allison Henderson-Brooks, Assistant Dean of Students, Candler School of Theology of Emory University

9:00 a.m.
Welcome and Introductions | Lyric Ballroom A & C
Michael Sandner, Chief Business Officer, HR Director; Title IX Officer, Hartford International University for Religion and Peace; Chair, SPAN Steering Committee
Deborah Shadd, Director of Leadership Development, The Association of Theological Schools

What’s Your Core WHY? | Lyric Ballroom A & C
Chris Meinzer, COO and Senior Director, The Association of Theological Schools

10:30 a.m.

11:00 a.m.
State of the Profession Conversations

 Dean of Students | Lyric Ballroom A & C
  Allison Henderson-Brooks, Assistant Dean of Students, Candler School of Theology of Emory University

 Registrars | McGavock
  Emil Canlas, Registrar, St. Mark's College

• Recruitment and Admissions | Edison II
  DeNeen Collins, Director of Recruiting and Admissions, Christian Theological Seminary

• Enrollment Management and Retention | Edison III
  Kristy McGarvey, Dean of Students, Denver Seminary

• Student Life and Formation Lyric Ballroom A & C
  Jeff Sajdak, Dean of Students; DMin Program Co-Director, Calvin Theological Seminary

• Student Services and Financial Aid Edison I & A 
 Michael Sandner, Chief Business Officer, HR Director & Title IX Officer, Hartford International University for Religion and Peace; Chair, SPAN Steering Committee

12:15 p.m.   
Lunch | Lyric Ballroom B & D

1:30 p.m.   
Workshop Session 1

2:45 p.m.     


3:15 p.m.     
Stories of Impact and Influence – A Panel Discussion | Lyric Ballroom A & C
SPAN Steering Committee

4:30 p.m.

6:00 p.m.
Dinner | Lyric Ballroom B & D

Thursday, March 14

8:00 a.m.
Continental Breakfast | Lyric Ballroom B & D

8:45 a.m.     
Morning Reflection | Lyric Ballroom A & C
Jeff Sajdak, Dean of Students; DMin Program Co-Director, Calvin Theological Seminary

9:00 a.m.     
Navigating and Discerning Our Way through Change 
| Lyric Ballroom A & C
Darlene Hutto, Founder, InnerACTS Consulting

10:15 a.m.     

10:45 a.m.   
Workshop Session 2

12:00 p.m.   
Lunch | Lyric Ballroom B & D

1:15 p.m.   
Workshop Session 3

2:30 p.m.
Closing Session | Lyric Ballroom A & C

3:00 p.m.

SESSION 1: Wednesday, March 13, 1:30 p.m.

Edison I & A
Grief and Trauma: One Seminary’s Approach to Building Policy and Process for Students in Crisis
Lori Current, Executive Director of Student Services, Bethany Theological Seminary
Karen Duhai, Director of Student Services, Bethany Theological Seminary
In the fall of 2022, Bethany Theological Seminary lost a student to suicide. In the wake of that tragedy and recognizing the rising tide of mental health challenges emerging in our students, we took a hard look at the policies and practices that we use to support and protect our community. This process involved not only revamping some of our current policies, but also building new policies from the ground up that focus both on caring for our students and on protecting and empowering our employees. In this presentation, we will discuss the process of working through these challenges and what we have learned along the way. We will also create space for attendees to share what challenges their schools are facing, and how they are addressing them.

Edison II
Student Services as Formation and Mentoring
Jeff Sajdak, Dean of Students, DMin Program Co-Director, Calvin Theological Seminary
The focus of this session will be on the formative work of student affairs professionals for the students they serve. Student affairs professionals are a relatively recent phenomenon in theological higher education, yet these professionals play a significant role in the character and spiritual formation of students through their work with students. Working from a formational/mentoring posture is inspiring and shapes this important work in positive ways that benefit students and the communities where they will serve. This workshop will:
• encourage student affairs professionals in their formative work with students,
• provide theory and practice of mentoring and formation that are applicable to student affairs work,
• provide examples of how various student affairs professionals can mentor students through their interactions with them, and
• provide opportunities for attendees to learn best practices from one another.

Edison III
Strategic Insights: Elevating Seminary Admissions and Enrollment Practices
Murry Evans, Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing, Pacific School of Religion
Keaton Andreas, Director of Admissions, Pacific School of Religion
Kimberly Griffith, Senior Admissions Counselor, Enrollment and Marketing Coordinator, Pacific School of Religion
Join us for a comprehensive exploration of seminary recruitment strategies. Tailored for seminary admissions personnel and offering a deep dive into the dynamic landscape of the admissions funnel and communication strategies, this session aims to empower seminary admissions and enrollment strategists with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the evolving field of theological education. Key topics will include:
• Optimizing Admissions Funnels—Uncover best practices for streamlining admissions processes, from initial inquiry to enrollment, ensuring a seamless journey for prospective students.
• Effective Communication Approaches—Delve into communication strategies that help you identify and understand your audience. From personalized outreach to targeted messaging, discover ways to build meaningful connections throughout the admissions process.
• Technology Integration—Harness technology to enhance admissions and enrollment efforts. From data analytics to online events, explore strategies to revolutionize the way seminaries engage with potential students.

[Roundtable Discussion]
SISs and Student Records: Experiences, Challenges and Best Practices
Emil Canlas, Registrar, St. Mark’s College
This workshop aims to provide an opportunity for the participants to learn from the experiences of other institutions in terms of the use and management of their Student Information System (SIS). Also, the participants will be invited to share the challenges they are confronted with their SIS and best practices in addressing these challenges.

SESSION 2: Thursday, March 14, 10:45 a.m.

Edison I & A
Cultivating Resilience
Jo Ann Reinowski, Director of Academic Services, George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University
How do some students overcome great hurdles to successfully complete their seminary education? How can we cultivate resilience in our students, not only to help them successfully complete their degrees but also be better prepared for ministry? What is our role as a seminary professional in supporting and nurturing a spirit of resilience, innovation, and bravery in our student body? In this session, participants will:
• examine case studies of resilience in seminary students,
• reflect upon factors within theological institutes that encourage or diminish resilience,
• explore the learned and innate characteristics of resilience, and
• be challenged to find new ways to cultivate resilience in your students!

Edison II
Start the Conversation: The Role of Youth Discern Programs in Seminary Recruitment
Matthew Wietfeldt, Assistant Vice President of Admissions; Director of Christ Academy, Concordia Theological Seminary (IN)
In 1999, Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne (CTSFW) began a youth vocational discern program called “Christ Academy." For 25 years, this program has been able to start the conversation about churchwork vocations with high school-aged students throughout the world. This presentation will talk about the basics of a youth vocational discernment program, the structure and goals for this type of program, and how one might prepare to begin this type of program. All of this will be done through the lens of the CTSFW Christ Academy High School, as it prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary this coming summer. Christ Academy has had more than 1,000 participants within its program, helping them discern through God’s call for their lives. There will also be time to share vocational discern stories and best practices.

Edison III
Start Putting Story to Work: Collaboratively Making Sense of Lived Experiences in Theological Education
Michael Hemenway, Director of Design and Data Science, ATS
This workshop will briefly introduce the process of participatory narrative inquiry and how it will be used in the ATS Putting Story to Work project, using stories to make sense of the value proposition of ATS to its members. With this background set, we will work through some collaborative activities to begin to co-design the story prompts and follow up questions that we will use to collect stories from members. Finally, we will brainstorm some possible methods for gathering stories.

[Roundtable Discussion]
Student Services and the Business Office: Interactions, Opportunities, and Working Together Well
Michael Sandner, Chief Business Officer; HR Director; Title IX Officer, Hartford International University for Religion and Peace; Chair, SPAN Steering Committee
Collaboration is key! Both of these departments need to work together to achieve the delicate balance between two huge goals: (1) a student body that is thriving during their educational journey and (2) a school that is financially stable and sustainable. The Business Office interplays with numerous departments at a theological school from housing to recruitment and enrollment services, and from student services to financial aid. How can we work together for a win-win situation?

SESSION 3: Thursday, March 14, 1:15 p.m.

Edison I & A
Ethics, Reasons, Implementation, and Use of AI in Graduate Enrollment and Admissions Practices
DeNeen Collins, Director of Recruiting and Admissions, Christian Theological Seminary
AI is a part of our lives and quickly interweaving its way into higher education departments, including the offices of recruiting and admissions (R&A). As AI expands, so will the need for R&A departments to understand their abilities to change work patterns, flows, and processes. This session explores the ethical application of AI, reasons professionals need to know what it is, and how to use AI in the graduate enrollment and admissions space. Join me in exploring what we need to know about AI!

Edison II
Understanding the Admission Department’s Vital Role in Accreditation Reaffirmation in ATS
Matthew Wietfeldt, Assistant Vice President of Admissions, Director of Christ Academy, Concordia Theological Seminary (IN)
Accreditation reaffirmation is a crucial process for ATS member schools, ensuring they meet the required standards for quality education. The Recruitment and Admission Department plays a pivotal role in this process, as it serves as the gateway for prospective students and embodies the institution's commitment to excellence. This presentation will offer helpful insights and guidance on the specific contributions of the Admission Department in accreditation reaffirmation—highlighting the indispensable role of the Recruitment and Admission Department in accreditation reaffirmation, underscoring its alignment with the ATS Standards, and emphasizing the continuous pursuit of excellence in education through collaborative efforts across departments. This presentation aims to empower Recruitment and Admission Department professionals with a deeper understanding of their roles in accreditation reaffirmation, equipping them to contribute effectively to institutional excellence and compliance with ATS Standards.

Edison III
[Roundtable Discussion]
Fostering Community in Hybrid and Multigenerational Student Bodies
Kristy McGarvey, Dean of Students, Denver Seminary
What do we do when on campus is no longer the main point of contact? What about a broad scope of demographics in our learning communities who need belonging? Join others in student life and engagement to discuss how you are fostering a sense of community and belonging in the changing landscape of the student experience. Because belonging has a foundational impact on retention and student satisfaction, the sharing of ideas and best practices will only enhance community life in this new reality of theological education.



Hutton Hotel
1808 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203


Darlene Hutto

View Bio

Darlene Hutto

Darlene Marie Hutto is the founder of InnerACTS Consulting where she provides facilitation, programmatic and strategic thinking, and design for organizations and institutional leaders. She most recently served as the director for experience design for the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) for the past 16 years, accompanying young adult leaders who were discerning call, meaning, and purpose. Currently working with FTE as a programmatic consultant, she has also accompanied partners and organizational leaders to build their leadership capacities in service to the young adult population. Hutto was ordained as an Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2005, and she has served as an associate pastor, youth pastor, and campus minister. Her life's work is birthed from her passion for personal, communal, and organizational transformation where she seeks to celebrate the gifts and experiences of all creation God's Kin-dom. Hutto earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and philosophy from Wilberforce University and a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology of Emory University, where she recently completed her Doctor of Ministry degree (Church Leadership and Community Witness).

Chris Meinzer

View Bio

Chris Meinzer

Chris A. Meinzer, senior director and COO for The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), is a CPA with more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Since joining the ATS staff in 1999, he has provided oversight of ATS financial and business affairs as well as the ATS institutional database—a repository of institutional, enrollment, personnel, financial, and development data provided by ATS members. Meinzer has done extensive analysis and research of this data and presented his findings in a variety of settings to administrators and boards of theological schools.

In addition, he has provided counsel to ATS member schools on issues of finances, organizational planning, and strategic thinking. Through discussions with theological schools and their leadership, Meinzer has encouraged reflection on intergenerational stewardship and its impact on both academics and economics within these schools. He has designed and implemented a revision of the ATS Strategic Information Report, a useful strategic tool that provides ATS member schools with peer and industry data on a variety of market fundamentals.

Meinzer holds an accounting degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.


Event Contact:
Saren Williams




Date & Time
Tue, Mar 12, 2024 , 4:45 p.m. CT
Thu, Mar 14, 2024 , 3:00 p.m. CT

Hutton Hotel | Nashville, TN

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