CUWFA 2020 Call for Proposals

The Future of Work-Life: Leveraging our role in an evolving higher education landscape

About the Theme

We embark on this 2020 conference with eyes toward the future.  As the field of Work-Life evolves and the landscape of higher education shifts, what opportunities lie ahead?  What will our university workplaces look like in 2040 and beyond? How do we ensure that Work-Life continues to inform and support the future as a trusted partner?

This conference is part of a unique partnership with the Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN).  CUWFA 2020 will encompass one day (June 23rd) devoted to our members and one day of collaboration with WFRN (June 24th).  The goal of the collaborative day is to discover, discuss and inform our areas of common work -- from both practitioner and researcher points-of-view.  More information on this partnership will be available in the forthcoming registration materials.

Please note that this RFP is for Day One (the all-CUWFA day) only.

Conference Streams

The following streams are designed to help stimulate creative thinking about ways to bridge the gap between inspiration and practice. They are written to provide a starting point for ideas and to invite you to submit a proposal, rather than to exclude or narrow the scope of this conference. If you are unsure of whether or not to submit a proposal, please feel free to contact Program Committee member, Michele Vancour at [email protected], to discuss your ideas. 

  1. Technology
    Technology has reshaped the ways in which we all work. How are the needs and expectations of our higher ed communities changing as technology advances and its advantages as well as disadvantages become thoroughly woven into our daily work lives? As we look toward the future, we must explore opportunities to leverage technology in support of the development and delivery of Work-Life programs, benefits, and policies. We must also consider the implications of this technological shift on: our ability to create deeper connections in our communities, how the cultures of our universities are impacted; and the ability for people to disconnect from their work lives at the end of the day.

    We encourage you to consider this stream either in relation to specific Work-Life programs (workplace flexibility, child care, adult/elder care, dual career, well-being, phased retirement, etc.), or to reflect on the broader implications of the growing use of technology in our academic communities.

  2. Well-Being
    Colleges and universities are increasingly viewing Work-Life as a key part of their populations’ overall, holistic well-being. Many CUWFA member offices are addressing this shift, both explicitly and implicitly. Such a shift raises a number of questions for Work-Life practitioners including:

    How does a focus on well-being affect what we do and how we present ourselves? What are some of the challenges and benefits? And how does this shift affect how Work-Life is viewed when it comes to staff, faculty and student engagement and retention strategies?
    • What kinds of partnerships can we leverage as we contextualize our work within this space?
    • How do the specific cultures at our various institutions determine the relationship between Work-Life and well-being?
    • How does this approach speak to generational differences?
    We welcome proposals for interactive sessions addressing the questions above or other ways members have incorporated well-being into their work and partnerships. For the purpose of this stream, we define well-being as encompassing the following dimensions:  Physical;  Psychological (emotional health, depression, anxiety, stress, etc.); Social; Intellectual; Environmental; Spiritual; Vocational; and Financial.

  3. Aging/Retirement
    Age can be seen as both an asset and a liability. How can we structure workplace policies and practices to support all workers? With the aging of Baby Boomers and so many different generations in the workplace, what unique challenges are colleges and universities facing?  What programs and policies can best support those contemplating retirement so that it is a conscious choice that benefits both the individual and the employer?

    This encompasses topics such as: aging in the workplace, helping employees feel that aging is an asset, not a liability - connecting this to role changes for workers over time, recognizing that employees might be caring for several generations but wanting to maintain viability at work, the need for workplaces to plan for longer employee work lives, confronting ageism in the workplace and what to do about it and planning for retirement and staying engaged in the workplace community.

  4. Strategy, Policy & Practice
    While faculty and student recruitment and retention are driving the current climate and shaping the culture on many campuses, similar efforts aimed at college and university employees are an essential, yet often understated priority. It is evident that a highly qualified and competent workforce makes the difference in whether or not students enroll or stay at institutions in a market with endless academic options and whether new faculty members choose our universities over others. While we have always been concerned about recruitment and retention of both students and faculty, the pressure around the declining number of high school students calls for creative problem-solving. This is complicated by college and university closures, free tuition at some community colleges, an influx of new competing degree programs, and threats of budget cuts and layoffs. How are campuses bracing for these challenges or more importantly, how can Work-Life professionals aid in the development and implementation of strategic initiatives to prepare their campuses to overcome these challenges?

    Topics may address: evolving diversity and inclusion efforts, helping others to see opportunities amid change, using strategic planning efforts to move from intention to action, recognizing the power of shared responsibility for improved outcomes across campus, learning how to recognize the role of timing in change, increasing benefits and visibility of caregivers, realizing our capacity for influence by using data, and finding the balance between research, policy and practice.

  5. Leadership Styles that Expand Impact
    Strong and thoughtful leaders are essential to meeting the emerging demands in higher education. Work-Life professionals may be well-positioned to assume leadership roles since their positions and experience likely involve innovation, creative problem solving, consensus building, conflict resolution and strategic planning. How can potential leaders be developed to meet the needs of the changing higher education landscape? Considering best practices for succession, encouraging opportunities for collaboration and partnership, and developing a supportive network that recognizes and inspires leadership transitions can result in an effective plan for academic advancement.

    We encourage topics that support: making leadership transition decisions, understanding the role of leaders in influencing the changing landscape of higher education, evolving as a practitioner and a leader, recognizing strengths and leadership potential, leveraging networks to support career changes, how to be part of important conversations and aware of need-to-know information.

Presentation Guidelines

We are looking for:

  • Up to six 45-60 minute presentations
  • Facilitators for themed table discussions

Successful presentations will address innovative developments, best practices, and the skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary to enable Work-Life professionals to integrate their programs into higher education to help lead and grow organizations that are vital, dynamic and responsive.

Collaborations across institutions are highly encouraged and vendors are required to submit joint proposals with a CUWFA member organization.  Work-Life practitioners, researchers, human resource professionals, women’s commissions, faculty, staff and students are welcome to submit proposals.  Sessions will be held on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.


  • Clarity and coherence of submission
  • Relevance and usefulness to the intended audience, e.g.:
    • Specific practical sessions (e.g., problem-solving, implementation, etc.)
    • Research-based/data-driven sessions
  • Presentation approach and level of participant engagement in the session
  • Contribution to scholarship and research and/or new innovative practice(s) in the Work-Life arena
  • Relevance to the conference theme (a literal/linear connection is not required)
  • Overall quality of proposal
  • Extent to which proposal captures emerging trends in research and practice
  • Extent to which process, project, or innovation can be replicated or modified by other post-secondary institutions

Please understand that because of our limited time together and our goal of providing a diversity of thoughtful sessions, a proposal may satisfy conference criteria, but it may not be selected due to the limited number of scheduled workshops.

Submit your proposal by email to Michele Vancour at [email protected] by January 27, 2020.

Conference proposals will consist of three parts:

  1. A short session title
  2. An abstract that includes session goals (between 250-350 words)
  3. Presenter bios (100 words per person)

Your proposal should be clear and concise.  Reviewers will look favorably upon proposals that:

  • Offer theories, research findings, practical models, and/or strategies that reflect one of the conference theme/subthemes and have proven effective
  • Are innovative and interactive, and
  • Identify the intended audience and goals for the session (including what attendees will gain from going to the session).

Generously hosted by
NYU Work Life  alt