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AU Only Conference Certified University in DC

By Patrick Bradley

Hoover (right) with his team Medico and Martin in front of a residence hall with the award.

Hoover (right) with his team Medico and Martin. Photo by Patrick Bradley.

For Conference & Residential Services director Curtis Hoover, sometimes a certification confirms what’s already clear. Hoover heads the department that transforms AU into a haven for summer conference groups and interns who need a place to live, eat, and meet in Washington, DC.

AU recently received one-stop shop certification from ACCED-I, the Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International. It’s a distinction that, as the organization’s website notes, sets AU apart as an operation that “provides the most effective planning atmosphere to successfully stage a collegiate conference or event.”

While Hoover’s pleased with the label, it’s nothing new for him and his team; they host thousands of guests on campus each summer.

“It’s just going one step further,” he explains. “We were saying we’re a one-stop shop, but now we can say someone’s come in, checked us out, looked at our credentials, talked with some of our clients, and this national organization that does work in our field agrees that we are a one-stop shop. It just puts the backing of that association’s reputation behind us.”

As a one-stop shop, Hoover’s outfit handles everything from housing and meeting space reservations to dining, putting everything under one department with a single point of contact, one contract, and one bill for the client. With only 41 other colleges and universities across the nation certified by ACCED-1, Hoover points out that the experience found at AU is not too common.

In fact, AU is the only certified university in the Washington, DC, area.

“Most schools are not one-stop shops. Most have multiple people you have to deal with,” he explains. “If you’re bringing a small conference somewhere, it would be really inconvenient to have to talk to all these people and do different contracts for everything, whereas they just talk to us, we negotiate everything for them, and we give them one bill at the end.”

Various international and domestic conference groups, summer interns, camps, and retreats utilize AU’s one-stop shop every year – some have for many years. The National Student Leadership Conference has brought America’s future leaders to campus for the past 17 years, while the Cal Ripken Jr. Foundation is a client of just one year. Both, however, endorsed AU for its certification, showing AU’s quality experience for new and long-time clients alike.

Groups from as far away as Brazil and Australia have enjoyed AU’s numerous amenities, which include multifunctional meeting spaces, contemporary athletic facilities, delicious on-campus catering, and spacious accommodations just steps away from everything.

Beyond that, however, AU is simply unique as a quiet, tree lined space in the heart of the nation’s capital.

“If you’re looking to do a conference, a lot of times folks are more drawn to cities. So, the fact that we are in DC is certainly a draw. The fact that we’re in DC and have a traditional campus is also a draw,” Hoover says. “With that, we have things like parking that some of the other DC schools cannot offer.”

In the end, Hoover credits the certification to the hard work of his team, which currently includes conference and events coordinator Nancy Martin and off-campus and guest housing coordinator Christina Medico. Though the certification is great, he’s most proud of the streamlined experience they provide for groups each and every year.

 It’s the true mark of AU’s service, and the fact that they accomplish it all with just a few dedicated staff makes it all the more meaningful.

“We do a lot of work as a really small team. That’s something we’re proud of,” he says. “We work on renting out facilities for the entire campus and running that process during the summer as a team of four. When you think about how many people run that process during the academic year and then it’s just down to us, that’s pretty significant.”