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Conference Planning

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  • What We Do: Plan and support development and implementation of educational events
  • Credits: We can help you procure CEUs for events we facilitate
  • Costs: Quoted based on services requested

Do you need to plan an educational program, conference, or event but don't have the time or resources to do it effectively? Do you need help with the countless tasks involved in planning, organizing, and implementing an event? If so, you're not alone.

Why not consider working with College experts? Our knowledgeable staff are skilled at planning and implementing conferences and events in a University environment. We've managed hundreds of events at University of Minnesota facilities and local, statewide, regional, national, and international locations.

Do you just need help with a particular aspect of your conference or event? The College offers a full range of services to help you plan a successful educational program or event.

We have experience managing:

  • academic national and international association conferences
  • grant-funded programs
  • research dissemination efforts
  • interdisciplinary programs

We are skilled in working with numerous program formats, including:

  • conferences
  • symposia
  • seminars and workshops
  • colloquia
  • short courses

Planning and Logistics

Does the thought of planning a large program or event seem overwhelming? Do you want to streamline your efforts to ensure that your event runs smoothly? Or maybe you're concerned about controlling costs?

The College offers program and event planning services from start to finish, saving you time and money. We have the experience, resources, staff, and industry contacts to:

  • recruit, schedule, and manage planning committee meetings
  • develop an educational design to fit your needs and objectives
  • prepare timelines and assign responsibilities
  • recruit speakers and coordinate contracts, travel, and other arrangements
  • prepare honoraria and travel expense reimbursements
  • evaluate program sites and negotiate contracts
  • manage hotel and dormitory needs
  • arrange transportation
  • identify potential sponsors
  • finalize program details (e.g., field trips, tours, and other social activities)
  • manage the production of materials, abstracts, and proceedings
  • manage on-site activities
  • coordinate and manage exhibit and poster sessions
  • plan meals, refreshments, and receptions, and determine final guarantees for food providers
  • design and manage the program evaluation
  • secure professional certification credits
  • arrange for University of Minnesota Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

Marketing and Promotion

Showcase your event to attract your target audience by using our highly experienced team of professional marketing specialists, copywriters, and designers.

Marketing Services Available

Our experienced marketing staff will work with you to:

  • determine the best marketing strategy for promoting your program
    • brochures, postcards, calls for presentations, email blasts, websites, etc.
  • develop a promotion timeline and monitor results to ensure target attendance goals
  • create a distinctive "event brand" with solid copy, creative logos, and eye-catching graphics
  • develop and manage mailing lists and databases and coordinate mailing services
  • coordinate the collection, reproduction, and distribution of materials
    • handouts, final programs, abstract books, proceedings, and CDs
  • serve as the point of contact for potential attendees
  • design and manage an event website

Event Website Options

You have the option to create a single, easy-to-maintain webpage or a full-fledged program website for your event, complete with video, slideshows, and more. Choose from the following options:

  • Single standardized webpage (for online registration):
    • Single page on College website
    • Page contains a link to online registration and limited description of program
  • Single customizable webpage:
    • Features personalized page header with program name
    • Content includes logos, course descriptions, PDF documents, a link to online registration, and additional links and enhancements, if needed
  • Multiple-page website:
    • Includes navigation links and personalized page header with conference name
    • Pages may also contain logos, links to online registration, course descriptions, and content information

Financial Management

Controlling finances for your program or event is critical to success. That's why the College offers budgeting and accounting services to help keep your event on track and to meet your financial goals.

Conference Budgeting

The experts at the College can help you develop a realistic, comprehensive budget plan that includes:

  • a market analysis of similar events
  • expenses
    • direct (marketing, facilities, printing, course materials, postage, honoraria, food, etc.)
    • indirect (program planning, administrative staff time)
  • revenue opportunities
    • registration fees, exhibitor fees, and sponsorships


Let us be your accounting service by helping you:

  • establish an account in the University system
  • negotiate and process contracts
  • process payments for internal and external invoices
  • manage, monitor, collect, and track income and expenses according to University auditor requirements
  • prepare the final budget summary

Web Services

The College offers a number of cutting-edge, web-based capabilities and tools to help you:

  • save time and money
  • simplify compilation of information
  • share your program with people who can't attend
  • get your course online
  • coordinate the efforts of your planning team
  • collect and share information

Abstract/Paper Collection

Do you want to save time and money by collecting abstracts, papers, and contact information on a website customized for your program? The College uses an abstract/paper collection tool that is stored in an easy-to-navigate online database and features:

  • Automatically generated email confirmations to individuals following the successful submission of an abstract
  • Blind review capabilities
  • Ability to customize presentation requirements, such as:
    • Topic areas
    • Presentation durations
    • Presentation methods
    • Equipment needs
    • Review criteria
  • Electronic review and compilation of reviewers' responses
  • A link to online event registration
  • Reporting tools to simplify compilation of information for an abstract or proceedings book, CD-ROM, or website

Web Conferencing Tools

Looking for ways to share your program with individuals unable to attend? The College can offer a variety of Web conferencing or blended options to meet your needs, including:

  • live streaming video of your conference online for attendees at a remote location
  • video capture and PowerPoint integration
    • create an online document that combines video of your presentation integrated with your PowerPoint, accessible online shortly after the conference
  • audio and video capture

Online Course Development Tools

Get your course online using:

  • instructional design for effective online learning
  • course site development using Moodle
  • multimedia elements (e.g., Flash animation, learning objects, audio and video elements, recorded presentations)
  • copy editing of course content
  • copyright research and permissions
  • pilot testing and proofreading


When it comes to event registration, you can leave the details to us. Our staff of experienced planners will:

  • design and develop registration forms
  • provide a secure server for online registration
  • process registration billing and payments including
    • credit card
    • purchase Order
    • University of Minnesota EFS number
    • check
  • link your website to online registration
  • process online, fax, and mail registrations
  • respond to phone or email inquiries
  • send registration confirmations via mail or email
  • process cancellations
  • provide up-to-date registration counts, workshop attendance, meal options, social event selections, and other information
  • manage on-site check-in and registration

Contact Info

To talk to someone about your conference and event planning needs, please contact Rhonda Layer.

Rhonda Layer
Program Director
College of Continuing and Professional Studies
University of Minnesota
352 Ruttan Hall
Saint Paul, MN 55108
Telephone: 612-625-4257
Email: layer006@umn.edu

Conference Services and Program Planning Team

Name Title Phone E-mail
Alicia Anderson Program Associate 612-626-9634 akanders@umn.edu
Suzanne Butler Program Administrative Specialist 612-625-2391 butle445@umn.edu
Paul Engels Program Associate 612-624-3708 enge0410@umn.edu
Madeline (Maddie) Grover Program Associate 612-624-4938 grove170@umn.edu
Rhonda Layer Program Director 612-625-4257 layer006@umn.edu