Shawn Naccarato, Pittsburg State University chief strategy officer, was invited speak at the Fifth Annual Next Generation Learning Spaces conference. The conference, which took place Feb. 25-27 in Los Angeles (L.A.), California is designed to explore how higher education institutions are evolving, adapting, and working through modern challenges as physical space meets digital space, according to its website.
Naccarato was chosen as one of 35 leaders invited to speak at the conference and spoke about Block22.
“I was incredibly honored to represent Pittsburg and Pittsburg State University at the conference,” Naccarato said. “Being invited to speak about Block22 is a testament to the success of the project and to the power of big dreams.”
Naccarato and Brett Dalton, PSU director of strategic communication, were at the University Economic Development Association conference in Milwaukee when Naccarato received the email inviting him to speak in L.A.
“It was cool to be at one conference, at which Block22 received a national award, and from there be invited to attend and present at another,” Dalton said.
According to Dalton, Naccarato was chosen to attend the conference in L.A. because he has “been one of the key leaders of the Block22 project since the beginning”.
“Because of the success of the project and the national exposure it has received, the conference organizers reached out to Shawn to ask him to share our story,” he said.
Naccarato’s presentation focused on Block22 and how it is “a perfect example of how strategic partnerships can lead to transformational experiences”.
“We feel like Block22 is a symbol of progress in our community, and the story of how it came to be can be an inspiration for all communities our size,” Naccarato said.
Both Naccarato and Dalton said they were proud to have Block22 recognized at a national level.
“It’s truly a testament to the years of hard work that has gone into this project,” Dalton said. “We are very proud of Block22, we are very proud to be part of Pittsburg State and the City of Pittsburg, and we’re proud of where we’re going as a community. Anytime we have the chance to share our story, we’re excited and grateful for the opportunity.”
Dalton said Block22 was chosen as a topic for the conference as it is “one of the nation’s premier living-learning communities” that is led by a university and how the university’s partnership with the City of Pittsburg can be used as a model for “how big things can happen in small and mid-sized communities”.
“Many communities have spaces like Block22, but few have been developed with our level of university support and leadership,” Dalton said. “Pittsburg State is a national leader in this area, which is why communities from across the country have reached out to learn how we got this done.”
Dalton also spoke about how Block22 is a model for how “universities can embrace innovation and accomplish big things through strategic partnerships”.
“Block22 is a wonderful mix of physical space and digital space, which is what the conference is all about,” he said. “Not only does Block22 provide office space for small businesses, it also provides co-working space and high-speed Internet for digital workers.”
While attending the conference, Naccarato was able to speak with other higher education professionals and learn from their experiences.
“The great thing about national conferences is that they provide an opportunity to learn from the other presenters and the others in attendance,” he said.