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The "U" is serious fun

      
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ICCFA University attendees refer to the U “experience.” It’s a unique combination of several days’ concentrated study of a specialized topic in cemetery/cremation/funeral service with an emphasis is on really getting to know your classmates and forming lasting professional friendships--and a dash of Beale Street. Some are employees whose employers want them to learn in a few days what might take years to learn on the job or through the usual professional workshops and conventions. Some are owners, new managers or management-bound employees who want a well-rounded knowledge of the various aspects of the death-care profession the general public views as one.

It’s more intense and more intimate an experience than attending a convention or other meeting where attendees choose from many sessions and see many people in passing. Here, most people spend five days primarily with their classmates in one of six colleges. Students attend class, eat, sleep and socialize at the Fogelman Conference Center at the University of Memphis, with some staying across the street at the Holiday Inn and most venturing with some colleagues to Beale Street at some point for ribs and music.

Though many students can be seen checking e-mail during breaks--it's hard to get away from the office these days, isn't it?--they spend most of their waking hours making the most of this opportunity to share not only ideas but ideals. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about how to put together a meaningful celebrant service, how to improve your cemetery landscape, how to run a crematory properly, how to sell more effectively, how to manage a funeral home better or how to improve your administrative skills, you’re constantly reminded that better service to families is what it’s all about.

The experience draws many who intended to attend just one college back again and again. Even if your job is exclusively selling cemetery property, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to know about the challenges faced by those maintaining it. Those who have attended four of the six colleges graduate, and some return in the master’s program to continue learning, meeting more people and getting a shot of inspiration.

Click on each photo to see more photos from ICCFAU 2010.

Some people just can’t help playing to the camera. Yes, we’re talking about you, Dean Nancy Lohman, Professor Mike Pepperman and Professor Nectar Ramirez.

Professor Tiffany Gallarzo split the members of the.College of Sales & Marketing into teams and challenged them to develop a brand personality for the college. Here Clarke Kuebler explains that Dean (and all-around good sport) Gary O’Sullivan is posed to show that the college is forward-moving, encouraging innovation, using technology and creating ideas, among other things.

This is for all those people who said, “But no one’s taking your picture.” At the reception for Mike Burke, someone finally did. So here I am with two guys who put the “fun” in funeral director, TR Routsong and Ernie “I don’t do no stinking Facebook” Heffner.