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Advocate for Higher Education Award


CHE’s Advocate for Higher Education Award recognizes a leader who has effectively used strategic communication and public relations to advance the mission of higher education. The awardee’s work embodies the values that we espouse as professional communicators serving higher education:

  • Using behavioral-based strategies and techniques
  • Building consensus 
  • Building relationships with key stakeholders
  • Deciphering stakeholder needs 
  • Bringing communications philosophies to the management table
  • Identifying and motivating specific behavior change and reinforcement among stakeholders

One of the strongest advocates for these values was Patrick Jackson, the former PRSA president and “counselor’s counselor,” who encouraged and supported the founders of CHE.  In 2007, on the 10th anniversary of CHE’s annual meeting, we began honoring Pat’s memory with a lecture named for him. In 2010, the executive committee established the Advocate for Higher Education award and decided to link these two recognitions by inviting the Advocate awardee to give the Patrick Jackson Lecture.

  • Advocate for Higher Education award criteria:
  • Senior standing in higher education (president/chancellor, provost or another senior leader)
  • Record of extraordinary accomplishment
  • Understands the value of strategic communication and public relations
  • Supports his or her communicators
  • Empowers his or her public relations counselor to be a strategist
  • Serves as a "thought leader" nationally in higher education 
  • Serves as a role model for others aspiring to lead higher education institutions or associations


CHE established the lecture in 2007 in order to honor the memory of Pat Jackson, a pioneering leader in the field of public relations and former PRSA president, whose encouragement was crucial to the formation of this section in the mid-1990s. The Patrick Jackson Lecture has traditionally been given on the opening night of the CHE Senior Summit, the section's annual gathering of senior practitioners/members.

Pat challenged practitioners to regard ourselves as ethical professionals who serve the greater good, as researchers, as problem-solvers, strategists and counselors –in contrast to the commonly-held view of us as the technicians and specialists who write press releases, produce web pages, answer media inquiries and plan special events.  Pat urged practitioners view behavior change as the ultimate goal of our work. His inspiring and challenging view of the profession is one that CHE espouses and champions within the higher education sector of the practice.

The Annual Patrick Jackson Lecture, held by the Counselors to Higher Education (CHE), and given by a member of higher education, typically a college or university leader who has distinguished themselves in their career by building positive public relationships built on the principles espoused by Patrick Jackson. The 2020 lecture was to be held on April 6, 2020 in New Orleans but was postponed due to the COVID19 pandemic. A virtual Summer Symposium featuring the 2020 honoree was held on July 7, 2020.


2022 - Gregory L. Fenves, President, Emory University

2021 - Michael Sorrell, President, Paul Quinn College

2020 - Dr. Astrid Tuminez, President, Utah Valley University

2019 - Angel Cabrera, Ph.D, President, George Mason University

2018 - Dr. G.P. "Bud" Peterson, President, Georgia Institute of Technology

2017 - Freeman A. Hrabowski II. Ph.D President University of Maryland, Baltimore County 

2016 - Walter M. Kimbrough, Ph.D. President, Dillard University

2015 - Mary Sue Coleman, University of Michigan's President Emerita

2014 - Hunter Rawlings III, president, Association of American Universities

2013 - Teresa A. Sullivan, Ph.D., president, University of Virginia

2012 - Rebecca Chopp, president of Swarthmore College

2011 - Stephen J. Trachtenberg, president emeritus and university professor of public service, The George Washington University

2010 - Mark Yudof, president, University of California System

2009 - Judy Phair, APR, Fellow PRSA, Past President, PRSA, Co-Founder, CHE, Vice-President of Communications, GMAC

2008 - Chester Burger, APR, Fellow PRSA

2007 - Otto Lerbinger, APR, Fellow PRSA