2020 Counselors to Higher Education Summit Program

Summit Schedule



9:30 a.m.–Noon

Pre-Conference Event: Tour of Loyola University New Orleans and Tulane University

Join fellow attendees for a special tour of two of New Orleans’ local universities, transportation included. This tour requires a separate registration and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Note: due to New Orleans city restrictions, the bus will depart a few blocks from the hotel, outside the French Quarter. For special accommodations, please contact Amy Moore at


1 p.m.

Gather and Get Settled



CHE Summit Welcome

Jeanette De Diemar, Ph.D., chair, Counselors to Higher Education; vice president for university advancement and external relations, Texas A&M University-San Antonio


1:30-2:30 p.m.

General Session 1 — Opening Keynote: Higher Education in 2020: Issues and Opportunities

American Council on Education President Ted Mitchell, a former college president and top federal policymaker, will discuss these issues and take your questions during the Summit’s opening session.


American higher education will continue to face challenges on a host of public policy and practice fronts during 2020. The U.S. Supreme Court soon will rule on the legality of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), with the future of Dreamers, many of whom are our students, hanging in the balance. There are troubling signs of a decline in the number of international students coming to the United States. New federal regulations on Title IX campus sexual assault are expected to be released early in the year. Colleges and universities are being asked to do more to guard against the risks of malign foreign influence and theft of intellectual property, especially regarding China. And institutions public and private are trying to hold down tuition and increase graduation rates. Underlying all of this is the question of whether more Americans see less value in gaining a higher education and what institutions — and campus communicators — can do to demonstrate why getting a college degree remains the best path to economic mobility and civic engagement. 

Ted Mitchell, president, American Council on Education (ACE)

Interviewer: Sean Rossall, chief executive officer and managing partner, RW Jones Agency


2:45–3:45 p.m.

General Session 2 — Panel: Pitching and Celebrating Superstar Faculty

As communicators in higher education, we understand the media’s interest in building their roster of “experts.” While there’s no silver bullet to guarantee your faculty will become recognized media experts, there are some key steps you can take to position your faculty to become a sought-after media resource. How do you make your faculty more “discoverable?” How do you encourage superstar faculty to work with you to embrace the media? How you do pitch them successfully and then celebrate the results? Join this panel to discuss such questions and hear how expert faculty and communications team members worked together to realize successes in increased awareness, brand and reputation.

Katie Drake, communications manager, Marketing + Communications, David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah

Peter Ricchiuti, senior professor of practice, Freeman School of Business, Tulane University

Jennifer Greenfield, associate professor, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver

Justin Shaw, chief higher education consultant, ExpertFile


4–4:45 p.m.

Breakout Sessions:


Taking Pride in Our Story: Building Brand Engagement through Content Strategy

Strategic Communications and Marketing Track

Before the Widener University website redesign, the content experience was hindered by siloed platforms, redundant formats, inefficient processes, and a limiting design. This made it challenging to present their story to the right audiences at the right time. This presentation will demonstrate how a website redesign presented a powerful opportunity to better engage audiences by streamlining the editorial process, reinventing the brand storytelling approach, and using the CMS to present stories in relevant context site-wide.

Bridget Hilferty, director of digital communications, Widener University

Georgy Cohen, director of digital strategy, OHO Interactive


No Crystal Ball? No Problem: Tips and Tricks for Proactive Issues Management

Crisis Communications and Issues Management Track

You can’t predict the next on- or off-campus crisis that will affect your key stakeholders, but you can prepare for it ahead of time through proactive issues management. At NC State, communicators work across campus to address problems before alarm bells start ringing, and provide measured strategy in reactive situations. This session will provide helpful case studies and tips for identifying potential issues, building consensus, engaging stakeholders and more.

Mary Cole Pike, issues management lead, North Carolina State University


5–6:30 p.m.

Networking Reception


Connect with sponsors and fellow conference attendees as you enjoy cocktails and appetizers in the Royal Sonesta’s courtyard.


6:30–8:30 p.m.

CHE Advocate for Higher Education Award Dinner and Patrick Jackson Lecture


Honoree: President Astrid S. Tuminez, Ph.D., Utah Valley University


Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez was appointed the seventh president of Utah Valley University in 2018, and is the institution’s first female full-time president. Tuminez brings to UVU a broad and rich experience in academia, philanthropy, technology and business.


Before assuming her current position, President Tuminez was a world leader in the fields of technology and political science, most recently serving as an executive at Microsoft, where she led corporate, external, and legal affairs in Southeast Asia. Tuminez is also the former vice dean of research and assistant dean of executive education at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, the premier school of public policy in Asia. 


Born into a farming village in the Philippine province of Iloilo, Tuminez moved with her parents and six siblings to the slums of Iloilo City when she was two years old, as her parents sought better educational opportunities for their children. 


Her pursuit of education eventually took her to the United States, to Brigham Young University where she graduated summa cum laude in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Russian literature. She earned a master’s degree from Harvard University in Soviet Studies (1988) and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in political science (1996). 


She and her husband, Jeffrey S. Tolk, have three children. In her spare time, she enjoys running, dancing and martial arts.



9–10 a.m.

General Session 3 — Positioning Your Institution for Success Internationally

The international education landscape has drastically changed since 2014. Understanding the value of comprehensive campus internationalization and providing international engagement opportunities to students, faculty and staff is crucial to develop culturally-aware individuals who can excel in today’s competitive global workforce. In this session, we will discuss current international enrollment trends, strategies to propel your brand across the globe, and tips engage and support international students throughout the funnel - from enrollment to graduation and beyond.

Andrea Gils Monzon, marketing and communications manager, University of Kentucky International Center; 2020 chair, PRSA Diversity and Inclusion National Committee


10:15–11 a.m.

Breakout Sessions:


Representing Diversity in Marketing and Communications: Moving Beyond the "We-Are-the-World" Ideal

Strategic Communications and Marketing Track

Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the center of many conversations on U.S. college campuses, from recruitment to retention. It can be challenging to represent diversity in an authentic way without tokenizing underrepresented individuals and communities. Through interactive discussions about best practices and missteps, our goal is to promote inclusive marketing and equitable strategic communications materials that create a welcoming environment for students, staff, and faculty from all backgrounds at your institution.

Sheena McFarland, director of marketing + communications, David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah

Tasha Neumeister, communications manager, College of Arts and Sciences, Loyola University Chicago


The Crawl, Walk, Run Approach to Emergency Planning

Crisis Communications and Issues Management Track

Rather than devise a new scenario every year, Swarthmore College uses the crawl-walk-run model to build collaborative relationships with partners on and off campus. By introducing an emergency scenario concept in year one and expanding it in year two, the College is able to run a dynamic simulation in year three. This approach helps reduce stress around training and helps the College put in place the lessons from training programs to improve existing operations.

Alisa Giardinelli, assistant vice president of communications, Swarthmore College
Mike Hill, CPP, head of public safety, Swarthmore College


11:15 a.m.–Noon

Breakout Sessions:


Building Connections Through Storytelling

Strategic Communications and Marketing Track

During a challenging time for colleges and universities nationwide, the University of Washington is using in-depth, multimedia storytelling to build trust, strengthen personal connections and increase support for its students and mission. Learn how to place good stories at the heart of your marketing and communications, whether your goals are to increase enrollment or support a fundraising campaign.

Jack Martin, APR, assistant vice president for communications, University of Washington


Prepare Your Institution for the Next Recession

Crisis Communications and Issues Management Track

The political and economic landscape has transformed since the Great Recession. Policymakers are offering less funding but making more demands. Potential students have alternatives for industry-recognized credentials that did not exist a decade ago. We will look at how messages from higher ed have to change to rebuild dialogue with political and industry leaders, and our communities, before the next economic downturn.

Scott Pattison, board member, Center for State and Local Government Excellence

Timothy Goral, executive director of media relations, University of Bridgeport


12:15–1:45 p.m.

General Session 4 — (Lunch Session) Community Builder & Chief: How to Effectively Use the Voice and Office of the President to Engage, Reassure and Mobilize Campus Communities in the Face of Challenges


Tania Tetlow, president of Loyola University New Orleans and former chief of staff to the president at Tulane University, and Debbie Grant, former vice president of communication at Tulane University and former interim CCO of Loyola University New Orleans, will explore the ways in which a unified presidential voice can help catalyze a campus to make extraordinary change. The conversation will look at the role  of its new president's voice in helping the community coalesce to address financial shortfalls and the probation of its accreditation and how that community turned these challenges into one of the University's most successful admissions cycles. 

Tania Tetlow, president, Loyola University New Orleans

Debbie Grant, former vice president of communications at Tulane University and former interim chief communications officer at Loyola University New Orleans


2–3 p.m.

Breakout Sessions:


Getting Real With Social Media

Strategic Communications and Marketing Track

This workshop will look at the downside of social media, explore students’ longing for authenticity and give tips for colleges wanting to build real relationships.

Michelle Ouellette, APR, assistant professor of public relations, SUNY Plattsburgh


Preparing for Natural Disasters

Crisis Communications and Issues Management Track

Fires, floods, hurricanes and more - how does your campus prepare for natural disasters? Representatives from institutions that have faced natural disasters will share case studies, tools and best practices developed for their campuses.

Nancy Gill, senior executive director of university communication, California State University Channel Islands 

Megan Ondrizek, executive director, communications and public relations, University of Miami

Shawn Lindsey, executive director of media relations and social media, University of Houston


3:15-4:30 p.m.

General Session 5 — Lightning Round: Ideas to Share


Do you have a short case study, topic or best practice to share? Without using technology, take center stage for 5 minutes to share your ideas with fellow conference attendees. This fast-paced session is back by popular demand and driven by attendees.

(To sign up, please contact Sheena McFarland)


5–6:30 p.m.

Networking Reception

Bourbon Balcony Suite

Enjoy hosted cocktails and light snacks in a balcony suite high above Bourbon Street — perhaps even toss some beads to revelers below!


Evening on Your Own

Gather a group of fellow attendees or head out on your own to enjoy a night out and explore all New Orleans has to offer! A list of restaurant suggestions will be available at the registration desk.




9–10 a.m.

General Session 6 — Finding the Right Internal Voice

Effectively engaging, informing and inspiring internal audiences is one of the biggest challenges to strategic communications. In particular, how and when to use a presidential voice and how to ensure you're leveraging the right voices on the right topics can be the difference between well informed students, faculty, staff and other internal stakeholders — and a coalition of folks who feel like leadership doesn't share any information. Through this conversation, we'll explore several different models to internal communications and strategic decision-making.

Mike Strecker, executive director of public relations, Tulane University

Todd Wilson, strategic communications director, Adelphi University

Moderator: Renea Morris, vice chancellor for marketing and communications, University of Denver 

10:15–11:15 a.m.

General Session 7 — There Are Influencers on Your Campus. Are They Working With or Against You?

The most important video about your campus this year probably won't come from your PR team. Instead, it will come from a student with three million YouTube subscribers, or a visiting high schooler with a large Instagram following. Sara Goldfarb will describe how the University of Delaware created an influencer program, what success can look like, and think through strategies for dealing with the other influencers at your college. 

Sarah Goldfarb, digital marketing manager, University of Delaware


11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
General Session 8 — Media Relations Luncheon Panel

During this always-popular conference session, hear from a panel of current and former journalists about best practices for media relations.

Martha Carr, managing editor, The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate

Joe Duke, former TV journalist and Professional in Residence/Journalism, Loyola University New Orleans

Emma Kerr, paying for college reporter, U.S. News and World Report

Scott Jaschik, editor, Inside Higher Ed

Moderator: Jackson Holtz, public information officer, University of Washington 


1 p.m. — Summit Concludes


Note: Schedule, topics and presenters subject to change.


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