Author Archives: Julie A. Peterson

College and University Reactions to Charlottesville Attacks

Higher education leaders reacted swiftly to the display of racism, bigotry and hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. As a resource, we offer below a sampling of statements by presidents, chancellors and provosts.

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The Attack on Affirmative Action Is Simple and Powerful—and Wrong

 

Here we go again.

The news that the Trump administration may use the U.S. Justice Department’s front office to investigate the use of affirmative action in colleges and universities demonstrates the challenge of clear and accurate communication regarding this hot-button subject. When a simple idea clashes with one that is complicated and nuanced, often the truth loses out.

Lisa and I had the privilege of leading communications during the University of Michigan’s defense of affirmative action at the Supreme Court. Read the rest of our essay in today’s Inside Higher Education.

Organizing Dynamic, Not Deadly, Retreats

Summer is retreat season — time for colleges and universities, schools, departments, and centers to go off for a few hours (or days) and plan for the future. While some people enjoy this exercise, many others roll their eyes and anticipate hours of fidgeting while surreptitiously checking their phones.

But suffering is not inevitable. Facilitated well, a retreat can be inspiring, clarifying and productive.

Find out how in Lisa Rudgers’ and my latest essay in Inside Higher Ed.

 

Penn State’s Approach to Scandal Recovery

A couple of news announcements about Penn State caught my eye this week. Both are attempts to get past significant scandals by taking policy or programmatic action.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post on recovering from a PR crisis, there is a basic formula used by most people and groups who successfully move past a major scandal. It includes:

  1. Admit the mistake or wrongdoing
  2. Apologize without excuses
  3. Explain why it happened, or what you will do to find out
  4. Take steps to fix the damage and prevent a similar occurrence in the future

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Communicating the Value of University Research When Science is Under Attack

This week we attended the Association of American Universities’ annual conference of the Public Affairs Network. This group, which includes the leaders of communications and public affairs from 62 leading research universities, frequently discusses the best ways to communicate about university research and higher education more broadly.

The dialogue is particularly urgent this year in light of recent attacks on science, efforts to close off international exchange, and proposals to sharply cut federal funding for agencies that support science and medical research.

Lisa and I wrote an essay together following the conference, and it is published in Inside Higher Ed today. Our hope is that we will see the current climate as a call to action to marshal our best arguments and our most effective allies, in business and in public life, to make the strongest possible case for public investment in research.