Category Archives: Communications

A Growing Team of Seasoned and Talented Associates

One distinctive aspect of the Peterson Rudgers Group model is the ability to tap into a distinguished and diverse group of team members, associates and senior advisors who have deep experience in leadership roles at a wide range of colleges and universities. We have continued to add to this pool of seasoned leaders whose wisdom directly benefits our clients — most recently with addition of Sonya Malunda as our newest senior advisor and the appointment of Lisa Connolly as the newest member of our administrative team.

Lisa Lapin

Lisa Lapin

This spring we welcomed Lisa Lapin as our newest senior associate. Lisa served as Vice President for Communications at the J. Paul Getty Trust, the world’s largest cultural and philanthropic organization dedicated to the visual arts. There she led marketing, media relations, internal communication and public affairs, raising the regional, national and international profile of Getty and its Conservation Institute, Research Institute and Getty Library, grant-making Foundation, and two world-renowned fine art museums in Los Angeles. Prior to joining the Getty Trust, Lisa served as Stanford University’s chief communications officer for 10 years and led communications at the University of California, Davis for nearly a decade. In those roles she was a national leader on cutting-edge digital and strategic communications as well as issues and crisis management. Lisa launched her career as an award-winning journalist and editor at leading newspapers including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News and The Sacramento Bee. She holds an MLA from Stanford University and a BA in journalism from the University of Southern California.

Over the past several months, we were delighted to add four valued colleagues as senior associates: Laurie Fenlason, Alida Miranda-Wolff, Angela Paik and Marisa Quinn.

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Getting Under the Hood of a Great and Good Communications Program

Peterson Rudgers Group is regularly asked to conduct communications and marketing assessments for colleges and universities — often when there is a change in leadership, either at the presidential or vice-presidential level, and leaders want to check in on how well their program is serving a changing set of institutional goals and needs. As part of this work, we look at self-identified peers.

Dave Martel, Vice President for Communications and Chief Marketing Officer, University of Virginia

Time and again, the University of Virginia’s program has stood out as one of the best in the country, whether it’s the creative way they communicate about progress toward the university’s Great and Good strategic plan, their outstanding UVA Today daily newsletter, or a whole array of creative projects and campaigns.

I thought it would be interesting to learn more about how Dave Martel, UVA’s vice president for communications and chief marketing officer, thinks about this work. Dave generously agreed to an interview, and below are highlights of our conversation.

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Making Institutional Statements in Times of Conflict

The following compilation was developed by PRG partners Julie Peterson, Steve Kloehn, and Lisa Rudgers based on our own experiences and a review of best practices nationally.

One increasingly difficult, and perplexing, question for college presidents and their senior leadership teams is determining when to issue an official university statement in the midst of crises or concerning developments, whether they occur on campus or elsewhere around the nation or the globe. 

Much has been written about this topic in recent years, and it’s no wonder. (See the end of this essay for a resource list of further reading.) The criticism that followed nearly every statement by a university president in response to the conflict between Israel and Hamas is a painful reminder of the inherent challenges. And that is just the most recent example. College leaders were also praised and pilloried for their response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the January 6 insurrection in Washington in 2021 and the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in 2022, to name just a few. The expectation that university leaders will speak out in response to events beyond their campuses only appears to be accelerating, even as many leaders express growing reservations about taking on that role. Continue reading

Restoring Trust in Science

Preserving and enhancing faith in our nation’s scientific enterprise is central to the mission of every college and university. Our peers across higher education have been concerned about a multi-year trend for the public to devalue scientific research and expertise, and especially the growing partisan gap in the perception that science and scientists are trustworthy. The good news is that the pandemic has started to reverse this trend, with both Americans and citizens around the globe reporting renewed trust in science and medicine.

 

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Reflecting on Four Years

Team PRG marks its fourth anniversary September 1. In previous years we have paused to raise a toast in celebration, but as one of our clients recently wrote, “This is a time like no other.”

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