Colleges across the country are announcing plans to cancel in-person classes as “social distancing” and remote instructional methods become the new norm. Our firm has had two client visits and strategic planning retreats converted to Zoom interactions in just the last few days. We expect more hotel and plane cancellations in the weeks ahead as we work to modify our engagements and plan for long-distance communications and strategy sessions.
I’ve overseen three university presidential transitions, and now in our consulting roles Julie and I have advised several in-house teams as they plan for a new president or chancellor.
It’s an important time in the life of an institution, and strategic communications planning is critical – both to ensure a smooth transition and to create a solid foundation for a new leader’s future direction. The most effective communications efforts happen with careful pre-planning and coordination among several college units. When this works well, everyone comes together to craft strategies that celebrate the legacy of where the institution has been, and excitement about the next chapter.
After facilitating quite a few in-house planning sessions with colleagues and clients, I offer some guideposts for making the most of leadership transition:
As we approach the second anniversary of our founding, Peterson Rudgers Group is growing! In addition to our two founding partners, Lisa Rudgers and Julie Peterson, we’re delighted to announce that four talented and highly valued colleagues—Steve Kloehn, Colleen Newquist, Grant Schexnider and Sandra Mars—have signed on as associates of PRG. They’ll allow us to expand our reach and impact while maintaining the same high level of expert counsel our clients expect from us—plus they’re smart and creative and a complete joy to work with.
Higher ed insights on our company’s one-year anniversary
We’ve learned so much.
This year we fulfilled a long-held dream after decades in higher education: We launched our own company. Now we consult with presidents and senior leaders on strategy and communication, and our work has been a joy: fulfilling, exciting, creative and launched at a critical time in higher education. Though our client base is quite broad—public and private, large research universities and small liberal arts colleges, associations and boards—these institutions share many common challenges and opportunities that are affecting higher education in 2017. Here are some of the most prominent themes and trends we have observed over the past year:
Something fascinating happened over a 7-week period this fall: several universities announced enormous gifts, innovative partnerships, or both, aimed at hugely ambitious and strategic goals in health and science. Each of these announcements represented a clear strategic vision on the part of the school, as well as highly effective communications work that helped to leverage media coverage and storytelling content for positive momentum and visibility.