Most higher ed communications leaders recognize the importance of a strong communications platform for their institution’s president or chancellor. It’s not about self-aggrandizement for the boss, but the understanding that the presidential bully pulpit is a key component of an integrated, comprehensive communications strategy to advance mindshare, reputation and engagement.
Julie and I carefully monitor trends in higher education media coverage, and we continue to be impressed with the way in which college and university leaders use their bully pulpits to address not only institutional and sector challenges but also issues of deep societal concern — in their own strong and authentic voices.
In our work with higher education leaders, we help college presidents and other leaders identify compelling topics and make their voices heard through op-eds, speeches and written communications. Doing so benefits their institution, contributes to the sector, and can influence both policy and public opinion in powerful ways. And given the coarsened nature of our public dialogue, these carefully considered perspectives become even more important.
As we noted in our recent essay about trends for Inside Higher Ed, the past year saw a number of leaders speaking up strongly on relevant issues. We reviewed the past year’s worth of presidential communications, and we offer below those contributions we thought were among the most interesting and impactful.
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.