Debate Over Paying Student Athletes Continues

We’re officially in the thick of college football season, and this season has already had plenty of excitement. With the first ever college football playoff looming over each week’s games, there seems to be no shortage of controversy and criticism over how the 2014 season will turn out.


Behind the scenes, however, much more serious controversies have continued to simmer. The issue of sexual assault and how institutions handle allegations involving athletes has been front and center this season. Not far behind is concussion and player safety—yesterday, we learned that many institutions are lagging when it comes to compliance with the NCAA’s concussion policy.


While presidents and athletic directors have their hands full with these student safety issues, that has not quieted the debate over whether student athletes should be paid. This is an issue that receives plenty of coverage, particularly since the NCAA’s Division 1 schools voted to change their governance structure and give more autonomy to schools in the wealthiest athletic conferences.


I know it can be tough to sift through all of the news around such a hot-button issue, so I wanted to highlight a few recent pieces on the topic that stood out to me:


  • The New York Times had a fascinating piece last week about a collegiate sport that operates outside the NCAA’s control and allows its players to compete with professionals and get paid for it.


  • Minnesota Public Radio’s Daily Circuit tackled the issue in an episode featuring University of Minnesota Deputy Athletic Director Beth Goetz.


  • The issue of whether student-athletes are employees was a topic of conversation at yesterday’s Big 12 State of College Athletics forum in Washington, DC. Coverage of that event is available here and here. I also recommend tracking the conversation on Twitter. ESPN’s Heather Dinich had some particularly good commentary:




I am sure there will be more interesting coverage in the coming weeks. I will highlight the pieces that jump out to me here and on Twitter. If there’s a particularly interesting article you want to share, please leave a link in the comments. I’d love to check it out!


And, lastly, lest we forget that college athletics are supposed to be fun, here’s my personal favorite link of the season so far (h/t to Erin Hennessy).


Pomp & Strategy

On Saturday, I had the great honor of representing my alma mater at the inauguration of St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s seventh president, Dr. Tuajuanda C. Jordan. I’m a sucker for pomp and circumstance, so I was thrilled to don some academic regalia and spend a day celebrating this milestone with the St. Mary’s community. The ceremony was wonderful – full of warmth and personal touches and great excitement about the leadership of President Jordan and the bright future of St. Mary’s College.


The selection and installation of a new president is perhaps the most important inflection point for an institution—it offers an opportunity to reconnect with its many constituencies, to honor its distinguished history, and to lay out an exciting vision of the future.


If you haven’t been through a presidential transition yet, you likely will—data show that the average tenure of a chief executive in higher education is just about six years.


To take full advantage of the unique opportunity a new leader affords requires a lot of careful planning, beginning the moment a search for a new president is announced and running through the selection process, the announcement of a new president, right up to and through inauguration day.



Position yourself as a resource to the search committee. Beyond issuing press releases about the process, the search committee will need and benefit from your advice on how the campus community expects to be communicated with during this exciting time, as well as your perspective on how to best engage the institution’s constituencies throughout the process.


Use this time to take stock. Assess the successes and challenges you’ve faced with your outgoing leader. What wins have you had in thought leadership and media relations? Where have you struggled in positioning the institution or the president? What is needed to take the communications operation to the next level?



Keep it authentic. The announcement of your new president is a delicate balancing act of honoring the institution’s history, embracing its future, and ensuring that the rollout reflects both the values and the personality of  the institution and the incoming president. As the communicator, you’re going to have important insight on these questions, so use the credibility you’ve gained with the search committee above to advocate for a central role in the planning of the rollout.


Take the time to think strategically. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you think about all the logistical details involved in pulling off a presidential announcement. But your institution and your president will be better served if you start thinking strategically from the moment the president-elect is named. Ask for copies of the president-elect’s cover letter and CV to get an idea of how he or she positioned him or herself in relation to your institution. Listen closely for the beginnings of a plan or area of focus and dig a bit when you hear them. Ask the open-ended questions that will enable you to start building a messaging platform around the new boss and his or her vision.


Think beyond the new boss. There are a lot of people who have personal, professional and emotional stakes in this announcement—be sure you’re thinking about all of them. Pay particular attention here to the outgoing president—she or he will likely be wary of stepping into the new president’s spotlight, but it is important for the institution to honor both leaders and to remember that the current president is still the president. Also think about what role the incoming president’s family might play. Is there designated time for students, faculty, staff and alumni to greet the president-elect?  Do you need to find a role for elected officials, major donors, or other stakeholders?


Play to your strengths. Do you have a killer social media team? Let them loose on this event and encourage them to dream big—hashtags, selfies with the new president, Vine greetings from alumni and students. Do you have an incoming president with great personal warmth? Get her or him on video so that alumni far and wide get the opportunity to feel that warmth and share in the excitement of the big announcement. This is your opportunity to shine, as a communications team and as an institution.



Honor the past, embrace the future. A successful inauguration is a balancing act—the best ones honor the institution’s past (and the people who have led previously) and celebrate the future vision of the new leader. Find creative ways to nod to both in creating the platform party, selecting the speakers, and putting together the events that surround the actual ceremony.


Keep on trucking. My last piece of advice is to remember that the inauguration isn’t the end of the presidential transition period. Instead, think of it as an important midway milestone of your rollout of the new president. If the early stage focuses on introducing the person, and the run-up to the inauguration focuses on establishing the vision, then the post-inauguration period should focus on sharing the vision broadly among stakeholders both internal and external.


A presidential transition is an exciting and somewhat anxiety-inducing time, but with some advance planning and strategic thought, it can provide a fantastic opportunity to move your institution forward and to re-engage your stakeholders in the mission and vision for the future.

TVP Communications Week in Review

What a week! Before you head off to celebrate the weekend, check out all the things TVP Communications has to celebrate in the news this week…including Paul Rudd!


What’s new this week:


We had some excellent client success this week, and the TVP Communications team made a splash in the news, too!


University of Redlands was featured in a front-page profile of two very generous alumni, Rich and Ginnie Hunsaker. Their love for their alma mater inspired them to donate $35 million to create a new scholarship for the university.


Higher One got a shout out from grant winners for the company’s prize to promote financial literacy programs on campus.


With the Ebola outbreak at the forefront of the nation’s news, Professor Bianca Mothe at California State University, San Marcos offers tips on what will (and what won’t) keep you safe.


Principal Teresa Valerio Parrot’s expertise in university crisis management was quoted in a Chronicle article about Title IX.


Congratulations to Kyle Gunnels, who was recognized by University of Alabama’s Communicator Magazine as one of 40 outstanding alumni. Check out page 35!


Ali Lincoln reflected on her past role as a college counselor and brought that experience to the FAFSA position debate in an op-ed for Inside Higher Ed.


What we’ve been talking about:


We were so pumped about Kyle’s recognition from his alma mater that Teresa blogged about him and his success in the communications field.


Kristine Maloney bridged the gap between publication expectations of the media and academics with her insight on deadlines and drafts.


Follow us on Twitter!                    


Are you following the TVP Communications team on Twitter? Here’s a look at what we were tweeting about this week:

Deadlines and Drafts: Where Higher Ed and the Media Diverge

Of all the questions and comments I receive from faculty and administrators about working with the media, the ones that seem to come up most frequently revolve around deadlines and drafts. And it makes sense, when you think about it—because the reality is that these two things function completely differently on college campuses than they do in newsrooms.


Take deadlines, for example. In academia, it’s very common to have weeks or even months between project deadlines—or at the very least, days. Soft deadlines and extensions are also not unusual. Not so in the fast-paced media and social media world. Reporters often have mere hours to turn stories around, which means they need expert sources right away. They don’t have the luxury of scheduling interviews out three weeks in advance. Everything is “last minute.” So, if a reporter asks you to be available within a few hours, don’t take it personally. It’s not a show of disrespect for faculty calendars and responsibilities. It’s just the way a reporter’s world works. The truth is, it’s a compliment when a reporter takes the time to find you and reach out in the first place.


Then there are drafts. In higher education, it’s acceptable—and even encouraged—to give sources and other colleagues the opportunity to make edits, change quotations, and even major editorial revisions. After all, when you are telling your own (or your institution’s) story, you should take advantage of every opportunity to make that story perfect. In journalism, participating in these kinds of activities, as harmless and natural as they seem to non-journalists, could cost a reporter his or her job for violation of ethics. As with many ethical dilemmas, sharing drafts with sources is a hotly debated practice. The American Journalism Review had a great article years ago that touches upon many aspects of the debate and Louisiana State University’s Steve Buttry, a visiting scholar and journalist, also has a great list of pros and cons worth checking out. But the fact remains that the large majority of reporters just don’t do it.


There are practical reasons for not sharing drafts as well. Emails are easily forwarded and a reporter could risk their story being leaked too early, or even getting scooped by another source. Then there’s the time issue again. Deadlines usually don’t allow for enough time to have sources review pieces.


All of this means that sometimes mistakes are made. Unfortunately, that’s the risk we take when we choose to engage with the media. I still believe that the potential (remember, it’s not a given) for minor errors is well worth the benefits of a well-placed media piece. There is still no better, more objective way to tell your story.

Week in Review

It’s been a wonderfully busy week here at TVP Communications. While members of the team kept their noses to the grindstone this week, we made sure to save time for some important introspection.


Here’s a look at some things that kept us busy and caught our attention this week.


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What’s new this week:




What we’ve been talking about:




Follow us on Twitter!                    


Are you following the TVP Communications team on Twitter? Here’s a look at what we were talking about this week:




And because it’s always nice to end the week on a warm and fuzzy note:


Financial Literacy Education–an Issue on which Both K12 and Higher Ed can Agree!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending “Bridging the Gap: Increasing Financial Capability Among College-Bound Students,” a financial literacy symposium hosted by Higher One. To me, one of the most fascinating aspects was the event’s focus on both the higher ed and K-12 space, which is different than many gatherings that focus solely on one perspective.


The symposium started off with a presentation from Eileen Klein, president of the Arizona Board of Regents, on the AZ Earn to Learn initiative that aims to “prepare high school students for college with financial education and matching funds.” This innovative program works directly with low- and limited-income Arizona high school students to build financial skills and a focus on saving for college, while providing matched-savings funds (with an 8-to-1 match). I highly suggest reading about this program and its many nuances.


After hearing about the most recent Money Matters on Campus survey data from Mary Johnson,  a panel of high school educators and innovators discussed the ways in which they have addressed financial literacy in high school classes and peer-to-peer mentorship programs, including the Moneythink model. Brian Page, a panelist and educator at Reading (OH) High School, detailed how he teaches his students money management lessons via engaging ways, some of which were covered in this New York Times article.


Rounding out the event was a discussion about the different ways Sam Houston State University, The Ohio State University and Tyler Junior College, implement programs to engage students with financial education. Bryan Ashton, from OSU, highlighted his institution’s approach as “preparing students for successful citizenship beyond college.” All in all, it was an event in which the attendees were engaged and truly learning from one another about how each “side” works to reach students with key financial literacy skills.


A very small collection of tweets from the event, some of which link to financial literacy resources, are as follows:

Smart Marketing Doesn’t Have to Mean Selling Your Soul

I’ve been a member of the TVP Communications team for three months now. Not brand-spanking new anymore, but new-ish. For those who don’t know me, my background is in communications and marketing. I have a lot of experience on the public and media relations side, but my passion is marketing.


Prior to joining TVP Communications, I worked on the marketing team at the American Council on Education, where I learned how a high-functioning marketing unit could serve as a valuable component of an overall communications effort for a higher education organization.


Part of the reason I decided to join TVP Communications was because I was excited for the opportunity to develop marketing strategies for the fantastic institutions and organizations on the client roster. So, naturally, I read last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education article about marketing in higher education with great interest.


For the most part, I think Mr. Gardner captured the importance of marketing as well as the challenges involved in marketing for higher education, an industry that has traditionally viewed the field as “selling your soul.”


I absolutely understand the apprehension. There is a lot of bad marketing out there. There are too many under-researched marketing campaigns consisting mostly of bad copy, generic messages and stock photos – all of which waste time and money and none of which really reflect institutions’ “souls” at all.


I think that good marketing strategies are built on a genuine understanding of an institution, its mission and its audiences. That comes from taking the time to get to know the people – leaders, faculty, students etc. – that make an institution special and turning that into an authentic, smart campaign. Good marketing campaigns should not feel “icky.” They should feel like an honest reflection of the institution and they should resonate with their intended audience(s).


Part of why I’m so interested in marketing and communications for higher education is because there is so much excellent work happening on campuses. It can be difficult for faculty or institutional leaders to know how to effectively communicate that great work to the outside world. That’s where marketing comes in, in my opinion. It’s about using research and data to find smart, creative ways to connect with your audiences. It’s finding ways to develop a clear message platform that effectively captures the work of all departments on a campus into one cohesive communications strategy.


It still may not feel 100 percent wholesome to those who see any effort to promote as contrary to the traditional mission of higher education institutions. But the fact is that colleges and universities are having to adjust to a “new normal” of lower enrollment, continued state budget cuts and more questions than ever before about whether the traditional college experience is worth the rising cost. And those are just a few of the challenges facing institutions today.


From where I’m sitting, it is more important now than ever before that institutions understand what makes them unique, know their audiences and find creative ways to connect with those audiences.

TVP Communications Week in Review

Hooray—it’s October! If you’re looking for important updates in the Internet cat world, Erin Hennessy has you covered. If you’re looking for updates in the higher ed world, read on for our take.
What’s new this week:
The first semester can be tough on students financially. Higher One’s Financial Literacy and Student Aid Policy DirectorMary Johnson has great advice on the Huffington Post for parents on talking to their freshmen about money.
More advice for parents on the Huffington Post: Frostburg State’s president Jonathan Gibralter on how parents can be partners for keeping students safe at school—great follow up to the school’s efforts to reduce binge drinking on campus.
The Chronicle featured Maharishi University of Management’s unique loan program for international students, a program that gives real world experience and an easier way to pay for school.
The national edition of Deseret News included Talent Dividend in an article about college completion emphasis in faith-based communities.
Farmer School of Business students were highlighted in the Wall Street Journal blog CMO Today for offering insight to advertising agencies.
What we’ve been talking about:
Erin got click happy with her take on reading the news. She has some great suggestions for what media outlets to follow for the latest information.
Ali posted some tech-savvy ways for students and those who work with students to stay organized and master time management.
What’s coming up: 
Next week, Kyle Gunnels will be at the Council for Economic Education/Higher One symposium—Bridging the Gap: Increasing Financial Capability Among College-Bound Students—in conjunction with the CEE’s 53rd annual

Financial Literacy and Education Conference. The symposium will focus on ways to better prepare students for real-life money management.
Follow us on Twitter!
Are you following the TVP Communications team on Twitter? Here’s a look at what we were talking about this week:


And Traveling Teresa had a whole lot of love this week:


For all of the latest news and media successes from TVP Communications, be sure to follow us on Twitter.