See All Posts

Trusted Voices Podcast: Season One Recap

Trusted Voices Podcast branded image with headshots of Teresa Valerio Parrot and Erin A. Hennessy

Erin Hennessy and I talked about creating a podcast for years, and last fall we decided to make it happen. We launched Trusted Voices as a collaboration between Volt and TVP Communications, and I am so proud of what the podcast has become and honored with the guests we have hosted. 

Over the past semester (yes, I still express time in semesters), we recorded nine episodes, including:

A conversation with College of the Holy Cross President Vincent Rougeau in which he reflected on campus firsts and introducing himself to a new campus. And then Erin and I reflected on how inspirational we found his leadership including his comfort with what he knew and what he didn’t know.

President Rougeau boldly tackled a question about how he was thinking about legacy admissions (that alone is worth a listen), and he also pushed back on thinking about higher education’s value as limited to creating jobs. He shared,

“I worry that some people want to look at higher education in this very instrumentalist way. If you do this or you can get that, you go to college so you can get a job that should be waiting for you as soon as you leave, and they’re not thinking at all about these other issues, the intellectual development, the cultural issues, the citizenship development. How do we preserve a strong democracy where we are educating young people to be critical thinkers and to understand nuance, for instance, in their day-to-day lives and in the world around them? How do we teach them to appreciate difference in a very dynamic world, in a culture that’s becoming much more multicultural, in a world where we have much more contact with people who are different from ourselves?”

Eric Hoover, of The Chronicle of Higher Education fame, shared some honesty and vulnerability as he discussed higher education admissions processes and the students who are applying to college today. In our recap, Erin and I discussed higher ed’s ongoing conversation of value and why little progress has been made in shifting public perceptions of our industry and how a new approach is necessary.

Senior Reporter Hoover encouraged us to let go a little bit and allow the admissions process to have some unscripted conversations. He observed,

“Things you can offer a student that maybe hit a different note, that maybe are a little more organic, even if it’s putting students in touch with a current student or a recent graduate on Zoom. For some students, that may not matter but I do think, for a subset of students, those kinds of interactions really matter particularly those who haven’t grown up ambling around college campuses with their nerdy parents like I did.”

Apologies to Eric’s parents—we are sure they are fabulous people and not at all nerdy despite his assertion otherwise.

Next, I geeked out when Amy Perko, President and CEO of The Knight Commission, joined us to talk about the changing intercollegiate athletics environment and the need for NCAA reform (Erin was much more composed). Our recap included a discussion of how to think about educating senior leaders on their athletics governance roles and what comes next in athletics governance. 

Specific to Title IX and the billions of dollars of athletics revenue distribution, President and CEO Perko noted,

“If you’re going to reward athletic performance of men’s teams, then you have to reward athletics performance of women’s teams. If they [the NCAA and athletics conferences] choose to reward basketball and baseball and ice hockey, then reward women’s teams on the same side. It’s pretty simple.”

I agree, yet I think the allure of those billions make easy decisions feel not quite so easy.

University of Maryland Baltimore County President Valerie Sheares Ashby was delightfully inspirational as she described her love for our industry and respect for the leadership role she plays in higher education. If you are curious what it sounds like when Erin and I professionally swoon, well, we have an episode for that.

President Sheares Ashby was honest about what the role of president includes. She reflected,

“I did not wake up thinking I was going to be a college president or desiring to be one. I loved every job I’ve had, and it’s just come to me. But what I would say is that if you do not love academics, if you don’t love faculty and the way our crazy minds think… this is not for you. If you don’t love students who just are going to be students, they’re figuring out their lives. If you don’t love that they’re going to protest. Then this is not for you.”

What was clear is she loves all of what higher education represents and this role IS for her.

And finally, Erin and I reflected on the season and the tough issues ahead of us in higher education, our summer reading lists, and excitement for who we already have booked for season two.

Big thanks to DJ Hauschild for providing us with structure and support, Aaron Stern and Nicole Reed for producing the episodes and minimizing the fact that I recorded these from locations across the country and with less than stellar campus-based guest wifi. Thank you to everyone for listening and encouraging us to keep recording. PLEASE feel free to send us feedback and ideas at