UK Government Update: Managing student returns

Please find as follows a link to guidance issued by the UK Cabinet Office, to support Higher Education Institutions as we manage our student return: https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Back-To-Higher-Education-/resources/Back-To-Higher-Education-Toolkit/


Universities in the New Normal: Is It Time to Rethink our Values?

Back in July, fellow colleague and good friend of UKTGA, Kevin Richardson hosted a workshop on Universities and their need to assess their current situation sin this CV-19 era.

 

Take a look at his full research here:

Universities in the New Normal: Is It Time to Rethink our Values?
A Provocation!

The proposal to government from Universities UK seeking a financial bail-out in the current crises is not just about money in the short term. The proposal can be seen as the first of many possible steps in establishing a new normal for the system of higher education in England as a whole. Things that mattered most in the days before COVID may well no longer have the same relevance. The concept of unfettered competition and the potential for universities to be allowed to ‘exit the system’ with no apparent thought to the inevitable local social and economic implications may well have ended. Independence and autonomy may well become a much more relative term as new strings are introduced, and as the sector may well be forced to accept a new ‘regime’ and ‘fundamental’ reform. The sector can allow the government to dictate the design of the new normal or it can consider for itself how better to base those futures. It can hang on to artificial technocracy of the old ways, or it can define a new future much more soundly based on their reflections of their positive contributions to the COVID crises, and on renewed fundamental values which underpin the real purposes of what it is meant to be a new university in the new normal. In summary, it can’t have its cake and eat it...

Universities across all parts of the country responded to the health crises with real pace, skill and scale to support its students, stakeholders and local communities. The physical and mental health of students was recognised immediately as being of paramount importance. Hardship Funds and Food Banks to help students in financial need were set up or expanded in scale. Students were sent home to find that replacement provision of much teaching had largely migrated online with previously unbelievable speed. The simplistic notion that universities were not in loco parentis was ditched immediately. In its place was a genuine and sensitive approach to pastoral support for its students which it accepted, by its actions, were in its care. Administratively, universities agreed with government and its agencies that work on the Research Excellence Framework could be effectively suspended with immediate effect. Universities agreed also to a form of a ‘deal’ in the competition to attract students, albeit temporarily, and even if some universities are likely to benefit more than others. These new approaches were underpinned implicitly by values rather than by money or basic institutional survival.
The excellent work of universities in the health crises was not limited to students and staff on campus. Yorkshire Universities, as one example, easily and quickly collated an iterative database of all actions undertaken by universities in collaboration with its stakeholders across that county.

Doctors, nurses and other medical staff were graduated and released early to go to work immediately on the front line of the fight against the virus. Specialist equipment in university laboratories were commissioned to produce PPE equipment, sanitising liquids, ventilators and other breathing apparatus. Other labs were commissioned and car parks were offered up at urgent notice to deliver COVID testing. Online training was delivered to NHS staff who had been reallocated to work on COVID priorities. Numerous university facilities were made available free of charge to fee and accommodate health service staff. University staff were given paid leave to volunteer their specialist knowledge in local hospitals. Social science researchers have been deployed around the region to study the socio-economic impacts of the virus in local communities. Local businesses have been provided with new training and advice and guidance services provided free of charge. Senior university officials joined local COVID Task Forces to help develop more aggregated approaches across different institutions. Universities across Yorkshire have delivered for their local community even in the face of potentially severe financial pressures of their own. Universities in all other regions can tell a very similar story.

Universities have demonstrated that they stepped up to the plate to support their community in their local place. Universities have deployed their often very significant assets as an anchor institution in partnership with other stakeholders, their willing staff and their students. These examples will do much to (re)build the trust and confidence that local people have in their university. The new links established between the university and local communities are likely to last long after the immediate crises, and should be built upon. Universities will do well after the immediate crises to reflect on the values, which underpinned these contributions of which they can be proud. They can compare those values and actions against the drivers which motivated and focussed their behaviours before the crises, and what they perceived then, as the primary purpose of their university.

The objective of a university should not be to rise up in whatever specific newspaper ranking system best suits the specific interests of any university. Nor should it be to secure a good score in the REF in order to attract more QR funding for research, or to win more money from challenge led competitions managed by the Research Councils. It should not be to build the number of citations or patents lodged. Nor should it be to get a good score in the TEF or recognition from students in the National Student Survey. The primary purpose of a university is not to grow in order to become more financially sustainable, or for the supposed status that is perceived as deriving from such growth, or even growth for its own sake. Nor is the purpose of a university to solve problems around the world if that is done simply to build prestige and attract further funding. Some of these aims and activities are good things and are useful to measure but they should not be the overriding purpose of any university.

Most universities were established by the hard efforts of local people, local businesses and civic society to support the development of the local economy as it first industrialised and then continued to grow. Universities trained the skilled workers needed by firms and developed the technology needed to protect the environment. They trained the doctors and scientists needed to improve the health of the workforce and the quality of the local environment. These functions of a local anchor institution remain as relevant today as they did in the past, and no more so at this time of ever widening economic disparities, and at this very moment as we seek to recover from the triple crises of the environment, health and the economy. We have seen that our universities have demonstrated recently that they can deliver locally on these agendas as only anchor institutions can. But, equally, nor do these important functions alone represent the purpose of a university.

The real purposes of a university are to enthral, to excite, to stimulate, to act as a catalyst for untrammelled open-eyed curiosity and for hard and crunchy critical thought. It is to offer new and seemingly unlimited opportunities to all people, especially those who would otherwise not have the same life chances. It is about bringing together people of all backgrounds, in peace and in friendship, to learn and to wonder together, because that is the right thing to do, not because the university needs to make a profit from international visitors. The purpose is to build and develop people to be better human beings, equipping them with the knowledge, understanding, skills and tools which they can use and develop further throughout the rest of their life. The purpose of a university is also to find new opportunities to do things better, to help the economy be more productive and more sustainable, and, increasingly, to solve wider societal challenges that are, in no way addressed by the perceived benefits of the supposedly value free, free market. Crucially, it is to build and to share freely that new knowledge with all others that need it. The fundamental purpose of a university is therefore relatively simple to define. It is why most universities were formed and remain legally established as a charity and not as a business. It is simply to do good.

Each and every university has a strategy which contains a vision. Some last a long time and others only until the next vice chancellor is appointed. Some drive cultures and focus activities over the longer term, and are widely held across the university. Others lie redundant in a glossy binder on a dusty shelf, or in a dark and unread corner of the internet. Many strategies speak of enhanced reputation and growth, ‘going up the rankings’, and competing to attract more students and more researchers and more research money to fund those researchers. The notion of ‘excellence’ is often widely promoted even if only a few seek to define that term in any meaningful detail. There are some universities who can demonstrate with real and hard practical examples how they are delivering at both global and local levels, but the geographical balance in the scope of many universities is often portrayed as more national or even global, much more so than local, as those wider perspectives are perceived by many as bringing greater prestige, and, as a result, more students, more research and more money. But fewer university strategies set out within any real precision the values which are important to it as an institution and as a community, and critically, how those values were established and how management works with these values to embed them into everyday cultures and decision making.

The health crises and the economic crises that is now unfolding, including the financial black hole facing many universities, is a time when institutions can, should and must consider again how its own values will inform its new futures. The new normal will not be the same as the old normal. What worked in the past may very well no longer work in the future. Values such as ‘internationalism’ can no longer be equated simply with income. Higher education as a sector will be much less about unrestricted ‘competition’ and less also about defining and measuring ‘excellence.’ Institutional ‘independence’ and ‘autonomy’ can be only now be more relative when the sector is now even more dependent on the government and its use of taxpayer finance.

The best universities in the world are clear about the values which they think are most important to them and how they use these values to drive their culture and practices.

New values are now needed more than ever. How can universities be more ‘kind’? How can they ‘care’ more, and ‘share’ more, building on, and continuing the good work they demonstrated during the CIVID crisis? Now aware that some BME people are much more likely to die from COVID as white people, how can universities make a much more substantial and effective contribution to the genuine ‘inclusion’ of more people from different backgrounds, especially those who have been discriminated against by their socio-economic background, ethnicity, disability or sexuality? How can a university decide whether to fund new research activities when the money could alternatively be used to continue to provide free hot meals as it did during the crises to homeless people in the food kitchen across the street? Indeed, what values does the university now place on key workers and how can it decide how best to build further the skills of these key workers? What new and real value does the university place on its relationship with other stakeholders with whom it cooperated so closely during the COVID emergency. What value does it place on collaboration rather than competition? What value does the university place on its civic role of collaborative leadership it demonstrated during the health crises and again now, as it and other anchor institutions pull together to build a new local economy? How does a university decide what is most important? The discovery of a fantastic new theoretical technology that may never brought to market? Or more simple methods to make best practical use of existing technologies in new ways; as it did with the very rapid adaption of ventilators? It is only the use of new values that can help make these new decisions within the new normal.

The new values that will become more important to a university can only reflect those of its local communities and of its local stakeholders. New values cannot be imported from the latest fashionable academic textbook, from simplistic governmental jargon or slogans, nor indeed, simply and only from its experiences in the health crises. Nor can values just be single words presented neatly in yet another glossy document. Values must be embedded across the entire organisation, even within the most collegiate and otherwise fragmented institutions. The university needs to demonstrate practically how values will used to design strategy and to make operational decisions. How will it use these values to attract more of the students and researchers that are more likely to demonstrate these values. Senior management, including the vice chancellor in particular, will need to lead the adoption of new values and will need to visibly accountable for delivery and impact on performance. Values can only have meaning and real effect if most of the external stakeholders of a university can recount those values with ease and without prompting, and if they confirm that they believe they are genuine.

Seeking to build a new normal that is based on values rather than on quasi-artificial performance metrics can much more easily drive a university to set itself apart from others to attract more students and researchers. A values approach can embed a university more strongly within its local state and it can then benefit from its political influence and financial systems. Firms of all sizes and from all places, local and national, will be much more aware of cultures, capacities and motivations. Demand and private cash contributions for research will rise. It may cost more money in the short term, new investments will be needed, and it may well take time for the fuller benefits to feed through, but the longer-term outcomes can only be better than the kinds of shorter term and narrower focus of the technical and financial outputs that many universities are currently required by the current system to seek.

Universities can learn much from the good they did during the health crises. They can build their own futures based on the values that matter the most and are really important.

 

 


How has CV-19 affected relationships around the world?

Poppy Humphrey, our town gown relations expert here at UKTGA has been researching how international student housing sectors are adapting to the challenges of Covid-19.

 

Her full written article can be found on University Business by following this link.

 


PR Lessons Along the Way receives stellar reviews

PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations Professional Lands Amazon's "#1 New Release in Public Relations" Spot for June  

Higher Education PR Veteran Marc Whitt Authors Book Named to Public Relations and Communication Association's "Recommended Reading List" and Recommended by United Kingdom Town & Gown Association Leaders

 Lexington, KY (June 30, 2020) – PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations Professional, a book that has already received rave editorial reviews by higher education and nonprofit leaders from across the United States and United Kingdom, maintained Top 5 status in Amazon Book's "New Release in Public Relations" category for the month of June – most of those weeks at the Number 1 spot, announced Adam Turner, president of Cherrymoon Media, a publisher based in Lexington, Ky. The book is available in print and Kindle formats via Amazon Books.

The 272- page book, named by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) to its "Recommended Reading List," is by first-time author, Marc C. Whitt, a 35-year veteran of higher education and nonprofit public relations. Whitt currently serves as director of media and strategic relations at the University of Kentucky Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications and is a part-time instructor at UK's Department of Integrated Strategic Communication.  The foreword is written by nationally-respected higher education journalist Melissa Ezarik, senior managing editor of Connecticutt-based University Business magazine.

Whitt has written a book filled with strategies, tips and advice addressing pertinent topics for those in higher education or nonprofit public relations. More than 20 chapters cover topics such as program leadership and management, crisis communications, social media, earned media, storytelling, philanthropy and donor communications, town and gown relations, branding, event planning and much more.

Interspersed throughout the book are many of the career lessons Whitt said he has personally learned and experienced during his career. He has taken these experiences and insights and shares them with the reader in an open, honest, inspiring and insightful way, said Turner.

"PR Lessons Learned Along the Way is written in a conversational tone," Turner added. "That was intentional on Marc's part and true to his personality and character.  He wants the young, mid-career or senior professional to feel as if they are sitting down with him over a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea talking shop as they learn from one another. Not only do I believe he has successfully captured this in the book, but so do many in the public relations profession who have reviewed it."

Cooper Healey and Poppy Humphrey with the United Kingdom Town and Gown Association (www.uktga.org) have been enthusiastic readers of Whitt's book since its release and have offered editorial reviews.

"Marc Whitt takes a complex subject and gives the reader straightforward, practical advice," said Healey, chair of UKTGA. "One is reassured that the potential challenges associated with 'town and gown' can easily be overcome by following simple, common-sense guidelines. Not only limited to university, community and municipal issues, Marc deftly addresses the potential to enhance the economy by engaging with all sectors, particularly tourism. Marc writes in a comprehensive, easy to follow style with points clearly set out. A pleasure to read, this book is a must for all involved in the 'town and gown' debate."

Healey's associate, Poppy Humphrey, UKTGA's North West Representative and an off-campus student affairs officer for Manchester Student Homes, concurs.

"(PR Lessons Learned Along the Way) is a true delight of a read that clearly sets out the strategic and practical approaches to developing expertise in the world of PR," said Humphrey. "Marc Whitt draws on key principles harnessed throughout not only his career, but also intertwines these lessons with reflections from wider life experiences. Marc invites the reader to trip through the narrative, interspersing motivational and thought-provoking quotes which both challenge and inspire. Many of the principles can be applied not only in a work setting but as building blocks for life. Marc sets out a blueprint for successfully navigating the reader through the intricacies of managing town-gown relations, in both an eloquent and accessible way."

 

About the Author

Marc Whitt is Director of Media & Strategic Relations at the University of Kentucky's Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications. He also serves as a part-time instructor in UK's Department of Integrated Strategic Communication and is a former PR and marketing columnist for the national trade magazine, University Business.  During his nearly 35 years in higher education, Marc's work has achieved measurable results garnering over 40 honors including back-to-back CASE Silver Medal Awards for Total Institutional Relations Program. In 2015, he received the James C. Bowling Excellence in Public Relations Award. Presented by the UK Journalism Alumni Association and UK Department of Integrated Strategic Communication, the award is given to the "outstanding public relations practitioner with ties to Kentucky." That same year, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Eastern Kentucky University Department of Communication. In 2003, he was named an Honorary Alumnus of Campbellsville University.

Recently Onalytica, a firm that identifies social influencers, named him among the "Top 100 Public Relations Influencers on Twitter;" he was ranked 21st. Additionally, CASE Kentucky presented him with its Beth K. Fields Service Award for Leadership in Advancement.

In previous years, Marc has served on the Association of American Colleges & Universities Advisory Council on Communications and Public Affairs (two of his eight years as national chair), the CASE District III (Southeast US) Board of Directors and the International Town & Gown Association Board of Directors. He has consulted organizations such as the Christian Appalachian Project, The National Association of Music Parents, Witnessing History Education Foundation, among others.

Marc earned a Master of Arts Degree (1985) and Bachelor of Arts Degree (1982) from Eastern Kentucky University.

Marc and his wife, Jennifer, formerly of Paintsville, Ky., reside in Richmond, Ky., and are the parents of three children: Emily Fields (Mark), Elizabeth Muncie (Christian), and Jacob; and the grandparents of Annaleigh and Aubrey Fields.


UKTGA Virtual Conference

Manchester Student Homes and the UKTGA continues to pave the way for collaborative work on town gown relations, across the globe.

On Wednesday 20th May, the UK Town and Gown Association (UKTGA) hosted a virtual discussion to bring together those that work and are interested in off campus student affairs, to consider the current challenges and identify potential solutions aligned to managing town gown relations during the current CV-19 period.

Manchester Student Homes’ Manager, and Chair of the UK Town and Gown Association (UKTGA) decided to use our ever-expanding global network of Higher Education professionals, private accommodation providers and members of Local Authorities to host a UKTGA online Virtual Conference.  We were delighted to welcome representatives that included University officers, Council and Police representatives, some real life students, academics, Private hall providers and wider sector bodies including representatives from the International Town and Gown Association, ASRA, as well as members of the Nordic Student Housing Organisation.

On the day we welcomed over 60 colleagues from the UK, Northern Ireland, America, Sweden, Norway and Denmark to spend two hours discussing the issues in which many University Cities and Towns are facing currently, will be sure to face in coming months, and the further implications that CV19 will have going forward.

Our pre-conference survey allowed us to pinpoint key areas in which our attendees wanted to focus on to share knowledge, experiences and best practices in their current environment. We also carried out a number of polls during the event to consider how well localised ‘town gown’ partnership were working together to respond to all the challenges.

Cooper Healey, Manager of Manchester Student homes and Chair if the UKTGA commented ‘The virtual forum offered the opportunity for colleagues to come together and collaborate, share experiences and new ideas. We received a huge amount of positive feedback from the discussions and colleagues utilising this network as a source of support during these uncertain times’

Poppy Humphrey, Off Campus Student Affairs Officer at Manchester Student Homes and who sits on the UKTGA Steering Group further added ‘It was encouraging to see that many of our current and anticipated challenges are being felt up and down the country, as well as in other countries. This is a comfort during such unprecedented times, as it means that via the UKTGA we have a network that we can share new and revised ways of working to help support all those that live in off campus communities.


ITGA 2020: A conference during crisis, a timely success

This article was originally written by Gary Stewart for University Business Magazine.

 

This year’s International Town & Gown Association (ITGA) conference took place virtually, yet tackled the big issues face-on.

If someone had predicted a few months ago that dozens of ITGA member communities and campuses would be shuttered by a global pandemic, followed by a high-profile race-related death that created more stress and uncertainty, few would have believed it. Below the storms and small in comparison, but essential for ITGA, was the fate of our long-planned June conference, set for Boulder, Colorado. At that point, no one could have envisioned a cutting-edge virtual conference that showcased the best of ITGA at so many levels, from Covid-19 to race relations 2020 and key topics in between. This was ‘ITGA Resiliency Illustrated,’ and I’ll be forever grateful.” International Town & Gown Association (ITGA) Executive Director Beth Bagwell

 

International Town & Gown Association (ITGA)‘s landmark conference featured a menu of responsive programmes touching on current events and steady challenges, including student behavioural issues and neighbourhood relations. Representatives from the UK Town-Gown Association – whose members range from a Canterbury church to the South Wales police and other stakeholders – were also in attendance.

A myriad of excellent sessions touched on economic recovery, off-campus life, and crisis communications. The latter sector included a student-led session on the many issues Covid-19 brought to a rural community of 5,500 people, on the east coast of Canada.

Conference lead presentations were just as stellar, including:

  • The renowned University of Washington professor Dr. Jason Kilmer who has served as lead investigator on several prominent studies on college-age alcohol and drug use. His presentation, ‘But we’re still dealing with alcohol! The Importance of Town-Gown Partnerships in Best Practices in Preventing High-Risk Alcohol Use and Responding to Cannabis in a Changing Legal Climate’, was powerful, entertaining and very well-received.
  • A report-out on ITGA-convened focus groups on how Covid-19 is affecting town-gown environments and relations. Research participants, all ITGA members, represented a diverse array of higher education institutions and communities.  This presentation shared key themes including top concerns for fall openings, and creative ideas for town-gown relations in the wake of the current crisis.
  • A panel presentation on the need for “courageous conversation” on racial tensions, “in order to bring understanding, peace and healing to our current reality of despair, division and racial tensions that have led to widespread global protests.”

Students played an important role throughout the conference, too, including a session titled ‘Poppy’s Wild Week’, led by Manchester Student Homes’ staff leaders Cooper Healey (also an ITGA Board member), and Poppy Humphrey. Manchester Student Homes is a service to provide off-campus and housing support to students, jointly funded by Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester.

The takeaway from this session? “We have daily interactions with students, but how much do we really understand about the student experience off-campus? It is imperative that town-gown partnership can continue to promote community cohesion within the diverse communities in which our students reside.”

“We are so grateful to our colleagues in the UK and Canada,” said ITGA executive director Beth Bagwell, who is based in South Carolina, USA. “They put the ‘I’ in ITGA, and our goal is for more nations to join our growing and increasingly vital organisation in the coming year.”

Gary Stewart is an associate vice president for community relations at Cornell University in Ithaca NY, a longstanding ITGA member.


PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations

35-Year Public Relations Professional Marc Whitt Authors Book Named to PRCA’s “Recommended Reading List”

Lexington, KY (May 27, 2020)PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations Professional, a book that has already received rave editorial reviews by higher education and nonprofit officials from across the United States and United Kingdom, is set for release June 1, announced Adam Turner, president of Cherrymoon Media, a publisher based in Lexington, Ky. The book will be available in print and Kindle formats via Amazon Books.

The 272- page book, named by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) to its "Recommended Reading List," is by first-time author, Marc C. Whitt, a 35-year veteran of higher education and nonprofit public relations. Whitt currently serves as director of media and strategic relations at the University of Kentucky Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications and is a part-time instructor at UK’s Department of Integrated Strategic Communication.  The foreword is written by nationally-respected higher education journalist, Melissa Ezarik, senior managing editor of University Business magazine.

 

Whitt, a resident of Richmond, Ky. and native of Paintsville, has written a book filled with strategies, tips and advice addressing pertinent topics for those in higher education or nonprofit public relations. More than 20 chapters cover topics such as program leadership and management, crisis communications, social media, earned media, storytelling, philanthropy and donor communications, town and gown relations, branding, event planning and much more.

 

Interspersed throughout the book are many of the career lessons Whitt said he has personally learned and experienced during his career. He has taken these experiences and insights and shares them with the reader in an open, honest, inspiring and insightful way, said Turner.

 

PR Lessons Learned Along the Way is written in a conversational tone,” Turner added. “That was intentional on Marc’s part and true to his personality and character.  He wants the young, mid-career or senior professional to feel as if they are sitting down with him over a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea talking shop as they learn from one another. Not only do I believe he has successfully captured this in the book, but so do many in the public relations profession who have reviewed it.”

 

Here is a sampling of what a few reviewers had to say:

 

"I have been looking forward to the day Marc Whitt would share his wisdom in a book. Marc has always been a leader in our field, no matter his institutional or professional association role. His casual writing style makes this book a real treat to read, and I suggest you keep it on your desk for quick reference." - Larry D. Lauer, Vice Chancellor Emeritus, Texas Christian University, and Author of Best-selling Advancing Higher Education in Uncertain Times

"Marc Whitt's book, PR Lessons Learned Along The Way, is truly remarkable -and I say that having reviewed many PR books in my time. The advice 'Maintain a good sense of humor. It will always see you through life's ups and downs' has surely never been more apt than today, with so much bad news around us. And yet the optimism that runs through this book is precisely what we need right now, and is also precisely true. Our profession's embrace of professionalism; of constant improvement; and of strategy make it -as Whitt argues- indispensable. PR is a conversation, not a lecture. And reading this book feels exactly that -one expert having a conversation with his readers, and imparting the knowledge of decades along the way." - Francis Ingham, MPRCA, Public Relations and Communications Association, Director General, London, England

 

"PR Lessons Learned Along The Way is a superb resource offering context and guiderails to manage nonprofit and higher education brands in a strategic and sustainable way. Marc reminds us of the inherent service orientation of our calling, the imperative of values such as leadership, integrity and urgency, the value of playing the long game, and the devil that resides in the detail of public relations work. Whether you are a communications rookie, a mid-career professional or a seasoned expert, you will come away from PR Lessons Along The Way feeling empowered and maybe even a little more in love with the craft than you were yesterday." - Morgan Roth, Senior Vice President, Communication & Marketing, The ALS Association, Washington, DC

 

"Marc Whitt's book is an indispensable guide for all of us currently in public relations and advancement, as well as for anyone seeking to enter the field. Marc applies his many years of experience to each topic he addresses, but his tone is never condescending or 'know-it-all' - instead, he offers pragmatic advice and solutions that will help everyone from the PR newbie to the seasoned veteran."- Jeffrey T. Spoeri, Associate Vice President for University Advancement, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas

"Have you ever found yourself nodding and saying, 'Yes, yes!' while reading a book? When a writer unveils morsels of wisdom that ring true, that's what happens. In PR Lessons Learned Along the Way, Marc Whitt becomes our mentor, an experienced friend willing to bare his heart and soul. Marc's observations are born out of being in the trenches, making mistakes and achieving monumental goals. As I read his words, it is as though we are sharing coffee and war stories, congratulating the other on a success or putting balm on a wound. Buy this book. Read it through. And when you need a pep talk or a reminder of why PR is the best profession in the world, pick it back up. You'll put it down smiling again." – Nancy Wiser, President, Wiser Strategies, APR, PRSA Fellow, Lexington, Kentucky
"If Dale Carnegie ever wanted to write a sequel to How to Win Friends and Influence PeoplePR Lessons Learned Along the Way would be it!" - Tom Hayes, Dean, Williams College of Business, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Author, Marketing Colleges and Universities, A Services Perspective (CASE Alice Beeman Award Winner)

 

 About the Author

Marc Whitt is Director of Media & Strategic Relations at the University of Kentucky's Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications. He also serves as a part-time instructor in UK's Department of Integrated Strategic Communication and is a former PR and marketing columnist for the national trade magazine, University Business.  During his nearly 35 years in higher education, Marc's work has achieved measurable results garnering over 40 honors including back-to-back CASE Silver Medal Awards for Total Institutional Relations Program. In 2015, he received the James C. Bowling Excellence in Public Relations Award. Presented by the UK Journalism Alumni Association and UK Department of Integrated Strategic Communication, the award is given to the "outstanding public relations practitioner with ties to Kentucky." That same year, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Eastern Kentucky University Department of Communication. In 2003, he was named an Honorary Alumnus of Campbellsville University.

Recently Onalytica, a firm that identifies social influencers, named him among the "Top 100 Public Relations Influencers on Twitter;" he was ranked 21st. Additionally, CASE Kentucky presented him with its Beth K. Fields Service Award for Leadership in Advancement.

In previous years, Marc has served on the Association of American Colleges & Universities Advisory Council on Communications and Public Affairs (two of his eight years as national chair), the CASE District III (Southeast US) Board of Directors and the International Town & Gown Association Board of Directors. He has consulted organisations such as the Christian Appalachian Project, The National Association of Music Parents, Witnessing History Education Foundation, among others.

Marc holds a Master of Arts Degree (1985) and Bachelor of Arts Degree (1982) from Eastern Kentucky University.

Marc and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Richmond, Kentucky, and are the parents of three children: Emily Fields (Mark); Elizabeth Muncie (Christian); and Jacob; and the grandparents of Annaleigh and Aubrey Fields.

 About Cherrymoon Media

Cherrymoon Media is a multimedia company based in central Kentucky, specializing in book publishing, music management, and web development services.


An Invite to our Virtual Conference!

Dear all

Firstly, I hope this email finds you safe and well.

As Chair of the UK Town and Gown Association (UKTGA), I am writing to let you know that myself and the UKTGA Steering Group have taken to decision to postpone our November 2020 Conference. This will now be held November 8th – 10th 2021 and will still be hosted at the University of Birmingham. Despite this being a difficult decision, we felt it was the right approach under the circumstances.

In the interim, we recognise the importance of continued collaboration. I therefore wanted to take the opportunity to invite you to participate in an online discussion to consider the current issues and challenges being faced during CV-19, as well as identifying opportunities for new ways of working that are emerging to manage town gown issues in this current environment.

The virtual forum will take place on Wednesday 20th May between 2-4pm GMT.

Here’s a short message from me, explaining in more detail:

https://youtu.be/9xHf_ddbQ1Y

 If you are interested in taking part, please email Poppy on poppy.humphrey@manchester.ac.uk by close of play Monday 11th May 2020.

We hope that you can join us.

 

Best wishes and stay safe

 

Cooper Healey

UKTGA Chair


The Impact of COVID19 on University towns and cities

Our good friend and exceptional colleague Steven Gavazzi has wrote about the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on American Colleges' cities and towns.

 

Until recently, college towns were thought to have a distinct economic advantage over municipalities that did not host an institution of higher learning. Colleges and universities were touted as “anchor institutions,” a term indicating their long-term investment in the communities they served. With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, these same towns now face very real economic peril. Students have been sent back to their homes to reduce the spread of the virus. Gone with them is the purchasing power they had poured into the local economy.

So far, significant government attention has been paid to the current fiscal difficulties faced by our nation’s colleges and universities. Most importantly, this includes $14 billion in aid from Congress to institutions of higher learning (half of which must be used for emergency student financial aid) embedded in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act (an acronym that stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security). While state and local governments also stand to benefit from CARES Act money through a $150 billion fund, there is nothing in the congressional action that addresses the specialized needs of college towns.

Chief among the unique aspects of the college town is the back and forth movement of students and how those population swings impact the local economy. When students arrive on campus in the fall, businesses thrive. Apartments are rented, back to school supplies are purchased, etc. Once students settle in, they frequent coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and various entertainment venues surrounding campus. Home football games and other large social events hosted by universities add to the mix. Food and beverages are bought in copious quantities by participants in the revelry. Hotel rooms fill, collegiate merchandise is snapped up, and gas tanks are filled, among other purchases made by these weekend visitors.

When the academic year is over in the spring, students graduate or go back to their hometowns for the summer. Sports seasons are completed, and other campus events wind down. Hence, the college town population contracts for several months, and the economy slows to a trickle of its former self. In a normal year, this downturn is relatively brief, and it can be anticipated by local businesses. Now, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy to an almost immediate and complete standstill, and many months earlier than had been anticipated.

Alarm bells are beginning to ring among various individuals and organizations familiar with the plight of college towns. For example, a recent webinar on this topic was organized by the International Town-Gown Association with the title “College Towns in Crisis.” Attended by campus and community representatives from across the country – including mayors, city managers, town council members, and university staff members – it proved to be an interesting conversation, to say the least.


UKTGA Conference Update

From us all here at UKTGA we hope that all our friends, followers and colleagues are keeping safe under the current effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

It is under these circumstances that we have seen no other safe and logical decision other to postpone our UKTGA 2020 Conference until next year.

UKTGA 2021 will now take place November 8th – 10th 2021 and will still be held at the University of Birmingham.

We would like the thank the University of Birmingham for extending their hospitality until next year, where we will be back bigger and better than ever.

Your UKTGA Steering Group are busy working behind the scenes to consider new learning opportunities in these challenging times to support all our members. We will provide updates in due course.

In the meantime, please feel free to utilise our UKTGA Jisc network to meet likeminded individuals and share ideas and best practice on any issue relating to town gown relations. If you haven’t already signed up, please contact poppy.humphrey@manchester.ac.uk

 

With very best wishes,

The UK Town & Gown Association.