2019 Higher Education Government Relations Conference

2019 HEGRC web banner

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 to Friday, December 6, 2019
New Orleans, LA

Making the Case for Higher Education Amid Scarcity and Division

About the Conference

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education are proud to sponsor the 26thannual Higher Education Government Relations Conference (HEGRC), which will be held Dec. 4-6, 2019, at the InterContinental Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. HEGRC is an educational forum for professionals whose responsibility is to foster effective governmental and community relations on behalf of public colleges and universities. The conference is coordinated by government relations staff from these associations and the Task Force on Higher Education Government Relations, comprised of state governmental affairs professionals representing the entire spectrum of American public postsecondary education.  

This year’s theme of “Making the Case for Higher Education Amid Scarcity and Division” seeks to address the dual challenges of funding and political polarization. It reflects an era in which the country is experiencing economic expansion, yet state revenue growth is often limited and uneven. This has led to intense competition for new funding and requires higher education government relations professionals to use innovative, effective advocacy strategies to make the case for higher education to state lawmakers. The funding challenge is exacerbated by growing societal disagreements on the value, purposes and future of public higher education; entrenched political polarization; and the divisive influences stemming from the 2020 election cycle.

How can government relations professionals bridge divides and successfully achieve results for public higher education in this environment? This conference will explore innovative strategies and best practices in state higher education advocacy, coalition development, media relations, policy development, and messaging to advance the public higher education agenda. It will feature a diverse array of speakers from across the country to speak on issues relevant to government relations professionals today. 

Thomas Harnisch 
Director of State Relations and Policy Analysis
AASCU / harnischt@aascu.org / (202) 478-4660 (office)

Call for Proposal

The Task Force on Higher Education Government Relations has opened the conference programming to session proposals.
The deadline for proposals was July 17 at 5 p.m. All submissions will receive a response by the end of August.


The 2019 Higher Education Government Relations Conference serves as an exceptional venue for generating product/service visibility and professional networking.  
Download Corporate Partnership Prospectus to learn more about conference sponsorship opportunities.

Schedule top

Preliminary Schedule

Wednesday, December 4

1:00 p.m.       
Conference Kickoff

1:15 p.m. — 2:30 p.m. 
Conference Opening Session

2:30 p.m. — 3:45 p.m.  
General Session

3:45 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m. — 5:15 p.m.
Affinity Group Session

5:30 p.m.— 7:00 p.m. 
Opening Reception

Thursday, December 5

7:00 a.m.— 8:00 a.m. 

8:00 a.m. — 9:15 a.m.
General Session—Presidential Perspectives: How Can Higher Education Be More Competitive in State Capitals?

College presidents and state system leaders are often the most influential voices for public colleges and universities, with the ability to share a compelling vision of the institutions and its role in helping regions grow and states succeed. What do these leaders see as successful advocacy strategies? And how can government relations professionals work more closely with their presidents? This panel of experienced college presidents will discuss their strategies for elevating higher education as a state budget priority and provide insights into how government relations professionals can work in concert with their presidents to achieve the best results for their institutions and systems of higher education. 

Joseph I. Castro, Ph.D., President, California State University, Fresno

9:15 a.m. — 9:30 a.m.

9:30 a.m. — 10:30 a.m.
General Session—Washington Update: What's Ahead in Federal Higher Education Policy? 

This year has been busy for higher education advocates in Washington.  The 116th Congress and the Trump Administration have continue to discuss the future of the Higher Education Act, immigration policy, and a wide array of key regulatory matters affecting students and institutions throughout the country. This panel will discuss key policy changes that took place in 2019, survey the higher education policy landscape in the 2020 election cycle, and look ahead to issues that could arise in Washington and their importance for public colleges and universities. 
Luis Maldonado, Vice President for Government Relations and Policy Analysis, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)

Craig Lindwarm, Vice President of Congressional and Governmental Affairs, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU)

Brian Flahaven, Senior Director for Advocacy, Council for the Advance and Support of Education (CASE)

David Baime, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Analysis, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

10:30 a.m. — 10:45 a.m.

10:45 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions

12:00 p.m — 1:30 p.m.
State Relations Award Luncheon

1:30 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.

General Session—Advocacy Showcase: Best Practices in Higher Education Government Relations

Where have government relations professionals delivered results? How did they do it? This session will explore examples of creative, replicable best practices in state higher education advocacy and government relations. It will consist of several 5-7 minute presentations from representatives of institutions, state systems of higher education, and others in higher education that have elevated higher education as a policy and funding priority through effective advocacy and government relations strategies.  

#1: College Forward (Tex.)—Citing Neighboring LA Success, Advocates Secure Mandatory FAFSA in Texas
#2: Educating Iowans for Iowa: UNI's Approach to Advocacy  

2:30 p.m. — 3:30 p.m.
General Session—Polling the Profession: How Do Government Relations Professionals View Their Roles Today?

What is the state of higher education government relations today? This interactive session will feature the results of a Fall 2019 poll of government relations professionals at public colleges and universities, including questions related to institutional capacity for government relations, their views on lawmaker perceptions of higher education, and effectiveness in advocacy. The polling results will be followed by a response from a panel of experienced leaders in the profession, as well as allow for audience participation to prompt discussion on key issues confronting higher education government relations professionals as they make the case for higher education.  

Frances Teves, Director, Government and Community Relations, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Kelly Whitten, Director of State Relations, The University of Kansas

3:30 p.m. — 3:45 p.m.

3:45 p.m. — 4:45 p.m.
General Session

Friday, December 6

7:00 a.m.— 8:00 a.m. 

8:00 a.m.— 9:00 a.m.
General Session—Statehouse Perspectives: What Do Legislators and Governors Want from Public Higher Ed?

The 2019 state legislative sessions included a sweeping set of higher education policy measures, including ambitious free or reduced college tuition plans, expansive new investments in public-private partnerships, and a renewed commitment to student success. Such a diverse array of policies begs the question: What do legislators and governors want from higher education today? And how can government relations professionals best position their institutions and systems to meet these needs? Hear from a diverse panel of state leaders on their priorities and higher education’s role in helping their state succeed, along with practical ideas for government relations professionals to effectively match higher education’s resources with state needs.  

9:00 a.m.— 10:00 a.m. 
General Session

10:00 a.m.— 11:00 a.m. 
General Session—State Outlook: What Happened in the 2019 State Legislative Sessions? What's Ahead in 2020? And What Is the Financial Outlook for Public Higher Ed? 

The 2019 state legislative sessions included ambitious changes to higher education policy throughout the country, including new free college frameworks, numerous measures aimed at combating sexual assault on campus, and overhauls to university governance structures. With 2020 elections on the horizon, the next legislative session promises continued focus on higher education policy issues. Many higher education policy proposals, however, will depend on the availability of state resources. This session will start with an in-depth discussion of the financial dynamics affecting state colleges and universities and a national economic outlook, and then review the 2019 state higher education legislative landscape and look ahead to the 2020 state legislative sessions and pivotal fall elections. 

Thomas Harnisch
Director of State Relations and Policy Analysis, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)

Susan Shaffer, Vice President & Senior Credit Officer, Moody's 


Fees top

Early Registration - $575 (Before November 7, 2019)
Late Registration - $625 (After November 7, 2019)

Registration Information top

How to Register
Please select among the two options below:

Accommodations top

InterContinental New Orleans
444 St. Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 525-5566
Reserve online

Cancellation & Refund Policytop

  • Cancel in writing by Nov. 23 to receive full refund.
  • Cancellations received after Nov. 23 will be charged a $150 administration fee that will be used to pay for meals and services already guaranteed at the hotel.
  • Cancellations received after December 3 will not be refunded.




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