2019 Higher Education Government Relations Conference

2019 HEGRC web banner

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

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 26th annual 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 who foster effective governmental and community relations on behalf of public colleges and universities. The conference is coordinated by government relations staff from the sponsor associations and the Task Force on Higher Education Government Relations, 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)


The 2019 Higher Education Government Relations Conference serves as an exceptional venue for generating product/service visibility and professional networking.

Download the 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—Making the Case for Higher Education in Today's Political Environment

Dannel MalloyWhile most state economies are improving, higher education government relations professionals must compete for limited new funds alongside calls to strengthen K-12 education, upgrade state infrastructure, stabilize state pension systems, and expand access to health care. Their efforts to make the case for higher education takes place in political settings that are increasingly polarized, partisan, and usually controlled by a single party. The advocacy challenge is compounded by contrasting public perceptions of higher education, rapid demographic changes, and renewed concerns about higher education’s value proposition. 

How can champions for public higher education be effective in this environment? What advocacy strategies and messages should they prioritize? The keynote address of the 2019 conference will feature University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy, who is leading a state university system in a period of remarkable transformation and change. As the 88th Governor of Connecticut (2011-2019), Malloy modernized and invested in the state’s network of public colleges and universities. A leader who has executive experience in higher education and government in two states, Malloy's remarks will focus on how higher education government relations professionals can be most impactful in today’s state policymaking environments.

Dannel P. Malloy, Chancellor University of Maine System and 88th Governor of Connecticut (2011-2019) 

2:30 p.m. — 3:45 p.m.  
General Session—Building the Bridge from Education to Employment 

One of the most asked questions by governors and legislators today is how public institutions of higher education are preparing students for the workforce, particularly their first job out of college. Some policymakers have argued that “traditional” institutions of higher education have done a poor job preparing students for employment opportunities, a perspective that has hindered advocacy campaigns. University leaders counter this perspective, citing low unemployment numbers and higher wages of college graduates.

So how well are public colleges and universities helping students transition to the workforce? How can public institutions of higher education—from community colleges to research universities—do a better job facilitating the transition? This session will feature the author of the book A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College on what government relations professionals at public colleges and universities need to know about the challenges of connecting education and the workforce today and how public colleges and universities can strengthen the case for higher education through better workforce connections.  

Ryan Craig, Managing Director, University Ventures (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)

3:45 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m. — 5:00 p.m.
Affinity Group Sessions

Community Colleges
Regional State Universities
Research Universities

5:00 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 their role in helping regions grow and states succeed. What do these leaders see as successful advocacy strategies? 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. 

F. King Alexander, President, Louisiana State University
Randy Beutler
, President, Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Para M. Jones
, President, Stark State College (Ohio) 

9:15 a.m. — 9:30 a.m.

9:30 a.m. — 10:45 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 for Congressional and Governmental Affairs, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)
Brian Flahaven, Senior Director for Advocacy, Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)
David Baime, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Analysis, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

10:45 a.m. — 11:00 a.m.

11:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.
Concurrent Session #1
Delivering Results Through Advocacy Coalitions

Coalition development remains at the heart of effective higher education government relations, including partnership with businesses, nonprofits, and other institutions of higher education. These coalitions can strengthen the case for higher education by building a broader base of support and having third parties advocate on behalf of higher education. But how do these coalitions develop? How are they maintained? What are the keys to success? Hear from higher education advocates in a diverse array of states on how coalitions helped them achieve their policy goals. 

Emma Kallaway, Government Relations Manager, Portland Community College (Ore.) (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION) (LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CALENDAR)     
Brett Rowlett, Director of Public Affairs, Lane Community College (Ore.)
John Wykoff, Deputy Director, Oregon Community College Association
Dick Carter, President, The Carter Group (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)
Concurrent Session #2
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Higher Education Government Relations

Program evaluation remains a critical, if overlooked, part of improving the effectiveness of government relations and demonstrating accountability to campus leaders. Evaluating governmental relations can include assessing its performance toward stated goals, measuring its capacity, and reviewing legislative outcomes in the context of the state legislative session. This session will explore ways to provide meaningful evaluation of state-level higher education government relations to strengthen its ability to elevate higher education as a state budgetary and policy priority and ensure continued support from college, university, and system leaders. 

Peter J. McDonough, Jr., Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Rutgers University (N.J.)
Anthony Haynes
, Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy, The University of Tennessee

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 five to seven-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 Louisiana Success, Advocates Secure Mandatory FAFSA
Speaker: Austin Buchan, Chief Executive Officer, College Forward (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)

#2 University of Northern Iowa: Educating Iowans for Iowa: UNI's Approach to Advocacy
Speakers: Mary Braun, State Relations Officer, and Andrew Morse, Assistant to the President for Board & Governmental Relations, University of Northern Iowa (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)  

#3 Missouri State University: Making a Big Appropriations Play
Speaker: Ryan T. DeBoef, Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President for Governmental Relations, Missouri State University (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)                

#4 University of Illinois System Advocacy: Cultivating Stakeholders and Changing the Conversation
Speakers: Jennifer Creasey, Senior Director of State Relations, University of Illinois System, and Marissa Brewer, Associate Director for Advocacy, University of Illinois System (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION

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
, Assistant Vice President, Government and Community Relations, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Kelly Whitten, Director of State Relations, The University of Kansas
Clayton Jones, Assistant to the President, Government and Community Relations, Monroe Community College (N.Y.)

3:30 p.m. — 3:45 p.m.

3:45 p.m. — 4:45 p.m.
General Session—The Equity Imperative: Moving the Dial on Educational Attainment Through Equity-Focused Leadership

Closing educational attainment gaps for historically underrepresented populations remains a critical priority for state policymakers. Without closing these gaps, most states will fall far short in meeting ambitious educational attainment goals over the next decade. This panel of state education leaders will discuss how their states are starting conversations on addressing equity gaps in higher education, their approaches to closing equity gaps through changes in institutional practices and state policies, and how government relations professionals can aid their efforts in advancing the equity agenda.

Wil Del Pilar, Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice, The Education Trust (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)              
F. Javier Cevallos
, President, Framingham State University (Mass.) (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)
Denise Pearson, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Equity Initiatives, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO)

Friday, December 6

7:00 a.m. — 8:00 a.m. 

8:00 a.m. — 9:00 a.m. 
General Session—Effective Advocacy for Higher Education Amid Crisis, Controversy and Change

Higher education government relations professionals must often navigate an unexpected array of crises, controversies, and transitions in their role, from campus protests to deep budget cuts and new political administrations. Campus government relations professionals can play an outsized role in shaping the response and communicating with key constituencies during these challenging periods. What are the keys to success? This session will include a panel of government relations professionals that have been through crises and controversies in their state and include a discussion of their response to these situations and lessons learned for the future.  

Miles Baker
, Associate Vice President of Government Relations, University of Alaska (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)             
Dustin Bryant
, Director of Federal Relations, University of Alaska
Jeff Buhrandt, Senior Director, State Relations, University of Wisconsin System

9:00 a.m.— 10:00 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.  

Chris Broadwater, Vice President for Workforce Policy, Louisiana Community & Technical College System and former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives (2011-2018) 
Lande Ajose
, Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education, Office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom
Rep. Mike McKell, Utah State Representative and Chair, House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee 

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, 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) (POWERPOINT PRESENTATION)              
Susan Shaffer, Vice President & Senior Credit Officer, Moody's (POWERTPOINT PRESENTATION)

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

Air Travel 

American Airlines logo
AASCU is pleased to partner with American Airlines to provide discount travel for all meeting attendees traveling to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).  

All travel booked via American Airlines will receive a 5% discount off published fares (excluding basic economy and non-discountable fares).

The discount can be booked online at www.aa.comfor AA/AE flights only, without a ticketing charge. Allow at least one hour for the site to load. Use the Authorization Number 98N9DF as the promotion code.

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 Dec. 3 will not be refunded.




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