2014 Agenda

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Mountains reflected lake near Sun Valley, Idaho

The Western States Universities (WSU) External Relations Summit has traditionally convened an intimate group of external relations and advancement executives representing a variety of institutions in the west to discuss current issues impacting public universities during this era of profound transformation.


Diminishing state and federal resources and a renewed focus on accountability measures at the state and federal levels are driving academic leaders to question assumptions underlying public higher education. In response, public higher education institutions are developing new business models, increasing philanthropic support and implementing public/private entrepreneurial opportunities.


The WSU Summit is limited to 30 conferees, which provides for a unique opportunity to engage and energize our advancement colleagues and examine the role of advancement in helping our institutions navigate through the new normal.


Saturday, August 2

7:30 p.m. Sun Valley Ice Show (optional)

Individual reservations arranged through Sun Valley Sports Center (208) 622-2135.


The Sun Valley Sports Center is holding a block of 10 tickets under WSGV for the Buffet and Ice Show (new window will open) in the front row of the Lodge Terrace for Saturday, August 2.

The headliners have not yet been announced. Last year, the featured stars were Brian Boitano, Olympic Gold Medalist/World Champion/US Champion/World Professional Champion, and Alissa Czisny, 2007 US Bronze Medalist (cast of skaters is subject to change due to injury or other unforeseen circumstances).

Terrace doors for the buffet will open at 7:30 p.m. and the Ice Show should start at about 9 p.m. The dress code is Resort Casual.

Cost is $98 + tax per adult; $79 + tax per child.

To purchase tickets, please call or e-mail Francesca at (208) 622-2240 or fdelgado@sunvalley.com with your credit card information (reference WSGV) by Saturday, July 12.

Other Ice Show options:

  • General Admission (bleachers) for Ice Show only: $32-$58 + tax per person
  • Sun Room Terrace for Ice Show only: $58 + tax per person

Doors open at 8 p.m.




Sunday, August 3

7:30 a.m.   Golf Outing (optional)

Sun Valley Golf Course

Green fee with cart $149.

Contact Inez Bomar, (415) 338-2517 or e-mail inezb@sfsu.edu


1-2:30 p.m. Welcome & Introductions

Boiler Room

Brief history of the Western States Universities Conference and the new structure.

Robert J. Nava, Vice President for University Advancement, San Francisco State University


OPENING PRESENTATION: State Assisted Universities in the Aftermath of the Great Recession

Robert E. Dickens, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno


2:30-2:45 p.m. Break


3-5 p.m.  State Relations & Advocacy: War Stories

Gwen Grigsby, Associate Vice President for Governmental Relations, University of Texas at Austin, will lead the discussion on the major legislative issues including budget impacting on public universities. The session highlights the major issues that addressed in the last legislative session.

  • Texas
  • Nevada
  • California

Facilitator: Gwen W. Grigsby


5:30 p.m.  OPENING RECEPTION & BBQ for participants & families

Trail Creek Cabin

Sponsored by UBS Institutional Investing.




Monday, August 4

8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast

Boiler Room


9-10:30 a.m. Communicating Your Value(s): UC's Promise for Education

Public dialogue, rhetoric and policy—not to mention diminished federal and state funding—have forced many institutions to consider how they communicate their value and traditional missions. Meanwhile social media and emerging digital communications channels have further blurred the lines between marketing, fundraising, alumni relations, advocacy, engagement and the expectations, channels and experiences of our various audiences. Kyle Hoffman, Vice Chancellor Development and Alumni Relations at UC Merced, will facilitate a discussion of UC’s Promise for Education, an innovative crowdfunding program that lasted six weeks and generated over 4,000 donors using social media, and other ways that colleges and universities are trying to communicate and measure their value.

Facilitator: Kyle Hoffman, Vice Chancellor, Development & Alumni Relations, University of California, Merced

Speaker: Jason Simon, Vice President/Partner SimpsonScarborough (formerly Executive Director, Marketing Communications, UC Office of the President)


10:30-10:45 a.m. Break


10:45-noon War Stories, Part II


Noon-1:30 p.m. Lunch (on your own)


1:30-3:30 p.m. Foundation Boards and Emerging Issues: Movement on Divestment from Fossil Fuels

There is growing pressure on public and private university foundations from students and external groups advocating for endowment divestment from fossil-fuel industries and advocating for environmentally sustainable approaches to endowment management.  This session examines the paradigm shift from “socially responsible investing” to ESG, and discusses strategies to prepare for what will likely be ongoing challenges to align endowment investment practices with sustainability.



Brian Sharpes, Senior Vice President Investments, UBS Institutional Investing

Robert J. Nava, Vice President for University Advancement, San Francisco State University, and President, San Francisco State Foundation

Deborah Read, Vice President for University Advancement, California Polytechnic State University, and CEO, Cal Poly Foundation


4 p.m. Adjourn




Tuesday, August 5

8:30-9 a.m. Continental Breakfast

Boiler Room


9-10:30 a.m.  Developing a Data-Driven Advancement and Marketing Plan

Successful Advancement programs, broadly defined, and specifically successful fund raising campaigns, are built upon effective marketing, communication, engagement, and the development of strong relationships. The first step in building successful marketing, communication and engagement strategies, and developing meaningful relationships, with alumni and other key stakeholders, is listening to them. Advancement-centered marketing research is a powerful tool to identify the best strategies to engage key university stakeholders that speak to their specific perspective and existing relationship. Deborah Read, Vice President for University Advancement California Polytechnic State University, and CEO, Cal Poly Foundation will facilitate this conversation based upon the market research study conducted at California Polytechnic State University.


Jeff Hess, Marketing Professor, California Polytechnic State University

Deborah Read, Vice President for University Advancement, California Polytechnic State University, and CEO, Cal Poly Foundation


10:45-noon War Stories, Part III

  • Washington
  • Montana
  • Utah


Noon-1:30 p.m. Lunch (on your own)


1:30 p.m. Generating the Big Ideas and Raising Mega-Gifts

In this session will review the essential criteria for making big ideas successful and examine the processes to collaboratively and creatively generate winning mega-gift opportunities. Josh Keniston, Research and Product Director at Eduventures, will review a process to create an environment for transformational gifts which raise donors’ sights, both in and out of campaign. She will discuss the nature of Big Ideas and how they should align with development work, review the national trends in successful principal and mega-gifts and explore the best practices used to generate Big Ideas and related giving opportunities.

Presenter: Josh Keniston, Research and Product Director, Eduventures


4 p.m. Adjourn


7 p.m. WSU Summit Dinner

Location: TBD

Hosted by Eduventures




Wednesday, August 6

8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast

Boiler Room


9-10:30 a.m.  Critical Policy Issues for Higher Education

The Honorable James E. Geringer, will lead a discussion on critical issues including on-going fiscal challenges, changing student demographic, disruptive innovations in technology are just a few of the issues transforming education.  How will shifting public opinion about the role and value and return on investment of a college education.  This critical conversation with former Wyoming Governor James EGeringer will address many of the most pressing issues facing public higher education today.


Presenter: The Honorable James E. Geringer, Chairman of the Board, Association of Governing Boards (AGB),Chairman, Board of Directors, Western Governors University, and Director, Policy & Public Sector, ESRI, Governor of Wyoming, 1995-2003


10:30-10:45 a.m.  Break


10:45-11:45 a.m.  Review Summit Format


Noon  Adjournment