Mountains reflected lake near Sun Valley, IdahoMountains reflected on 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 1

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

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

Photo of ice skating show at Sun Valley Resort (photo courtesy Sun Valley Resort)

Sun Valley Ice Show (photo courtesy Sun Valley Resort).

The Sun Valley Sports Center is holding a block of 10 tickets under WSGV for the Buffet and Ice Show in the front row of the Lodge Terrace for Saturday, August 1.

Josh Farris, 2015 United States Bronze Medalist, 2015 Four Continents Silver Medalist and 2013 World Junior Gold Medalist will headline the Ice Show. The Sun Valley Ice Show starts at dusk, after the Summer Symphony performance is over. The Show lasts approx. 70 minutes. All seating is reserved. Advanced reservations recommended. Headline skaters are subject to change due to injury or other unforseen 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 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 2

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

1 p.m. Welcome & Introductions

Limelight Room A, Sun Valley Inn

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

1:30 p.m. Opening Presentation: Critical Policy Issues for Higher Education

Limelight Room A, Sun Valley Inn

The Honorable Jim Geringer, will set the framework for the summit and lead a discussion on critical issues including on-going fiscal challenges, changing student demographic, disruptive innovations in technology. This critical conversation with former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer will address many of the most pressing issues facing public higher education today.

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

2:45 p.m. Break

3-5 p.m. State Relations & Advocacy: Report from the States

Gwen Grigsby, Associate Vice President for Governmental Relations, U.T. 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, Associate Vice President for Governmental Relations; President's Office, University of Texas at Austin

5:30 p.m. OPENING RECEPTION & BBQ for Participants & Families

Duck Pond Lawn

Sponsored by UBS Institutional Investing.


Monday, August 3

8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast

Limelight Room A, Sun Valley Inn

9-10:30 a.m. Creating Legislative Advocates and Champions for Higher Education

Continuing state disinvestment and competition for limited state resources are among many factors that require the need to cultivate legislative advocates on behalf of public higher education. The mobilizing of legislative champions can have a tremendous impact on the ability of public universities to effectively serve students and meet broader state needs. This session will discuss the framework and necessary elements that are critical to creating strong and effective legislative advocates. The importance of mobilizing business leaders, alumni, parents and the higher education community and building a climate of trust are among the issues that will be discussed.

  • Facilitator: Gwen W. Grigsby, Associate Vice President for Governmental Relations, U.T. Austin
  • Steve Juarez, Associate Vice President, State Relations, University of California
  • Lisbet Sunshine, Director, Government & Community Relations, San Francisco State University

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

    10:45-noon Report from the States, Part II

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

    1:30-3:30 p.m. Local Government Encroachment on University Sovereignty

    There is a trend developing in urban communities fueled by labor, contractors, gun right advocates, and other community activists to organize local legislation and ballot measures to achieve their special interest goals including raising the minimum wage, managing construction costs, defects, and contractor selection. Local governments responding to unceasing state budget pressures and competition for limited state resources are forcing governments to impose taxes for parking and other services on state universities as well as permitting concealed weapons and various construction regulations imposed on otherwise state institutions.

    The experience of the University of Washington and San Francisco State University will be addressed in this session. The national status of campus carry legislation will also be addressed.

    • Facilitator: Robert E. Dickens, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno
    • Randy Hodgins, Vice President, External Affairs, University of Washington
    • Robert J. Nava, Vice President University Advancement, San Francisco State University

    4 p.m. Adjourn


    Tuesday, August 4

    8:30-9 a.m. Continental Breakfast

    Limelight Room A, Sun Valley Inn

    9-10:30 a.m. Best Practices for Retaining Development Officers

    The recruitment and retention of development officers is a major challenge for all advancement programs. The training and retention of fundraising professionals are central to the success of a development team and the advancement's organization's work. The discussion facilitated by Fred Esplin, Vice President for Insitutional Advancement, University of Utah will focus on the ever-important topic of retaining top fundraising talent.

    FacilitatorFred Esplin, Vice President for Insitutional Advancement, University of Utah


    • Kim Tobin, Associate Vice President - Development, Colorado State University
    • Jason Wohlman, Associate Vice Chancellor - Development, University of California, Davis

    10:45 a.m.-noon Report from the , Part III

    • Washington
    • Colorado

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

    1:30 p.m. Open time

    4 p.m. Adjourn

    7 p.m. WSU Summit Dinner (no host dinner)

    Location: TBD


    Wednesday, August 5

    8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast

    Limelight Room A, Sun Valley Inn

    9-10:30 a.m. An Overview of Sustainable Investing: History & Trends

    Students across the nation are calling upon their universities to divest from fossil fuels to protect the environment. This activism follows in the footsteps of similar calls to action related to apartheid, sweat shops and tobacco. How do foundation boards balance students' concerns and its fiduciary responsibility to ensure sound investments?

    Panelists will share their data and experiences and how institutions are aligning investing with their mission and values:

    • Brian Sharpes, Managing Director, UBS Institutional Consulting
    • Virginia (Ginny) DeSanto, Vice President/CFO, Secretary and Treasurer, ASU Foundation for a New American University

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

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

    Noon Adjournment