Communications and Community Relations

March 31st - April 4th, 2014

Follow the Study Tour Online


This delegation from Finnish higher education institutions will explore best practices and trends in communications and university relations with constituent audiences.  Participants will visit institutions in Washington, DC and the states of Maryland and Virginia to discuss marketing and recruitment, information sharing, content production, promotion of science and research, brand management and related topics.  The group will learn about the American system from expert speakers and through direct observation at private and public universities.  The opening day seminar will focus on introducing the cultural, economic and political contexts in which university communication professionals are challenged to promote and protect university interests, as well as the organizations and tools which these professionals are able to utilize.  There are eleven members in the delegation.


The program begins in Washington, DC for the opening day seminar.  In subsequent days, participants will travel to two universities in Washington, DC, two in Maryland and one in Virginia.  In addition, a series of speakers representing communications and media professionals outside (but related to) American higher education will present to the delegation.  Two debriefing meetings will be held.

The study tour program and all background materials will be made available on this page.


Sunday, March 30

Evening Pre-seminar briefing at the Institute of International Education (IIE) and casual group dinner, Washington, DC

3:30-5:30pm Introductory Meeting, IIE
Terhi Mölsä, Executive Director, Fulbright Center Finland
Johanna Lahti, Deputy Director, Fulbright Center Finland
Dylan Gipson, Senior Program Officer, Institute of International Education
6:00pm Informal Opening Dinner, Old Ebbitt Grill Restaurant

DAY 1: Monday, March 31

Full-day opening seminar at the Institute of International Education; Presentation and opening dinner at the Embassy of Finland

Institute of International Education (IIE), Washington, DC

8:00-9:00am Breakfast, Welcome and Introduction
• Terhi Mölsä, Executive Director, Fulbright Center Finland
9:00-10:30am Higher Education in the United States
Daniel Hurley, Associate Vice President
Government Relations and State Policy
American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)

-Overview of U.S. higher education system and its challenges
-Roles of state and federal governments

10:30-10:45am Coffee Break
10:45am-12:00pm Science on Capitol Hill: Promoting Federal Funding of Research
Judith Gan, Office Head, Legislative and Public Affairs,
Dana Topousis, Acting Director for Public Affairs, National Science Foundation (NSF)

-The role of science in American political decision-making
-Research funding in the US

12:00-1:15pm Lunch with IIE Executives
Allan Goodman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Maria de los Angeles Crummett, Deputy Vice President, Scholar Exchanges
Institute of International Education
1:15-2:15pm Public Engagement and Science Communication
Tiffany Lohwater, Director of Public Engagement
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

-Science and society/public opinion
-Communication strategies to reach the public

2:15-2:30pm Coffee Break
2:30-3:45pm The Role of Communications and Marketing in American Higher Education
William Walker, Interim Vice President for Advancement Resources
Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)

-Evolution, trends and best practices in university communications

3:45-4:30pm Public Research Universities: Opportunities and Challenges
Barry Toiv, Vice President for Public Affairs
Association of American Universities (AAU)

-Challenges to American research universities

Embassy of Finland, Washington, DC

5:15-6:00pm Building Relationships - The R&D Comes Next
Val Kratzman
, Director, Life Sciences
Finpro USA, Stamford, Connecticut
6:00pm Opening Dinner
Hosted by Anne Vasara, Deputy Chief of Mission
Embassy of Finland


DAY 2: Tuesday, April 1

Full-day visit to Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Baltimore, Maryland

10:00am-12:00pm News, Information Sharing and Social Media
Gus Sentementes, Communications Specialist
Dave Alexander, Senior Editor of The Hub

-News desk: Information gathering and dissemination
-Science communications
-Social media goals and practices
-Media relations

12:00-1:00pm Lunch with JHU alumni
1:00-2:00pm Student-led campus tour
2:00-4:00pm Alumni Relations and Campaign Communications
Jim McMenamin, Director, DAR Office of Communications
Marguerite Ingalls-Jones, Director, Alumni Relations
Christopher Dax, Director, Annual Giving

-Communications and marketing channels
-University alumni outreach and campaigns
-Developing brand and reputation with alumni

DAY 3: Wednesday, April 2

Morning site visit to American University; afternoon series of speakers at IIE, and Midweek debrief

American University (AU), Washington, DC

9:30-10:00am Welcome and Introductions
Teresa Flannery, Vice President, Communications
10:00-10:30am                    Marketing and Recruitment: AU’s Wonk Campaign Team
Kerry O’Leary
, Writer
Trevor Blake, Senior Designer
Jamie Hardin, Marketing Account Manager
Sarah Lieberman, Marketing Account Manager
Matt Frederick, Director, University Video

-Content production: publications and video
-Information visualization and storytelling

10:30-11:30am                    Meeting with Marketing and Publications Group:
Introduction to University Communications
Kevin Grasty, Assistant Vice-President, Publications
Julie Zito, Assistant Vice-President, Marketing
Camille Lepre, Assistant Vice President, Communications

-Strategic goals and priorities for marketing
-Evaluation and success of marketing

11:45am-1:00pm Lunch with Schools and Colleges Marketing Directors
Jacqueline Zajac, Kogod School of Business
Jacqueline Linde, School of Public Affairs
Sharmeen Ahsan-Bracciale, School of Communications
Mary Schellinger, College of Arts and Sciences
Joseph Navatto, School of International Service

-University substrategies

1:30-2:30pm Current Issues in Higher Education
Ian Wilhelm, Chronicle of Higher Education

-Higher education media narratives

2:30-3:30pm Media Training and Crisis Communications: The Role of Consultants
Alaina Goldense, The Communication Center
Dean Jones, Executive Communication Coach, President and CEO The Communication Center

-Media Training; Crisis Communications; Role of Consultants

3:30-4:30pm  University Federal Relations: Lobbying for Education
William Bonvillian, Director, Washington Office
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

-Communications and lobbying on Capitol Hill

4:30-5:30pm Midweek Debrief
Facilitator: Terhi Mölsä, Executive Director, Fulbright Center Finland

DAY 4: Thursday, April 3

Morning visit to George Washington University; afternoon visit to the University of Maryland; closing dinner

George Washington University (GWU), Washington, DC                  

  Breakfast courtesy of George Washington University
9:00-9:10am Welcome and Introductions
9:10-9:40am  Overview of the External Relations Division
9:40-10:40am Briefing on Branding Efforts
Sarah Baldassaro, Associate Vice President for Communications
Leah Rosen, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Jin Chon, Assistant Vice President for Strategic Communications

-Campus constituencies and identity
-Brand creation and management

10:40-11:10am                    Discussion
11:10-11:30am                    Visit to campus bookstore
- Observation of branding and logo usage in merchandising
11:45-1:00pm Lunch

University of Maryland (UMD), College Park, Maryland

2:00-3:00pm Community Relations: Bridging the Town/Gown Gap
Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, Director of Community Engagement

-Outreach in the local community
-Student service projects

3:00-5:00pm  Student Journalists: UMD’s Campus News Bureaus and Facilities
David Ottalini, Communications Director, Philip Merrill College of Journalism

-Student participation and channels for news and information
-Internal communications channels

6:30pm          Closing Dinner
The Hamilton, Washington, DC

DAY 5: Friday, April 4

Morning visit to George Mason University, final debrief


George Mason University (GMU), Fairfax, Virginia

8:30-9:00am Arrival and Morning Refreshments, courtesy of George Mason University
9:00-11:15am Planning, Coordination and Implementation
Michael Sadler, Strategic Communications
Sarah Seeberg, Art Director, Creative Services
Catherine “Punky” Scruggs, Brand Manager

-Services to university members
-Coordinating strategies across campus

11:15-11:30am                    Break
11:30 -12:00pm Student-led Campus Tour
12:00-1:15pm Lunch at Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel
1:15-2:30pm Final Debrief and Group Discussion
Facilitator: Terhi Mölsä, Executive Director, Fulbright Center Finland