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2023 Conference Schedule

Wednesday, June 7

Opening Lunch and Kickoff: Noon to 2 p.m.

Persian Terrace

Conference Welcome: 1 p.m.

Plenary 1: Presidential Panel: A (SUNY) Blue-Ribbon Roundtable, 1:15 p.m.

  • Dr. Erik J. Bitterbaum, President, SUNY Cortland
  • Dr. Warren Hilton, President, Onondaga Community College
  • Joanie Mahoney, President, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Dr. Harvey Stenger, President, Binghamton University
  • Moderator: Lane Filler, Chief Communications Officer, SUNY System Administration

Break: 2:10 to 2:30 p.m., Carnival Big Top

Breakout Session 1: 2:30 to 3:20 p.m.

Session 1: Presenters and Summaries

Advancement Services Alumni & Events

Building a CX (Constituent Experience) Practice in Higher Ed

Canandaigua Room
Brooke Carroll, Assistant Vice President of Constituent Experience
Stony Brook University

Session Summary: Integrating Constituent Experience into your Advancement department is about more than just renaming your PowerPoint slides. To turn CX from the latest leadership buzzword into an actionable practice at your institution, you need to discard your traditional, organization-based approach and start thinking about what your constituents want, need and care about. In this discussion, we’ll talk about what CX actually looks like in practice, and how to approach advancement from the perspective of your constituents’ goals and priorities.

Marketing, Communications & Graphic Design

Creating strategic videos to score big with students, families and donors

Hemlock Room
Frederic Pierce, Communications Director, SUNY Cortland
Elin Barton, Founder and President, White Knight Productions
Rich Coyne, Associate Vice President, Institutional Advancement, SUNY Cortland

Session Summary: When the New York Yankees asked SUNY Cortland to play Cortaca, its legendary rivalry football game against Ithaca College, in Yankee stadium last fall, the advancement team was challenged to make the absolute most of the event’s mind-boggling marketing potential. We did so by teaming with White Knight Productions to create a series of cost-effective, repurposable videos, each aimed at specific audiences and for a specific goal. The result was positive exposure extending far beyond the 41,000 fans in attendance that contributed to this year’s record number of student applications, deepened relationships with donors and alumni, and dramatically raised the university’s public profile. During the week leading up to the game, our fundraising video helped raise more than $285,000 in a giving challenge with Ithaca. This presentation will explain the strategic decisions at the core of the project and the creative collaboration that made them a reality.


SUNY Microcredentials, Moving from the Tea Cups and Onto the Big Rides

Conesus Room
Cynthia Proctor, Director of Communications & Academic Policy Development
SUNY System Administration

Session Summary: SUNY’s microcredential program has grown significantly in the past 18 months, moving from 112 microcredentials at 20 campuses in 2020 to over 500 microcredentials at 36 campuses today, and continued growth is expected. This movement is in response to increasing demand from business & industry, current and prospective students, SUNY employees, alumni and a recognition that microcredentials can be a key tool to attract adult learners. With each step forward, SUNY is solidifying its role as a state, national and international leader in microcredentials. Key to the strategic growth of all campus programs, and the focus of this session, is the need for a marketing and public relations infrastructure that provides easy and clear access to microcredential information and registration, that supports the power of microcredentials to serve multiple audiences, and that builds capacity to develop new partnerships that drive enrollment and new microcredential development. This session will provide a System and individual campus lens on best practices and effective strategies, common missteps, challenges and opportunities. Participants will receive a framework template relevant to all no matter where they are on their microcredential journey — from the teacups to the big rides!

Development / Fundraising

Worth the Ride: Improving Donor Engagement Through Student Success

Owasco Room
Christyn Sanagursky, Director of Development, Monroe Community College
Ariez Vanderpool, Student, SUNY Cortland

Session Summary: Do you wish you had an easier time making meaningful connections between scholarship recipients and donors? Have you felt frustration and disappointment when you see that some scholarship recipients still don’t have enough resources to meet their educational goals? Christyn will share the inspiration behind the role of Scholarship Coach, how the role has evolved, and stories of student success. In addition, MCC and SUNY Cortland alumna Ariez Vanderpool (2021/2023) will share her unique perspective on the experience. Attendees will learn:

  • How investing in student well-being creates rapport that leads to persistence and completion.
  • The benefits of investing in a ‘whole-student’ approach and how it supports donor engagement.
  • An alumna’s perspective on working with a Scholarship Coach.
  • How positive relationships with on-campus success coaches support fundraising efforts.
Leadership and Professional Development

Walk Before You Can Run: Feasible First Steps Toward DEIB Practice

Keuka Room
Lexy Rivera, Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations
SUNY Maritime

Session Summary: Are you committed to developing or expanding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) practices at your institution? Are you looking to take those first steps toward a more inclusive community? Through a combination lens of identity discovery and the dance theory of Bartenieff Fundamentals, participants will be guided through the process of initiating every day DEIB practice for individuals, teams and the institutional community at large. Participants will leave with practical tips on how to “walk” so their communities can “run.”

Break: 3:20 to 3:45 p.m., Carnival Big Top

Breakout Session 2: 3:45 to 4:35 p.m.

Session 2: Presenters and Summaries

Leadership and Professional Development

The Power of Wild Card Ideas: Creative Brainstorming Techniques to Generate Innovative Dialogue and Ideas

Keuka Room
Jamie Miller, Assistant Director for Development, SUNY Morrisville

Alumni and Events

Going… Going… Gone!

Hemlock Room
Erin Boylan, Executive Director of Alumni Engagement
Natasha McFadden, Director of The Cortland Fund
Jonah Reardon, Associate Director of Alumni Engagement
SUNY Cortland

Session Summary: Steinbrenner just called, and your university is about to dive into what could become the largest alumni gathering of all time. Learn how to crush out a homerun utilizing the BIG opportunity to engage alumni and increase annual giving participation without additional staff and budget. Join us as we share our adventures at Yankee Stadium and MetLife Stadium.

Social/Digital Media Tips for Maximizing Your Website’s First Year

Conesus Room
Meg Keniston, Executive Director of Content Strategy
Esena Jackson, Director, Web and Digital Communications
Hamilton College

Session Summary: Website redesigns happen in phases and come with a variety of milestones, all culminating in one big target end date. Excitement abounds (anxiety, too!) as launch day approaches, and before you know it the website is live. Congrats! The big red circle on the calendar is in the rearview. Except now you’ve entered a new phase – one that’s just as critical yet often among the most unplanned or even neglected parts of the process. What needs to happen next? And how do you know that all your work is – well, working? Since Hamilton College launched its new website in May 2022, the Communications and Marketing team has dug deep into data and honed its content and web strategies to provide informative and entertaining experiences that inform audiences and inspire them to act. Session attendees will come away with ideas of what to focus on after launch, a variety of strategies and tactics they can implement regardless of where they are in the lifecycle of their website or redesign process, and takeaways that anyone whose work touches their institution’s website will find value in.

Social/Digital Media

Designing Blue-Ribbon Content for Social Media

Owasco Room
Katie Flanagan, Graphic Designer, Digital & Print Production
SUNY Cobleskill

Session Summary: It’s no secret that social media is an ever-changing landscape and important place to meet prospective students, their families, alumni, and partners. It can be hard to keep up with all the trends and sift through the advice, but there are a few things that you can do that will consistently result in good design. This session will delve into the best practices for design unique to the social media space, so that whether you’re an Illustrator whiz or Canva newbie, your content will stand out from the crowd.

Development / Fundraising

Small Shops, Significant Results: Achievable & Affordable Strategies to Enhance & Expand Fundraising

Keuka Room
Cathy Abashian Williams, Executive Director, SUNY BCC Foundation, Inc.
Lisa Schappert, Senior Director of Development and Alumni Relations, SUNY Broome

Session Summary: This session will highlight potential tactics and campaign activities to increase fundraising and enhance engagement outcomes for colleges and universities, regardless of size. Presenters will share concrete examples of how SUNY Broome is achieving continued fundraising success with an annual Giving Day campaign, a Student Philanthropy program, a Faculty & Staff Campaign, and a small planned giving program. The most successful development operations keep donor relationships front and center. Creating more opportunities to connect can ensure meaningful ‘full-circle’ experiences with an organization’s most loyal donors. This session will provide different and affordable examples that SUNY Broome employs to increase success.

Reception: 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Carnival Big Top
Come one, come all! Test your skills at our games of chance – and win prizes! Interact with caricature artists, conference sponsors, and other “side show attractions,” while you enjoy beverages, hors d’oeuvres and classic fair treats. A good time will be had by all!

Plenary 2 and Dinner: 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Persian Terrace

Keynote Speaker: Ian Rosenblum, Senior Vice Chancellor of Policy Implementation and Chief of Staff, SUNY

SUNYCUAD Hall of Fame induction:

Dan Doyle, SUNYCUAD President, 2015-16
Senior Director of Annual Giving, University at Albany

Scott Titus, SUNYCUAD President 2017-18
Marketing Director at Usherwood Office Technology;
Former Director of Marketing & New Media at Onondaga Community College

Thursday, June 8

Breakfast with Your Disciplines: 8 to 9 a.m.

Persian Terrace
Join colleagues who do what you do at other campuses to discuss best practices and share ideas!

Plenary 3: 9 to 10 a.m.
Groomed to Win: The public-private partnership that brought Micron’s $100 billion plan to Central New York

Persian Terrace

  • Robert M. Simpson, President, CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity
  • Anastasia Urtz, Provost and Senior Vice President, Onondaga Community College

Session Summary: Computer chip manufacturer Micron Technology announced last fall that it has chosen the greater Syracuse region to make a $100 billion investment with up to 9,000 jobs in the region. The project is also expected to bring another 40,000 supply-chain and construction jobs to the area. Join this case study to meet the key players who made this happen; the key role higher education and workforce development will play in its success; and advice on how you can play a role in similar opportunities in your communities.

Break: 10 to 10:20 a.m., Carnival Big Top

10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
VP/CAO Working Session

Cayuga Room

Breakout Session 3: 10:20 to 11:10 a.m.

Session 3: Presenters and Summaries

Advancement Services Alumni & Events

Leveraging What You Have (And Good News, It’s a Lot!)

Canandaigua Room
Jennifer Silverman-Van Treese, Director of Donor Recognition Programs
University at Buffalo

Session Summary: In this presentation, I will discuss how to leverage your resources as an educational institution to enhance your engagement and deepen relationships with donors and prospects. I’ll help you bring research and scholarly activity to life in a way that feels innovative, yet not intimidating. Together, we’ll explore ways that the University at Buffalo has created memorable and meaningful experiences through resource driven events and activities that keep donors engaged and continuing the conversation. I’ll discuss opportunities such as Virtual Book Clubs, Virtual Wine Tastings, Podcasts, and maximizing campus activities such as gallery tours, performances and workshops. I hope you will join in the discussion. I would love to hear what works for your school!

Media/Government/PR Social/Digital Media

The Power of AI: Transforming Marketing, Public Relations, SEO and More!

Hemlock Room
Jessica Stallone, Director of Communications and Strategy
Rockland Community College

Session Summary: Rockland Community College’s Marketing Department has recently incorporated cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enhance their writing quality and efficiency, particularly for public relations and SEO-friendly web pages. This innovative technology utilizes successful marketing language patterns to make language more engaging and enticing, while also ensuring polished final products through grammar and editing checks. ChatGPT and Yoast are being utilized to optimize website language, boosting search engine optimization (SEO) for the college’s web pages, thereby increasing traffic to their website. This AI technology is also being applied across all forms of communication, from grant writing to event descriptions and email communications, to streamline processes, save time and resources, and ensure effective, polished communication. The Marketing Department is also leveraging AI in customer service communications to improve response time and accuracy, leading to increased customer satisfaction and contributing to the college’s overall success. This presentation will showcase the integration of AI in the Marketing Department at Rockland Community College, which has proven to be a game-changer, contributing to the success of the institution.

Development / Fundraising

Use Digital Extensions to Extend Your Magazine Shelf Life

Conesus Room
Melissa Fry, Senior Associate Director of Development Communications
Stuart Seidel, Assistant Director of Annual Giving, Creative/Marketing
University of Albany

Session Summary: Learn how three years of prioritizing the digital direction of UAlbany Magazine is helping to grow our readership base and engage audiences despite shrinking budgets and attention spans. We’ll share the planning and design process for the digital extensions of the print issue, including examples of website, social media and video content published between the issues, and how the UAlbany Magazine team is finding innovative ways to keep our content fresh and relevant beyond our bi-annual printed issues. This session is for anyone looking to enhance the online presence of your institution’s printed magazine. We’ll share ideas, big and small, so that you too can create digital magazine content worthy of a blue ribbon at the county fair!

Alumni and Events

“I See You” Series: Fostering relationships among BIPOC Alumni and Students

Owasco Room
Jonah Reardon, Associate Director of Alumni Engagement
Jacob Wright, Career Coach and Educator
Katrina Hodge, Assistant Director of Multicultural Life
SUNY Cortland

Session Summary: “Representation matters!” Expanding beyond your standard alumni and career services panel, the “I See You: BIPOC Alumni in Predominately White Occupations” series provides our students an opportunity to connect with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color) alumni who are currently working in careers that are known to be predominately White. Establishing an inclusive environment, alumni panelist are able to discuss the experiences, challenges and successes they have had in their respective fields, leading to an open-discussion with students, who are able to ask questions among alumni with similar lived experiences. “I See You” embraces institutional and SUNY values while also fostering meaningful engagement with alumni from historically underrepresented identities. This series is a collaboration between Careers Services, Multicultural Life and Diversity and Alumni Engagement.

Government Relations Session

Keuka Room
Megan Toohey, Director of Government Relations
Jordan Nicholson, Director of Community Relations/Deputy Director of State Relations
University at Buffalo

Break: 11:10 to 11:30 a.m., Carnival Big Top

Breakout Session 4: 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

Session 4: Presenters and Summaries

Advancement Services

Building a Data-Informed Culture using Power BI

Canandaigua Room
Chris Smith, Assistant Vice President for College Advancement
SUNY Geneseo

Session Summary: The best-kept secret at most SUNY institutions is the most powerful tool for data exploration and presentation. Microsoft Power BI is included at no additional charge with most site licenses. In this session, you’ll learn some basic concepts about and best practices for data visualization. We’ll discuss the difference between data exploration and data presentation, and review examples of both kinds of dashboards used at SUNY Geneseo. While many of these concepts will apply to any data visualization tool, including Tableau, we’ll go a little deeper into how to employ Power BI to help build or expand upon a data-informed culture at your institution.

Marketing, Communications & Graphic Design

Graphic Design Case Study: Transform your campus with a Wayfinding and Signage Strategic Plan

Hemlock Room
John Heiser, Director of Creative Services and SUNYCUAD Hall of Fame Member
Hudson Valley Community College

Session Summary: Learn how to take your aging dysfunctional campus signage program from an unmanaged eyesore to the crowning jewels of your campus. Hudson Valley Community College will share their process of discovery for overhauling campus wayfinding and signage with a $1M+ two-year project. Design, bidding, construction and brand guidelines will all be discussed.

Development / Fundraising

How SUNY endowments can replicate the investment success of multi-billion-dollar endowments

Conesus Room
Andrea LaGatta, Assistant Vice President for Development, SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Nick Botticelli, Chief Investment Strategist, Global Strategic Investment Solutions
Matt Underwood, Director of Research and Portfolio Management, Global Strategic Investment Solutions

Session Summary: SUNY Polytechnic Institute has worked effectively with Global Strategic Investment Solutions in improving the success of its endowment. Join a discussion of methods by which the endowment investment portfolios of SUNY institutions can utilize many of the same strategies as the nation’s largest university endowments funds to improve risk-adjusted returns.


Get into the Ring: Giving Your Research Stories a Fighting Chance

Owasco Room
Rachel Coker, Director, Research Advancement, Binghamton University
Greg Kie, Senior Media Relations Manager, SUNY Canton

Session Summary: This presentation will showcase esteemed educators’ diverse and impressive research and highlight how two writers tackle promoting innovations spanning various disciplines at their respective colleges. Key takeaways will include determining how to identify research and scholarship in addition to sighting in spot news and enterprise features. Ultimately, college writers are the representatives for end readers, who probably don’t know anything at all about the subject matter.

Leadership and Professional Development / Marketing & Communications

The Art of the Twirling Smile: Remaining Calm and Being Successful in Higher Ed Communications

Keuka Room
Danielle Kobryn, Executive Director of Strategic Marketing
Rockland Community College

Session Summary: In this session, Danielle will share strategies and skills she learned through a childhood of performing that she applies to her professional career in higher education communications and marketing. Hear about specific work experiences and projects where she’s been able to apply these strategies and skills. And learn how to develop and perfect your own version of the “twirling smile” in your professional career!

Best In Show: SUNYCUAD Awards for Excellence (and Lunch): 12:20 to 1:40 p.m.

Persian Terrace

Break: 1:40 to 2 p.m., Carnival Big Top

Plenary 4: 2 to 3 p.m.
Alright stop, collaborate and listen! (Syracuse University Advancement Team Panel)

Persian Terrace

  • Jess Finley, Executive Director, Donor Relations
  • Kim Infanti, Executive Director, Digital Engagement and Communications, Office of Alumni Engagement
  • Amy McCoy, Director of Marketing Strategy for Advancement, Division of Marketing
  • Ali Jackson Popp, Director, Philanthropic Engagement Communications
  • Kara Tompkins, Executive Director, Philanthropic Engagement
  • Camille Tisdel, Director of Web Services, Advancement and External Affairs

Moderator: Chris Velardi, Director, Digital Engagement and Communications, Office of Alumni Engagement

Session Summary: Do you ever wish you could tackle advancement projects more effectively and break down silos across teams? Join us for a conversation with colleagues from Syracuse University’s advancement and marketing divisions. They’ll discuss how evolving processes are fostering better collaboration among Syracuse’s alumni engagement, philanthropic engagement, donor relations, web services and marketing strategy teams. Whether you’re putting together a small-scale project or enterprise-level event, this cohort will have some success stories and insights to share!

Break: 3 to 3:10 p.m.

Plenary 5: 3:10 to 4:00 p.m.
Putting On a Show for the Ages

Persian Terrace
Sean Hennessey, Interim Director, The Great New York State Fair
Alice Maggiore, Associate Director of Public Information, The Great New York State Fair

Session summary: Have you ever wondered what goes into putting on The Great New York State Fair? Its parallels to our higher ed world are enormous! Each year, a small-but-mighty team books all the vendors and performers, creates a schedule, directs the marketing and publicity, and pursues development opportunities, all while navigating the political waters inherent in a decades-old, state-owned property/venue. Add in the maintenance of 50 buildings, 20,000 parking spots, 375-acres and roughly 2 million visitors annually, and you’re sure to learn a thing or two from these master marketers, fundraisers and event planners!

Reception: 4:00 to 6 p.m.

Carnival Big Top
Come back for another round of fun before your evening gets underway. In addition to the games, attractions hors d’oeuvres and treats from the night before, there will be a special contest you won’t want to miss. We promise y’all, it’ll be “loads” of fun!

6 p.m.: Dinner and Nightlife

Network in downtown Syracuse with colleagues old and new. Connect with attendees at restaurants and other establishments throughout the evening and continue your conversations. Some venues are even offering discounts/promos for conference attendees! Your conference team can assist with restaurant sign-ups / connections at the registration desk, and a summary of recommended options are available on the conference app!

Friday, June 9

Breakfast with Your Disciplines: 8:30 to 9:15 a.m.

Finger Lakes Ballroom
Join colleagues who do what you do at other campuses to discuss best practices and share ideas!

Breakout Session 5: 9:15 to 10:05 a.m.

Session 6: Presenters and Summaries

Development / Fundraising

Leadership Giving Societies: Recognize Your Most Generous Donors, Build a Culture of Philanthropy, and Raise More Money

Canandaigua Room
Justin Berger, Associate Athletic Director for Development
Andrea Lebedinski, Director of Seawolves United
Stony Brook University

Session Summary: In fall 2021, Stony Brook Athletics identified a need for high-level recognition and stewardship for its most generous donors. To meet this goal, the John Ramsey Leadership Society was born. One year later, the outcomes have far exceeded the typical benefits of a new stewardship plan. In this presentation, we’ll discuss how the Ramsey Leadership Society came to be, and the many benefits Stony Brook Athletics has seen since its inception: an improved culture of philanthropy within the department, increased engagement with its most generous donors, a multitude of new major gift commitments, and much more!

Public/Media/Government Relations

Everything I Know about Higher Ed Marcom, I Learned at the NYS Fair

Hemlock Room
Frederic Pierce, Director of Communications
SUNY Cortland

Session Summary: When Fred Pierce left a two-decade career in journalism to become public relations director for the New York State Fair, he went from exposing shady politicians one day to shilling for the Empire State’s largest annual event and managing a $1 million marketing budget the next. His three years at the Fair were a crash course in crisis communications, managing public perception during state investigations into administrative corruption, backlash from new reforms, allegations of human trafficking and the cancellation of a sold-out Justin Bieber concert the night before the show. At the same time, he was tasked with increasing Fair attendance during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. This presentation will show how lessons learned at the Fair translated into successful management of similar challenges at SUNY Cortland and informed marketing and communication efforts that helped raise Cortland’s profile and maintain strong enrollment despite significant challenges.

Development / Fundraising

Stop Spending Dollar Time on Penny Tasks!

Conesus Room
Mark Pastorella, Associate Vice President Development, Monroe Community College
Betheny Reid, CEO and Principal, Betheny L. Reid & Associates

Session Summary: We know the giving pyramid (and our experience) tells us 10-20% of our donors contribute 80-90% of our giving yet we spend 80-90% (or more!) of our time on activity that rarely delivers major gifts or deepens relationships with those who can (and want) to be major contributors.

Public/Media/Government Relations

What’s news: The expansion and evolution of storytelling in the digital age

Owasco Room
Tim Nekritz, Director of News and Media
SUNY Oswego

Session Summary: When Tim Nekritz started in higher ed [number redacted] years ago, the public affairs job mainly involved writing press releases and items for a (print) newsletter. Flash forward to 2023, and those responsibilities include leading a digital newsroom, preparing a daily e-newsletter, continuously evolving a social media strategy and assembling a team of student storytellers. Hear about how changes in technology, tactics and student skills dovetailed into an expanded role for storytelling beyond news and into the realm of daily communication, marketing and much more.

Social/Digital Media

A Communications Study with The Street Team: Increasing Student Engagement

Keuka Room
Amanda Feeney, Student Communications Team Manager
Rockland Community College

Session Summary: Rockland Community College was looking to better engage their community by encouraging students to open their emails, follow its social media channels, and visit its events calendar webpage. Looking to do something different and creative, our marketing department turned to the group who would know this audience best: our students. “The Street Team,” our student marketing team, was tasked with creating a communications plan to promote these resources among their peers. In this session, we will discuss how the Street Team brainstormed and conceptualized a plan called, “It’s That Easy.” From designing flyers to creating scavenger hunts, the team increased email open rates, social media followings and calendar page visits. While some methods were non-traditional, we learned quickly how important it is to trust our student voices, engage our student body, and help bring a little life back to campus in a post-Covid world.

Break: 10:05 to 10:20 a.m., Carnival Big Top

Closing Plenary: 10:20 to 11:10 a.m.

Finger Lakes Ballroom

A View from the Top: Understanding the Biggest Issues Affecting SUNY Today
Scott Jaschik, Co-Founder and Editor, Inside Higher Ed

It’s fun to ride the Ferris Wheel. The gentle rising and falling offer breathtaking views and thrilling emotions. But even the best of us eventually get sick if we go around and around too much. Scott Jaschik is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed and the former editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. He has decades of experience leading editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. He is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted and published regularly in publications nationwide such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. Scott will share his perspective on many pressing issues facing the SUNY system and public higher education today, offering insights on how we can stop going in circles.

11:10 to 11:30 a.m.: Closing Remarks, Prizes Awarded, 2024 Conference Planning
Conference Adjourns