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We are thrilled to offer attendees more than 50 presentations this year — including many topics that we proactively sought as a direct result of your feedback!  Hear from experts representing more than 40 campuses and organizations, including such universities as Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Clarkson, Colgate, Cornell, Fordham, Rochester, Stony Brook, and more.

Attire is business casual for all sessions.


12 – 1 p.m.:  Registration and Lunch

1 – 2 p.m.: Conference Kickoff

Opening Plenary Session: The Role of Philanthropy and Communications in Research Today

Dexter A. Bailey, Jr., Sr. Vice President, University Advancement;

Robert Harrison, Ph.D., Founding Director and Endowed Chair, Institute for Advanced Computational Science
Stony Brook University

Join a thought-provoking discussion about how philanthropy has impacted the notable work of Stony Brook University professors Robert Harrison, director of the Institute for Advanced Computational Science and Kenneth Dill, director of the Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology. Moderated by Dexter A. Bailey, Jr., senior vice president for Advancement, the discussion will address how philanthropy inspired both professors to join Stony Brook University and how it has enabled their scientific discoveries and engineering designs including advanced simulation, modern approaches to artificial intelligence, and complex modeling including for drug efficacy. They will also discuss strengthening interdisciplinary collaboration across campus including the arts and humanities, and the importance of presidential leadership, effective marketing and communications, managing donor expectations and the strategic deployment of limited University funding.

2 – 2:30 p.m.: Break

2:30 – 3:20 p.m.: Concurrent Session 1


Track: Alumni Relations

Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow: How to Successfully Implement a Student/Alumni Engagement Program

Teresa Planty, Director of Alumni Relations
Clarkson University

Come learn how Clarkson University developed an alumni-led workshop series to help current students learn professional development skills. Students are a captive audience for four years. Make sure you are making the most of their time on campus! Instill the values you want them to uphold as alumni and teach them what it means to truly be connected and engaged. Not only did this program provide students with the opportunity to expand their network, but it also provided a valuable platform for major gift prospects to immerse themselves in campus life through a meaningful volunteer opportunity.


Track: Communications & Marketing

Class Notes Reimagined

Fred Pierce, Director of Communications, SUNY Cortland
Erin Boylan, Executive Director, Cortland College Alumni Association, Inc.

The most popular feature in your alumni magazine is probably also the most unprofessional, inaccurate, frustrating and staff-despised. We’ll show you how SUNY Cortland communications, alumni engagement and development teams collaborated to change that. By re-purposing project management software they built a system that generates news, engages alumni, creates goodwill and continually updates alumni data files. The workload is fairly distributed, published information is vetted and professionally edited and congratulations letters are generated in a consistent and timely manner. Since adopting this system a year ago, the number of class notes in Cortland’s alumni magazine has increased by 45 percent. Many of the additions had not been in touch since graduation.


Track: Professional Development

The Rise, Adaptation and Importance of Athletic Development

 Edward Kull, Sr. Director of Development
Fordham University

Especially for SUNY schools, this presentation will explore the need to elevate the importance and success of Athletics as it relates to Advancement, and the need for increased Fundraising efforts. 


Track: Development / Fundraising

From the Starting Gate to the Finish Line: The Story Behind the MCC Foundation’s Largest Gift

Mark Pastorella, Chief Development Officer, and
Karen Shaw, Alumni and Annual Giving Coordinator,
Monroe Community College Foundation

Learn the story behind the cultivation of a Monroe Community College alumnus that resulted in the largest gift in MCC’s history.

Track: Development / Fundraising

University at Albany: Year Two of our Corporate Engagement Journey

Terri Scalise Roller, Director of Corporate Engagement
University at Albany

A Corporate Engagement model allows an institution to provide tailored, specific opportunities to corporations who are trying to do more with fewer dollars while maximizing their relationship with colleges and universities. The University at Albany has been actively implementing a corporate engagement model campus-wide for the past two years. This session will review the concept and share UAlbany’s progress since the program’s inception more than two years ago. Information on our progress with benchmarking, using scorecards to rank corporate partners, social media and other communication strategies will be shared.

Track: Social / Digital Media

I’ll Bring the Bagels: Encouraging Community and Student Success Through Facebook Groups for Parents of First-Year Students

Betsy Aldredge, Media Relations Specialist
Paige DeMaio, Digital/Social Media Manager

SUNY Purchase

It’s no secret that many parents are becoming more and more involved with their students’ academic careers — for better or for worse. This workshop will discuss how Purchase College’s social media team, with the help of colleagues in admissions and student life, helped harness parents’ desire to be involved and informed into a vibrant online community that helped support students’ well-being and academic success throughout their first year in college. We’ll have a candid discussion about what it takes to get a parents’ group off the ground, how the group inspired friendships among students and parents, how it helped alleviate fear during crisis situations, and other lessons learned along the way.

Track: Multi-Discipline

Working with Generous Hearts

Anna Schlia, Doctoral Student, Senior Director of Advancement
University of Rochester

Explore the latest research and trends related to #DonorLove, engagement fundraising, and identity-based motivation. Good stewardship meets donors where they are and engages them in meaningful ways. You’ll take away fresh relationship-building strategies that will delight your donors.

Track: Multi-Discipline

CAO Session

A three-hour strategic planning session exclusively for Chief Advancement Officers. By invitation only.

3:40 – 4:30 p.m.: Concurrent Session 2 

Track: Alumni Relations

Defining Why Your Alumni Association Truly Exists

Lee Serravillo, Executive Director
University of Albany Alumni Association

Tony Fala, Sr. Relationship Manager, and
Jeffrey Jones, Manager, Member Experience Network
Nationwide Insurance

Creating an exceptional alumni experience begins with taking a hard look at your organization and asking why you exist. Most alumni organizations assume they exist to serve and engage their alumni base by connecting alumni with each other and the institution they love. This is an interactive workshop in which Alumni Associations define and refine their Why statements. 

Track: Communications & Marketing

Building the Communications Pipeline with Public Funding Agencies to Amplify Sponsored Research News 

Greg Filiano, Media Relations Manager
Stony Brook University

At Stony Brook University, we are taking a novel approach to communicate science and amplify research news. This presentation will cover how, by communicating with and sharing press materials with communications colleagues at federal funding agencies that support specific Stony Brook research (i.e., NIH, NSF, DOE, NASA), we are adding value to our communications initiatives and reinforcing the decision by those agencies to fund Stony Brook University research.

Track: Professional Development

Finding Harmony in Work and Life — With a Job that Doesn’t Turn Off

Matthew Colson, Executive Director of Alumni Relations
Stony Brook University

Finding time for your family, work, and leisure time can be challenging in the lives we live in higher education. It’s difficult to do it all. Not only is achieving a healthy work/life balance an attainable goal, but workers and businesses alike see the rewards. In this presentation, practical steps, tips and secrets will be shared that we can all take to loosen the grip that stress has on us and re-establish the balance we need to thrive and be happy.

Track: Development / Fundraising

…And Down the Stretch They Come! Bringing Your Campaign to a Successful Close

Mark Pastorella, Chief Development Officer
Christyn Sanagursky, Associate Director of Development
Monroe Community College Foundation

The Monroe Community College Foundation development team is closing the gap to reaching its $50 million, “Every Bright Future Needs a Strong Foundation” campaign goal. Members will share some of the strategies used to get them to the homestretch.

Track: Development / Fundraising

Breaking Down the Barriers and Developing a Culture of Philanthropy with Those Who Matter

Lisa Sandick, Program Director, Special Events and Sponsorships
Erica Marks, Vice President, Development & Alumni Relations
SUNY New Paltz

Creating a culture of philanthropy, where the community is intentionally engaged and participates as a partner with your institution, is essential to building long-term relationships. As advancement professionals, we can break down barriers between the community and college by engaging the busiest, most elusive individuals. In the spirit of neighborly collaboration, the Hudson Valley Future Summit at SUNY New Paltz was introduced to facilitate productive conversations with a diverse group of engaged people — all of whom are invested in the success of the region. With SUNY New Paltz serving as the hub, the Summit attracted pro bono speakers, multiplied opportunities for making high-level connections, and introduced new possibilities for philanthropic support. From concept to execution, we’ll interactively explore the fundamentals of starting or growing a comparable cultivation event with prospective donors willing to donate their time and talent, which ultimately can turn into ‘treasure’ for your school. We’ll also discuss tips for recruiting a well-connected committee of community thought leaders (a.k.a., Future Fellows) to help guide the structure, format, and theme of a similar program, and enhance opportunities to create a stronger culture of philanthropy at your university. This program also builds connectivity among your campus community.

Track: Social / Digital Media

Doing More with Less: Utilizing User-Generated Content to Supplement Your Social Strategy

Danielle Collins, Assistant Director of Communications
The College at Old Westbury

Institutions, regardless of size, need to develop and utilize social media to communicate with their target audiences. However, not all communications departments are suited to take up the task effectively or strategically due to lack of resources. One way to supplement this shortcoming is through user-generated content. This presentation will provide an overview of the power and importance of user-generated content, how to find it, and how to properly use it as a time-saving but strategic tool.

Track: Multi-Discipline

Creating an In-house Creative Services Agency

Casey Lumbra, Senior Creative Manager for Marketing and Creative Services
Sabrina Coulombe, Graphic Designer
Cherie Haughney, Copywriter
SUNY Empire State College

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could turn to an in-house team of marketing professionals who know your brand, prospects, and marketing opportunities and challenges? In recent years many public and private institutions have made the switch from costly external agencies to well-staffed in-house agencies. Learn how the SUNY Empire State College Marketing and Creative Services team transformed from a basic production office to a full-fledged, award-winning in-house agency. 

Track: Multi-Discipline

CAO Session

A three-hour strategic planning session exclusively for Chief Advancement Officers. By invitation only.

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.: Break

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.: Reception

6:30 p.m.: Dinner and Presentations

Breaking Through the Starting Gate: Ready to Face Any Challenge

Cate M. Johnson, Acting Director
National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame

Cate Johnson will discuss the many marketing, communication and development challenges involved in running one of the most beautiful and unique museums and halls of fame — and one whose members comprise two different species!

Educator of the Year Recipient: To Be Announced

 SUNYCUAD Hall of Fame Induction: Rhea Chase



8 – 9 a.m.: Breakfast with colleagues from your discipline

Join colleagues from your practice areas in discussing new ideas, issues and concerns that affect your jobs and teams.

9 – 10 a.m.: Plenary Session: Bridging a Growing Divide

Karin Fischer, Senior Reporter
The Chronicle of Higher Education

In a country beset by partisan divisions, higher education, too, faces growing public mistrust. Is this a new normal, or can colleges regain public support? Karin Fischer covers the business of international education and the globalization of higher education, including competition for foreign students, activities by American colleges overseas, policies and programs that affect the international activities of American colleges, and the internationalization of the college experience.

10 – 10:20 a.m.: Break

10:20 – 11:10 a.m.: Concurrent Session 3

Track: Alumni Relations

Creating a high-impact alumni mentoring program

Rhiannon Da Cunha, Alumni Engagement Coordinator
SUNY Morrisville

The benefits of establishing an alumni/student mentoring program extends to students, alumni and beyond, to the overall prosperity and credibility of the college. This presentation will break down and discuss the steps to creating a high impact mentoring program that meets the goals of encouraging student enrichment, expanding alumni engagement and forming lasting and meaningful relationships with the college. Through careful examination of our own pilot alumni/student mentoring program, this presentation will focus on which components and endeavors proved successful, and which required further improvement. From the formation of recruiting documents to structured manuals, thoughtful matchmaking and appropriate discussion topics, the presentation will demonstrate how to ‘write-up’ a successful program and execute it effectively. Lastly, we will demonstrate how mentoring programs can be exceptional recruitment and retention tools for colleges.

Track: Communications & Marketing

Hate Speech on Campus: A Response Trifecta

Rosanna Yule, Assistant Director, Marketing & Community Relations
Monroe Community College

From the moment a post appears on social media, a hate speech incident at your institution can have a lasting impact. How community relations professionals work together and with college administrators to respond to hate speech on campus makes a difference. This presentation will explore a ‘response trifecta:’ to help you navigate the issue with your team, the college community, and external audiences. Learn how Monroe Community College’s Marketing and Community Relations team helped lead MCC’s response to a hate speech incident on campus and the lessons the team learned through the experience.

Track: Professional Development

Shifting Mindsets for Successful Leadership in Higher Education 

Scott Vinceguerra, Leadership Strategist
SUNYSAIL Institute

As leaders traverse their career, they carry with them specific experiences which shape their perceptions in many ways. One of the challenges that leaders endure is the mindset that is reticent to shift directions. If leaders are to make any inroads with colleagues and students, the ability to pivot from one framework of thinking to another, in quick and seamless fashion, requires an open mind and a nimble approach. The ability to reframe the mind toward actionable resolutions and high levels of engagement requires that leaders work to listen, learn and lead accordingly. This engaging, hands-on workshop will equip leaders with the necessary tools to return to their campuses with a renewed sense and vision of potential for themselves and those who they lead.

Track: Development / Fundraising

Fresh Perspectives on Donor-Centered Fundraising

Jill Vogel, Director of Alumni Relations and Assistant Director of the SUNY Adirondack Foundation
Jim Bush, Principal and President of The Winkler Group

Explore a fresh perspective on what it means to be donor-centered. What do our donors say about us when we’re not around? What role does gender play in the donor-centered landscape? Through years of front-line fundraising and hundreds of donor interviews and feasibility studies, donors have revealed their experiences to Winkler Group President Jim Bush. The presentation will help fundraisers understand donor realities, lead a discussion of how to define donor-centered at your campus, and focus on 5 key elements of donor-centered fundraising to help you gain a new appreciation for your donors.

Recent research points to a philanthropic shift between men and women when it comes to charitable donations. Jill Vogel from SUNY Adirondack will dive into research done by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and in Kathleen Loehr’s Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy to highlight key findings to develop female oriented, donor-centered practices. 

Track: Development / Fundraising

How a $30 Blanket Secured a $2 Million Dollar Unrestricted Gift

Steven Frederick, VP for Institutional Advancement
Clinton Community College

We have all heard the term, “relationship fundraising.” But what does that really mean and how can every fundraiser (new and seasoned) use the basic rules to raise millions of dollars? This workshop is a story of how a WWII veteran who never finished high school and owned a junkyard was courted up the giving pyramid from annual fund donor to major gift donor to planned gift donor. At the heart of this story is how true “relationship fundraising” built a long friendship between a local business person and his favorite community college.

Track: Development / Fundraising

Engaging New Generations: Nine Keys to Reaching Millennials

Courtney Taurisano-Sprague, Development Assistant
Mohawk Valley Community College

Kestrel Linder, Co-founder and CEO

In recent years, Millennials — those born between 1981-1996 — became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force and ‘Generation Z” — those born after 1996 — began graduating from college. This generation’s ‘coming of age’ has led to a widespread decline in alumni participation and few institutions have escaped these trends, giving rise to concerns about a potential ‘lost generation’ of future major donors. There is reason to be optimistic, however. People born after 1980 will be the beneficiaries of the largest transfer of wealth in human history. Their purchasing power, which already stands in the hundreds of billions of dollars, will steadily increase as more of them enter their peak earning years. According to numerous surveys and studies, between 80% and 90% of Millennials give to charitable organizations each year. Kestrel Linder will review nine characteristics of Millennials and post-Millennials that drive much of their behavior and highlight actionable tactics to increase this population’s philanthropic engagement. Courtney Taurisano-Sprague will share how Mohawk Valley Community College has made giving easier and feel more impactful, used video to tell its story, and leveraged social media to acquire and retain millennial donors. Courtney will draw from her experience planning annual fund campaigns, athletics campaigns, and giving day challenges.

Track: Social / Digital Media

Text messaging gets personal

Ashely Budd, Director of Digital Marketing
Cornell University

Cornell University started texting alumni, parents, and friends this year. In the first round of engagement-focused messages sent, we learned it is very easy to come across sounding spammy. Spam was not our intention. We didn’t use a robo-text service for a reason. Instead, we put humans behind every single message.

This session will offer a comprehensive review of Cornell’s text messaging pilot. You’ll learn what it takes to run a texting campaign and the steps Cornell staff took to make texting more personal.

Track: Multi-Discipline

Multiple Case Study: External Communication and Mission Alignment at Religiously Affiliated Higher Education Institutions

Joseph Stabb, Assistant Professor
SUNY Oswego

This research study was meant to examine the extent to which public relations messaging in select religious private higher education institutions align with the institution’s individual mission statements. Each institution was explored as an individual case. The cases were comprised by examining three religiously affiliated higher education institutions in New York State. All three were selected because of shared similar characteristics/demographics. The data collected from each institution was publicly available either from the institution’s website or their stated, respective social media platforms. Data from the 2016 calendar year was collected and analyzed by descriptive coding and thematic coding methodologies with an inductive analysis based on grounded theory. The data sets were also analyzed by three different, independent coders/investigators, proving inter-coder reliability and validity, and the results from each compared and merged to comprise the results for each case. The data also made some interesting indications, including that a majority of the messaging for each institution does not align with their respective mission statements.

11:10 – 11:30 a.m.: Break

11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.: Concurrent Session 4

Track: Alumni Relations

Branding Your Magazine

 Amy Lovett, Editorial Director
Williams College

Kelly McMurray, Creative Director

A school’s magazine tells their unique story from enrollment to alumni engagement. It should integrate the school’s identity and brand while maintaining an autonomous editorial approach. The school magazine should not get lost among its heavily branded brochures or admissions pieces — but it is a marketing piece for the school. The magazine is created for a community that is part of a place. It is a window into that place for prospective students and donors. This editorially driven piece must be designed by a creative team well versed in the refinement of a publication: the pacing and visual storytelling of a publication system. As the stories unfold in the pages, thoughtful design in harmony with the school’s brand offer up a newsstand-worthy magazine that is alive with content that speaks directly to the intended audience.

Track: Communications & Marketing

LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in Marketing and Public Relations

Nazely Kurkjian, Coordinator of Disability, Diversity & Nontraditional Student Services
The State University of New York

Emma Morcone, LGBTQ Coordinator and Deputy Title IX Coordinator
SUNY New Paltz

Higher education has a deliberate role in advancing equity and inclusion for our LGBTQ+ campus community members. Public relations professionals have a unique position in engaging current as well as prospective students, employees, donors, and alumni. As such, inclusive language and intentionality are paramount to upholding our values. This interactive workshop will discuss topics of inclusivity as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community and the language we utilize in outreach and engagement. 

Track: Professional Development

Shifting Mindsets for Successful Leadership in Higher Education

Scott Vinceguerra, Leadership Strategist
SUNYSAIL Institute

As leaders traverse their career, they carry with them specific experiences which shape their perceptions in many ways. One of the challenges that leaders endure is the mindset that is reticent to shift directions. If leaders are to make any inroads with colleagues and students, the ability to pivot from one framework of thinking to another, in quick and seamless fashion, requires an open mind and a nimble approach. The ability to reframe the mind toward actionable resolutions and high levels of engagement requires that leaders work to listen, learn and lead accordingly. This engaging, hands-on workshop will equip leaders with the necessary tools to return to their campuses with a renewed sense and vision of potential for themselves and those who they lead.

Track: Development / Fundraising

Advancement Council: Entrepreneurial Think Tank for Big Gift Strategy

Rodney Grabowski, Vice President for University Advancement
David Draper, Associate Vice President of Principal Gifts
University at Buffalo

Are you strategizing for the next transformation gift? Do you have some senior executives that you want to engage but they don’t want to serve on a legally defined committee? These questions and more were answered for the University at Buffalo with the establishment of the Advancement Council. Come learn how this entrepreneurial group of thinkers is transforming UB.

Track: Development / Fundraising

Donor Retention

Courtney Kerwin, Director of Annual Giving
Aryn Carnaya, Annual Giving Assistant
SUNY Morrisville

SUNY Morrisville achieved a 67% alumni/donor retention rate in fiscal year 2018 and are on track to surpass that in fiscal year 2019 by targeting donors through methods and dates that are most relevant to them. Learn how Morrisville has reached this number and the feedback we have received from donors. 

Track: Development / Fundraising

Building a Legacy — so much more than just bricks! 

Ed Testa, Associate Vice President of Advancement Services
Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University’s Legacy Way has covered a lot of ground in the past three years. This project has truly brought our campus together, but it hasn’t been without a few hiccups and surprises. We’ll take a look at how this brick pathway has inspired interdisciplinary collaboration and alumni participation — and we’ll discuss the nitty gritty of getting our brick recognition program off the ground, from startup costs and location planning to marketing and preparing for (and bouncing back from) the wildly unexpected.

Track: Social / Digital Media

Web Accessibility: Simplification of WCAG 2.0 for Higher Ed Content Creators 

Norma Campbell, Web Content Coordinator
Fashion Institute of Technology

It’s pretty easy to find technical information about web accessibility for developers, but it can be a challenge to find guidance specifically for content contributors — especially those who have limited technical skills. This is a particular challenge in higher education, where website managers may be responsible for the training and oversight of dozens — or even hundreds — of contributors. Learn how WCAG 2.0 can be simplified for contributors and how to get a jump start on training. Also, learn how FIT retrained 200 web editors in five months as part of the Section 508 refresh announced in January 2017.

Track: Multi-Discipline

Content Analysis of University Blogs

Sarah Slater, Student
SUNY Oswego

Are you trying to appeal to the prospective student? University blogs have been used to communicate with current and prospective students. This presentation will analyze the effectiveness of SUNY and CUNY blogs, and what reoccurring themes are used in blog posts to appeal to a university’s target audiences. 

12:30 – 2 p.m.: Lunch and Awards for Excellence Celebration

2 – 2:20 p.m.: Break

2:20 – 3:10 p.m.: Concurrent Session 5

Track: Alumni Relations

Maximizing Alumni Participation by Engaging Campus Community Members

Janet Masini, Associate Director of Alumni Relations
Stony Brook University

This session will focus on how we can actively engage our campus partners in the life of alumni relations. We’ll discuss how strategically utilizing campus partners, including faculty and staff, can increase alumni participation and strengthen connections to your college.

Track: Communications & Marketing

Managing Minefields on Social Media and Beyond: A Collaborative Approach

Michelle Ouellette, Assistant Professor of Public Relations
SUNY Plattsburgh

The start of the 21st century may go down in history as having been defined by crises, with increases in natural disasters, disease outbreaks, terror attacks and other emergencies. Institutions of higher education are not immune. They have faced increases in natural and man-made crises, including hurricane evacuations, school shootings and violent political and racial protests. Communicators must navigate through tricky terrain, where spoken or printed missteps may threaten lives and the health of institutions. To be effective, they need the sort of situational-awareness building and evidence of crowd sentiment that can come from social media scanning and social listening. At the same time, however, communication duties have exploded, leaving teams with little time to stay abreast of online chatter. Ideally, institutions would increase staffing to meet this need, but tight budgets often make this difficult. This workshop looks at tools and techniques — including crowdsourcing through virtual operations support teams — which may help communicators on a budget stay informed as they navigate communications minefields. It also proposes a system-wide solution, which may help campuses help each other.


Track: Professional Development

Sexual & Interpersonal Violence on Campus: What Communications, Media, Alumni and Development Professionals Must Know


Gemma Rinefierd, Director, Student Conduct Institute
Elizabeth Brady, Director of SIV Prevention & SUNY’s Got Your Back
SUNY System Administration

This session has been developed to provide information and raise awareness of programs and initiatives in the area of Sexual and Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Response at SUNY. SUNY’s Got Your Back and the Student Conduct Institute are both moving the field forward in New York State and this is an opportune time to learn more about our programs. Communications, Media, Alumni and Development Professionals understanding and articulating the efforts of SUNY in this important and timely area benefits us all. In this session, we will provide in-depth information about the development and future planning of the two programs, on-line resources, and national conferences SUNY has developed related to sexual and interpersonal violence prevention and response. 

Track: Development / Fundraising

Motivating Donors: Are There Hints in Your Database to Make Your Message More Effective?

Michelle Gardner, Senior Director of Foundation Relations
Binghamton University

Data screening can add to solicitation strategies but donor motivation, and crafting an appropriate message, is often preserved for high-touch major gift work. This presentation provides insights already contained in your database that can be used to increase revenues. 

Track: Social / Digital Media

How to Create a Digital Branding Strategy

Bruce Ryan, Dean of External Relations (retired)
Tompkins Cortland Community College

Laurie Linn, President
Communiqué Design and Marketing

This presentation features a step-by-step guide for creating and implementing a digital branding strategy. The presenters will: explain the critical connection between research and brand; define brand, branding, and market position; and show how to create and implement a digital branding strategy, with a focus on goals, audiences, design, messaging and tactical decisions. This session will be interactive with practical examples shown for discussion.

Track: Multi-Discipline

SUM: How CUNY Makes Academic Research Sexy (or at least readable, engaging, and relevant)

Beth Harpaz, Editor of CUNY’s SUM website,
Bonnie Eissner, Director of Communications, The Graduate Center
City University of New York

As public institutions, we have an obligation to show taxpayers who support us why academic research matters — why it’s exciting, relevant, meaningful. It’s no mean responsibility, especially when so much of that research seems esoteric and there are fewer news reporters to cover it. CUNY tackled this challenge by creating SUM, a website and interactive media initiative that turns complicated faculty scholarship into readable, relevant, and engaging stories. SUM’s editors will describe how they gather stories, write headlines, find the right images, conceive and produce videos and podcasts, draw audiences with social media, and measure their results. Take a look at our work at and follow us on Twitter:

3:10 – 3:30 p.m.: Break

3:30 – 4:20 p.m.: Concurrent Session 6

Track: Alumni Relations

Beyond the Dollars – Is ROE the New ROI?

Kerry Gotham, Director of Alumni Engagement / Alumni Association Executive Director
The College at Brockport

Chris Marshall, President
Graduway North America

Every benchmarking report and alumni survey demonstrates that fundraising is a natural outcome of good alumni engagement – but how can we measure it? How can we record impact beyond ROI? In this session we will present on how to measure Return on Engagement (ROE), learn what is trending today in the industry, what is new from CASE, and demonstrate how effective alumni engagement will ultimately increase your Return on Investment (ROI). 

Track: Communications & Marketing

Upping the Odds: Faculty Training for Media Wins

Sarah O’Carroll, Communications Specialist
Kelsey Butz, Communications Specialist
Mike Nolan, Sr. Communications Specialist
University at Albany

Promoting faculty as media experts is one of the most valuable assets campus communicators can provide. These individuals are among the best and brightest in their fields and can offer valuable insight to reporters. The benefits of media opportunities are twofold: They allow faculty to share their individual expertise with a broad audience, and they help institutions better tell their own stories by highlighting faculty as trusted sources on a variety of topics. However, communicating with the media is not always intuitive and the right training is essential. In this presentation, we will focus on the tactics and strategies used at the University at Albany to master expert media interviews. We will cover topics including earning faculty trust and training scholars for interview success; pitching experts to local and national reporters; formulating the perfect multimedia pitch; and developing/ maintaining a searchable faculty expert database. We also will share a few of our favorite expert stories as case studies. The presentation will be interactive (including short videos) and led by three members of the Office of Communications and Marketing at UAlbany. 

Track: Professional Development

Engraining Accessibility into the Fabric of the Institution

Mark Greenfield, Web Accessibility Officer
University at Buffalo

Nazely Kurkjian, Coordinator of Disability, Diversity & Nontraditional Student Services
The State University of New York

A major challenge in implementing a sustainable web accessibility program is addressing campus culture to create an environment that fully supports accessibility and inclusion. Web accessibility is everyone’s responsibility, and to be successful it is important that all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities and are empowered to fulfill them. In this presentation, Mark and Nazely will provide a framework to create a campus culture that embraces accessibility, and share practical recommendations on implementing a campus web accessibility program. In addition, there will be an update on the work of the SUNY EIT Accessibility Committee. 

Track: Development / Fundraising

Philanthropic Proposals: Reimagine Proposals to Maximize Donor Support

David Draper, Associate Vice President of Principal Gifts
Jennifer Boscia-Smith, Assistant Vice President for Donor and Alumni Communications
University at Buffalo

Are you looking to reimagine your donor proposals? Is your proposal creation process ready for a reboot with the most important content experts engaged in the process? Do your proposals evoke an emotional reaction that compels donors to commit? These questions and more were answered for the University at Buffalo with a deep assessment and reinvention of its proposal creation process, which produced winning proposals donors love. Come learn how UB has taken donor proposals to a whole new level of communication.

Track: Development / Fundraising

Elements of a Prospective Donor Management System

Arlene Jennings, Senior Director of Prospect Management and Research
Stony Brook University

Information that organizations accumulate on their donors, volunteers, event attendees and other constituents is the bridge to successful fundraising. It’s also among an organization’s most valuable assets. Irrespective of staff and organizational shifts, constituent data must be maintained and captured by its respective institution! Using this information, the main objective of a prospective donor management program is to help facilitate communication between all parties in the relationship with a prospective donor, and track the activity leading to a gift. Regardless of the size of the fundraising operation, a prospective donor management program can provide a necessary flow of communication, goal setting and evaluation, based on portfolio activity, accountability and management, to support strategic, focused fundraising. Learn how the Stony Brook University Prospect Management Program has evolved and is shifting toward interconnectedness among multiple fundraising streams.

Track: Social / Digital Media

Implementing a campus-wide text messaging platform without killing the medium

Scott Titus, Marketing Director
Onondaga Community College

Text messaging is a powerful communication tool that can have dramatic impacts on enrollment yield, student success and alumni/donor engagement. There are also many potential pitfalls with its use. This session will focus on navigating those pitfalls when implementing and using a text messaging platform as well as ways to maximize its effectiveness.


4:20 – 5:00 p.m.: Break

5:00 p.m.: Bus begins transporting people to National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.: Reception at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
Refreshments and Heavy Hors D’oeuvres

The bus will continually loop between the hotel and museum.
The last bus will depart the museum at 8 p.m.


 8:15 – 9 a.m.: Networking Breakfast – join colleagues working within your disciplines at peer campuses for advice, idea sharing and best practices.

9 – 9:50 a.m.: Plenary Session

Artificial Intelligence in Advancement

Rodney Grabowski, MBA, CFRE, Vice President for Advancement
The University at Buffalo

Artificial intelligence is permeating our society in just about every aspect of our lives, including shopping, news and entertainment. Implementing an artificial intelligence strategy within advancement seems futuristic; however, the future is here. Are you an early adopter and trend setter? Or would you prefer to wait until something has been proven by others? As a trend setter, the University at Buffalo implemented the use of artificial intelligence — learn about some successes and opportunities that makes A.I. a game-changer for Advancement.

9:50 – 10:40 a.m.: Plenary Session

Carly-Ann Fergus, Public Speaker and Systems Builder
XRC Labs; Farmingdale State College, SUNY ’11

Change makes us uncomfortable; therefore, it is often hard to embrace. If we lean into this feeling of discomfort, it can lead to new discoveries and great outcomes. This presentation will explore how change and innovation can transform an old industry by disrupting its traditional processes. It will also touch on how embracing change transformed my career and had a positive impact on my professional development.

 10:40 – 11 a.m.: Closing Remarks; Conference Adjourns

 11 – 11:30 a.m.: Conference Planning for Volunteers interested in helping with SUNYCUAD 2020 in Rochester!  Location TBA