2020 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education


Day 1 | All Times CST

9:00 am - 2:00 pm

Special Thanks to our Daily Sponsor Adobe

Be sure to check our Adobe’s presentation in the Solutions Center!

9:30 am - 2:00 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Open

Connect with 40+ solutions providers offering insights and tools to help you make an impact on campus.

10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Extended Marketing Session

Marketing Applied to Higher Education - Real Fast!

This session will take the principles of marketing and apply them to marketing universities and colleges in a whirlwind! The session is content heavy, highly energetic and interactive. It is guaranteed to set the stage and increase learning for newer attendees over the next few days.

Tom Hayes

Dean and Professor of Marketing, Xavier University

Extended Marketing Session

Redesigning for Growth: Innovations and Post-Covid Best Practices in Commflow Strategy

Let’s face it, marketing and enrollment leaders often struggle to find common ground. For higher education institutions to thrive in a post-COVID world, the resources, ratios, and tactics between enrollment and marketing must be reconsidered to ensure the best chance for enrollment success.  This session will dive deep into effective comm-flow and marketing practice redesign, the shift and focus on yield, and best practices in student segmentation, marketing and enrollment cycle strategies, measurements, and data-driven research techniques that will improve your ROI for this cycle and beyond.

Scott Ochander

Partner, Chief Marketing Officer, Carnegie Dartlet

Eric Page

VP Enrollment and Marketing Strategy, Carnegie Dartlet

12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Break

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

The Future of Recruiting and Enrollment in Higher Education

Three top industry leaders will present on The Future of Recruiting and Enrollment in Higher Education. Each presenter will share their thought leadership for 15 minutes, followed by a live Q+A with all three leaders.

How Artificial Intelligence Efforts Boost Higher Ed Enrollment; Presented by: Marvin Oey, Acquia

Staying Strategic During a Pandemic: Enrolling the Rice University Class of 2024…and Beyond; Presented by: Matt Cyr, Primacy, Neha Agrawal, Director of Enrollment Marketing and Communications, Rice University, and Carla Johnson, AVP Client Services, Primacy

Optimizing Revenue: Online and Graduate Enrollment; Presented by: Charles Ramos and Dawn Hiles, RNL

Marvin Oey

Senior Solutions Engineer, Acquia

Matt Cyr

VP of Strategic Practices and Managing Director of Education, Primacy

Charles Ramos

Vice President, Graduate and Online Enrollment Management, RNL

Dawn Hiles

Senior Vice President, RNL

1:45 pm - 3:45 pm
Extended Marketing Session

Five Building Blocks of Successful Leadership

We’re always emerging as leaders. That’s because the pursuit of leadership excellence is as elusive as it is never-ending – especially these days. This lively workshop will inform, inspire, and learn from those leading marketing and communications organizations and those who plan to do so.

Dr. Jessica McWade will facilitate a highly participatory session providing attendees with  strategies, tools, and examples for understanding and improving the five building blocks of successful leadership: 1) emotional intelligence, 2) interpersonal communication, 3) persuasiveness, 4) market awareness, and 5) effective decision-making.

What better time than right now to reflect on and build our leadership capabilities?

Jessica McWade

President, McWade Group

Extended Marketing Session

The Power of Data

Data has long been a buzzword, but the real power of data isn’t about gathering more data — it’s about gathering better data. This session will uncover how to ask the right questions that produce the most meaningful, actionable, and insightful research, and how to benchmark and measure that data over time to inform crucial brand health metrics and inform strategic decision making.

Andrea Kruszka

Director, Strategy & Accounts, SimpsonScarborough

Kristen Creighton

AVP, Strategy & Accounts, SimpsonScarborough

Meredith Simpson

AVP, Research, SimpsonScarborough

Day 2

9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Open

Connect with 40+ solutions providers offering insights and tools to help you make an impact on campus.

9:00 am - 10:00 am

Wellness Hour

In Real-Time Only

Designed to kickstart your day with connection and mindfulness.

10:00 am - 11:00 am

Dreaming in the Midst of a Nightmare: Marketing Tomorrow from the Frontlines of a Pandemic

In Real-Time Only

We are all living through the most difficult period in modern history. Everywhere we turn we are faced with discord, disruption, and disappointment. Inherent in the role of marketing professionals and leaders is the ability to communicate, and belief, that next will be better than now. But what happens when we do not know when our next will begin or how it will be better than now? How do we market a better tomorrow when our now is so difficult? Join Paul Quinn College President Michael J. Sorrell as he answers these questions and more during his talk “Dreaming in the Midst of a Nightmare: Marketing Tomorrow from the Frontlines of a Pandemic.”

Michael J. Sorrell

President, Paul Quinn College

11:15 am - 12:15 pm
Brand & Content Strategy Breakout Session

Marketing with Conviction: The New Standard in Higher Ed

Many higher ed institutions today are looking outside of the category for marketing communications leadership, processes, creative inspiration and tactical thinking. But what is the point if our efforts lack conviction or courage? By setting a high bar for brand platform development—to not just define the category but defy it—the University of Arizona was able to inspire and compel its team to create a human brand, rather than a higher ed brand. Bravery and consistency were prioritized at every stage of the process, illuminating many specific insights that could be applied at any institution.

Christian Carl

Executive Creative Director, 160over90

Steve Moore

SVP, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, University of Arizona

Audience Engagement Breakout Session

Using Neurodesign to Increase RFI Conversions

Nearly $2 billion is spent annually on higher education marketing in the U.S. Given the scale of this investment, shouldn’t we do whatever it takes to get the most out of it? The emerging field of neurodesign can help do just that. While there’s a lot we don’t know about the brain, we do know a bit about its functions and human cognition that can be leveraged to boost RFI performance. Learn how to use this information to create designs that motivate prospects to take action—and get more bang for their buck.

Andres Zapata

EVP of Strategy, idfive

Deborah Kohl

Professor, University of Baltimore

Measurement Research Breakout Session

The Latest Innovation in Brand Research is Social Listening

Marty Neumeier famously wrote, “Brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” Now that up to 50% of word-of-mouth conversation happens online, you can accurately capture and analyze what they say about your brand or your competitors.

Learn how multiple institutions—from small private to large public—have used social listening as a mixed-methods research methodology to understand how online conversation reflects and impacts their brand, uncover opportunities to clarify campus messaging, leverage key audiences and quantify brand development. You’ll also receive a framework to describe or conduct this methodology yourself.

Liz Gross

Founder, CEO, Campus Sonar

How It's Made Breakout Session

Addressing Transfer Students’ Digital Needs

When done well, a transfer-centered website can reduce common transition barriers and may even promote a more equitable transfer pathway for students from historically underserved populations. Unfortunately, the wide variation in the quality and accuracy of transfer websites indicates that institutions lag in their efforts to understand and support their transfers. In this session, we’ll explore best practices for creating a comprehensive, transfer-centered website. You’ll learn how to design a content strategy specifically tailored to meet your transfer students’ needs and leave with a personalized roadmap for launching your project.

Janet Marling

Executive Director, National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students

Voltaire Santos Miran

Chief Executive Officer, Head of Client Experience, mStoner

Industry Experts Breakout Session

Martech Maturity Model: Creating a Tangible Data Framework, Starting with Google Analytics and your CRM

The ability to capture, aggregate, report on and generate insights from marketing data for faster decision-making is one of the most pressing challenges in higher ed. In this session, we will explore an approach to integrating marketing data that can drive efficiency, cost-savings, and revenue growth.

Dan Antonson

Associate Director, Marketing Technology & Analytics, Collegis Education

12:15 pm - 12:30 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Break

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Innovation Showcase

Three top industry leaders will present on Pivoting Your Virtual Strategy.  Each presenter will share their thought leadership for 15 minutes, followed by a live Q+A with all three leaders.

Navigating Virtual Life: How to Manage through Chaotic Times while Seeing the Big Picture; Presented by: Fernando Bergas-Coria, Ologie

How Higher Education Has Pivoted: What Going Back to School Looks like Now; Presented by: Chris Wu, David Kees, and Oliver Seldman, Pantheon

Delivering Social Listening Insights to the Industry at Large; Presented by: Steve App, CampusSonar

Fernando Bergas-Coria

Director, Integrated Marketing, Ologie

Chris Wu

Web Developer, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

David Kees

Senior Full Stack Developer, Georgetown University

Oliver Seldman

Customer Success Manager, Pantheon

Steve App

Business Development Manager, CampusSonar

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Brand & Content Strategy Breakout Session

Insights on What's Next from Real-Time COVID-Era Marketing

Did COVID-19 change the trajectory of higher ed marketing or did it expedite what was already happening? We have collected data and lessons learned from making in-the-moment adjustments to strategy and messaging throughout the pandemic, and we will use those insights to answer that question. In this session, our panel of higher ed experts discuss key takeaways from 2020 to uncover what did and didn’t work from real-time marketing in the COVID era. Attendees will learn to reflect on their marketing strategies from this year, look to data-driven insights and structure a workable strategy for turbulent times moving forward.

Kim West

Chief Marketing Strategist, University of Missouri - Kansas City

Matthew Walters

VP of Client Services, VisionPoint Marketing

Steven Partridge

VP for Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Innovation, Northern Virginia Community College

Audience Engagement Breakout Session

Boston University’s Student-Run Campaign: Provocative with a Purpose

This session offers a behind-the-scenes look at a bold student-to-student public health campaign and the lessons our team has learned in redefining COVID-19 communications. F*ck It Won’t Cut It is a student-run initiative rooted in the idea that saying “F-it” to the smallest protocols can lead to big consequences. With the support of university leadership, we strategically discuss “taboo” topics on social channels and campus ad placements to inspire smart behavior and teach safe alternatives. Our student team will share best practices in understanding a target audience, leveraging stakeholders and being provocative with a purpose.

Hailey McKee

Director of External Affairs, Boston University AdLab/PRLab

Hannah Schweitzer

Boston University AdLab/PRLab

Mac Wylie

Boston University AdLab/PRLab

Shubhangi Verma

Boston University AdLab/PRLab

Effective Leadership Breakout Session

How Marketing and Enrollment Should Work Together

In the best of times, marketing and enrollment need to have clear agreements on how they work together or don’t. Layer in a pandemic, elections, protests and those pesky shifting demographics and it’s a whole new world.

Join us for a spirited discussion among some of higher ed’s most experienced (and unabashedly vocal) marketing and enrollment pros. They’ll get real about how their teams are structured to get the results they need— how they collaborate, share resources, leverage partnerships or, in some cases, how they stay out of each other’s way.

Jenny Brower

President, Mindpower Inc.

Joffery Gaymon

VP for Enrollment, Auburn University

Kevin Kropf

EVP of Enrollment Management, Drury University

Mary Baglivo

VP for University Relations, Pace University

Timothy Hussey

Chief Communications Officer, Harvey Mudd College

How It's Made Breakout Session

Marketing for Online Programs with the 2019 AMA Higher Ed Team of the Year

Once upon a time, in a reality far in the distant past, higher education was a stable, healthy and change-averse societal institution. Controversy, alternative models and COVID-19 have softened the once rock-solid foundation of our traditional education system. Institutions moved quickly to offer courses online or were forced to do so against their will due to the recent pandemic. Will anything ever go back to the way it was? Probably not, so getting used to marketing and enrollment for online programs is a must.

Arbazz Nizami

Digital Marketing Manager, Claremont Lincoln University

Joseph Sallustio

EVP, Chief Operating Officer, Claremont Lincoln University

Rina Dakanay

Marketing and Communications Manager, Claremont Lincoln University

Physically distanced, personally connected

In the midst of a pandemic, prospective students face an often overwhelming new reality characterized by a major lack of personal connections, economic challenges, and health concerns. Learn how Arizona State University developed communication strategies to meet rapidly changing circumstances and help students persist on their academic journey. This discussion offers ideas you can implement at your own college or school.

Brad Baertsch

Senior Director, First-Year Domestic and International Recruitment Admission Services, Arizona State University

Matt Faison

Assistant Director, Digital Engagement Provost and Enrollment Services Communications, Arizona State University 

Kerstin Gallardo

Email Marketing Coordinator Provost and Enrollment Services Communications, Arizona State University

Brad Schleicher

Director, Industry Solutions Higher Education Marcom, Salesforce.org

2:30 pm - 2:45 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Break

2:45 pm - 4:00 pm

Roundtable Sessions

In Real-Time Only

The symposium offers a variety of round table discussions to allow attendees the space to discuss, share best practices and expand your understanding on a range of important topics. The sessions are moderated by an experienced discussion facilitator, but the discussion is all yours! Attend one or more round tables and be ready to ask questions, share ideas and dive deep into subjects all while making new contacts.

Topics Include:

  • Marketing to Non-Traditional Students 
  • Grad Programs
  • Colleges of Business
  • Brand Strategy
  • Small Schools
  • Marketing to Underrepresented Students 
  • Women in Leadership
  • Content Strategy
  • New to Higher Ed
  • Social Justice
  • Diversity & Equity
  • Student Recruiting During a Pandemic
  • Social Media Management
  • Marketing Online Programs
  • Ethics of Crisis Communications
  • What Have You Learned: 2020
  • Engaging Alumni and Donors During a Pandemic

Day 3

9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Open

Connect with 40+ solutions providers offering insights and tools to help you make an impact on campus.

10:00 am - 11:00 am

Radical Candor: Creating a Culture of Feedback

In Real-Time Only

We believe that the relationships you have with other team members is at the center of your success — individually and collectively. And, at the heart of these relationships is Radical Candor, a simple framework developed to help you build a culture of great feedback.

Radical Candor is the ability to give feedback in a way that challenges people directly and shows you care about them personally. It will help you and all the people you work with do the best work of your careers and build stronger working relationships. Kim Scott will introduce you to concepts, vocabulary, and tactics you can put into practice immediately.

Kim Scott

Author and Co-Founder, Radical Candor

11:15 am - 12:15 pm
Brand & Content Strategy Breakout Session

The Power of Storytelling Post-COVID-19

With prospects evaluating programs much differently post-COVID, it is critical for institutions to tell “their story” in a compelling, genuine and authentic way. Great stories in enrollment marketing have “stickiness,” draw our attention and spur us into action. But what makes a great story great, especially in a time like the present?

We will uncover how marketers can collaborate with stakeholders (internally and externally) to harness the power of stories to attract prospects. We will cover:
• Science behind great storytelling
• Using emotionality in higher education marketing
• Key components for great stories for higher education marketing

Alex Baranpuria

Co-Founder & Vice President, Ivy Exec

Andrea Shaw

Assistant Dean of Marketing & Communication at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

Audience Engagement Breakout Session

Latinx Learners: The Biggest Untapped Segment in Higher Education

The Latinx student market is one of the few growing prospect pools in higher ed, yet many colleges and universities struggle to connect with the traditional and adult learner candidates comprising it. To help schools better approach the Latinx market, Lipman Hearne has partnered with Univision, the country’s largest provider of Spanish language media content, to identify demographic and cultural insights about the Latinx student market for both traditional and adult learners. Through this work we have created a set of marketing personas to help colleges better understand these learners and how to best communicate and connect with them.

Kirsten Fedderke

Senior Vice President and Board Chair, Lipman Hearne

Lisa DeBiasi

Research Director, Univision Chicago

Effective Leadership Breakout Session

How to Support Your Social Media Managers for Long-Term Success

West Virginia University surveyed hundreds of higher ed social media managers just weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic to get a better sense of the community.

Our findings show that the higher ed social media community is generally struggling. In fact, 47% say they do not have the support or resources to ensure good mental health. That will likely lead to high turnover rate within our industry. The presentation will give best practices from leaders in the industry on how to properly understand the stressors your social media managers may be under and how to best support.

Tony Dobies

Senior Director of Marketing, West Virginia University

How It's Made Breakout Session

How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Efforts During a Spending Freeze

Adapting to change isn’t new to marketers—but a spending freeze in the months leading to August (our biggest month for new enrollment) was something we hadn’t anticipated in the marketing department for The University of Alabama’s online degree programs. What did we do during the halt?

Our 10-person marketing team saw this as an opportunity to evaluate our lead communication strategy more than ever. And while there were lots of factors in play, our results were much better than frozen in August: a 34% increase in online graduate student enrollment and a 17.9% increase in overall online enrollment.

Amy Nichols

Content Coordinator for Online Learning, The University of Alabama

Jessika White

Marketing Manager, Online Learning, The University of Alabama

Industry Experts Breakout Session
12:15 pm - 12:30 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Break

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Innovation Showcase

Three top industry leaders will present on Branding & Advertising in the New Normal.  Each presenter will share their thought leadership for 15 minutes, followed by a live Q+A with all three leaders.

How to templatize design on campus; Presented by: Christina Sanders, Lucidpress

The Brand Experience; Presented by: Bill Thorburn, Thorburn, A Stamats Company

Advertising to High School Students in 2020: Best Practices from 187 Higher Ed Marketers; Presented by: Matt Diteljan, Glacier Marketing

Christina Sanders

Inbound marketing manager, Lucid

Bill Thorburn

CEO/ Chief Creative Officer at THORBURN

Matt Diteljan

Co-Founder & CEO at Glacier

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Brand & Content Strategy Breakout Session

Activating Brand Narratives and Aligning Content for Performance

How can a new brand affect funnel performance? At the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, these concerns were mitigated by a brand-activation and content strategy that drives personalized engagement throughout the enrollment funnel.
Join Mendoza’s Chief Marketing Officer and Teaching Professor of Marketing Tim Bohling and his team as they present how they took a new brand from concept to launch to activation in 12 months, across 12 graduate business programs.

In this session, you’ll learn how Mendoza’s content marketing team developed and activated its “Grow the Good” brand narrative, increasing both organic and paid content performance.

Amanda Jacobson

Assistant Director of Content Marketing, Mendoza College of Business, Notre Dame University

Tim Bohling

Chief Marketing Officer, Mendoza College of Business, Notre Dame University

Audience Engagement Breakout Session

Retention Marketing: Higher Ed’s New Frontier

The gloves are off. The higher ed landscape is changing: 75% of Gen Zers say that college isn’t the only way to get a good education. The 2008 birth dearth has shrunk our pool of 18-year-olds by 15%. NACAC’s ethic code changes mean colleges can poach our students like never before—and that was all before COVID-19.
In this new frontier, retention marketing is paramount. UC Davis Student Affairs Marketing and Communications has focused on retention marketing for over a decade. This presentation looks at our successes and identifies ways to build your own successful retention marketing efforts.

Andrew McDaniel

Associate Marketing and Communications Director for Student Affairs, UC Davis

Jennifer Vaughn

Senior Designer for Student Affairs Marketing and Communications at UC Davis

Measurement Research Breakout Session

National Survey Results: What Are High School Students and Parents Thinking?

Be the first to learn results from the next-phase national survey on “What College-Considering High School Students and Their Parents Believe is Important in Choosing a University Today,” following up on our spring survey covered by CNN, CBS, CNBC and Inside Higher Ed. Attendees will learn the latest on how COVID-19 is affecting 2021 decision-making.

David Demarest, former Stanford University communications executive, and Brian Tierney, veteran marketing executive, are trusted advisors in crisis and higher education. Together, they will discuss long and short-term implications of COVID-19 and communications strategies for capturing—and keeping—attention in today’s critical environment.

Brian Tierney

CEO, Brian Communications

David Demarest

Professor, Former Vice President for Public Affairs, Stanford University

Effective Leadership Breakout Session

Get Real: Authentically Reinforcing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Through Your Digital Marketing

When your institution commits to cultivating an inclusive, diverse community, your communications are both a critical window into your community and a tool to advance your DEI goals. Presenting authentic diversity and priorities around inclusion on the website may yield affinity and engagement among key audiences while demonstrating a commitment to equity.

But to communicate sustainably and consistently about diversity, you need a framework for continually affirming relevant editorial choices—because people expect it, but also because it is the right thing to do. To succeed, your communications operation needs to be aligned, without demanding undue labor from underrepresented persons.

Georgiana Cohen

Director of Digital Strategy, OHO Interactive

Earn an A+ in your digital marketing strategy

With education institutions continuing to face uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to connect digitally with prospective students and parents. Meanwhile, the digital landscape continues to get more fragmented, therefore finding and making these connections is getting even more challenging. Join Adtaxi’s webinar to learn how to overcome these challenges and get on the right track for your marketing success.

  • Finding and influencing prospective students and parents
  • Developing a more personal connection with your marketing
  • Generating success outside of your typical digital marketing channels

Lindsy O'connor

Senior Sales Director, Adtaxi

Megan Bucur

Client Services Manager, Strategy, Adtaxi

2:30 pm - 2:45 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Break

2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

Networking Event

In Real-Time Only

Designed to end your day with connection and fun.

Day 4

9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Networking & Exhibit Hall Open

Connect with 40+ solutions providers offering insights and tools to help you make an impact on campus.

10:00 am - 11:15 am

Higher Ed Marketer of the Year Awards Ceremony + Panel Discussion

The AMA Foundation Higher Education Marketers of the Year Awards, sponsored by Lipman Hearne, honors extraordinary leadership and achievement in the field of higher education marketing. Join us for an informative panel, moderated by Peter Barber, Executive Vice President, Lipman Hearne, with Higher Education Marketers of the Year Awards recipients as they share their perspective on leading in times of change and pivoting with purpose as the industry continues to evolve. Join us for key takeaways on how their award-winning work can be applied to any organization.

Peter Barber

Executive Vice President, Business and Account Development, Lipman Hearne

11:15 am - 11:30 am

Networking & Exhibit Hall Break

11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Innovation Showcase

Three top industry leaders will present on The Everchanging World of Marketing in Higher Education.  Each presenter will share their thought leadership for 15 minutes, followed by a live Q+A with all three leaders.

How Higher Ed Creatives Can Quickly Pivot Priorities; Presented by: Molly Clark and Elise Hauser, inMotionNow

Automating + Scaling Personalized Enrollment Marketing; Presented by: Ardis Kadiu, Element451

Thinking Cap Agency; Presented by: Tim Gerstmyer

Molly Clark

Director of Marketing, inMotionNow

Elise Hauser

Senior Marketing Manger, Product & Content, inMotionNow

Ardis Kadiu

CEO, Element451

Tim Gerstmyer

President, Thinking Cap Agency

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

The State of the Institute

In Real-Time Only

Join leaders from a variety of institutions as they discuss the challenges and opportunities of 2020, from COVID and Black Lives Matter to the election and cancel culture, and what they envision as the college experience of 2021 and beyond.


Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick

President, Howard University

Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson

President, Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles

Dr. E. Gordon Gee

President, West Virginia University

2:15 pm - 3:30 pm

Roundtable Sessions

In Real-Time Only

The symposium offers a variety of round table discussions to allow attendees the space to discuss, share best practices and expand your understanding on a range of important topics. The sessions are moderated by an experienced discussion facilitator, but the discussion is all yours! Attend one or more round tables and be ready to ask questions, share ideas and dive deep into subjects all while making new contacts.

Topics Include:

  • Marketing to Non-Traditional Students 
  • Grad Programs
  • Colleges of Business
  • Brand Strategy
  • Small Schools
  • Marketing to Underrepresented Students 
  • Women in Leadership
  • Content Strategy
  • New to Higher Ed
  • Social Justice
  • Diversity & Equity
  • Student Recruiting During a Pandemic
  • Social Media Management
  • Marketing Online Programs
  • Ethics of Crisis Communications
  • What Have You Learned: 2020
  • Engaging Alumni and Donors During a Pandemic


Brand & Content Strategy

‘Nontraditional’ Learners Are the New Normal

Higher education today is seldom, if at all, a linear, traditional journey. But why is it still perceived that way?
For some, college begins at one point and takes a break at another, only to begin again years later. For others, college is completed while juggling jobs and parenting responsibilities. And now because of COVID-19, other learners may take a gap year, or transfer to a more affordable school closer to home.

This has always been the norm at Portland State University where the majority of students are nontraditional. It’s time to embrace the fact that nontraditional has become ordinary.

Julie Smith

Director of Marketing at Portland State University

Brand & Content Strategy

The Show Must Go On.

Providing central “air cover” communications to convey your purpose and value—even during a pandemic

Having launched its evolved institutional brand in late January, Purdue understood the need for focus and deliberate content during a global pandemic. While actively communicating about COVID, they launched a campus-wide strategic marketing campaign called “air cover,” utilizing  8 pillars of its core value proposition to guide 400 campus communicators and drive desired brand perceptions, particularly with admitted students and families, during a pivotal yield period.

In this session, you’ll hear from Purdue about how it embraced its new brand platform and digital marketing channels during COVID-19 and how it shaped what they are doing differently campus-wide today.

Bill Faust

Senior Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, Ologie

R. Ethan Braden

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Purdue University

Audience Engagement

Generating Demand Throughout the Funnel

Generating leads for graduate and online programs is an expensive proposition. Universities are investing significant resources to generate leads, but they often come from one or two primary sources with little consideration for how leads convert through the funnel. In this session we’ll explore a comprehensive lead sources strategy that leverages multiple sources and increases ROI.

Dawn Hiles

Senior Vice President, Ruffalo Noel Levitz

John Pyle

Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President of Enrollment, Webster University

Audience Engagement

Student-Centered Enrollment Communications

According to a recent PwC report, 65% of U.S. customers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising. Young people in particular make decisions based on feelings, emotions and experiences. As marketers, there is a tremendous opportunity to impact enrollment with a personal, student-centered approach to communications with prospective students and families. This session is all about strategies, tips and real-life examples for making your marketing and communications more personalized and human. Spoiler alert: It works! We’ll explain how Siena and other colleges have achieved record freshman enrollment using this approach.

Allison Turcio

Director, Digital Strategy, Siena College

Jeremy Tiers

Director of Admissions Services, Tudor Collegiate Strategies

Audience Engagement

Email Overload: What We Send vs. What Students See

We’re all familiar with email overload and as marketers, we do our best to push out information that is timely, strategic and relevant, not just contributing to the noise. But when we conducted a comprehensive internal email audit of a large, decentralized university, we flipped the lens on traditional marketing metrics—CTRs, open rates, etc.—and asked the question “What are students hearing?” instead of “What are we saying?” The result is a set of insights and best practices for communicating with our most discerning audience: current students.

Jenny McMahon

Director, Marketing and Communications, New York University

Audience Engagement

Lessons of 2020: Sustainable Social Media at UVM

In a world where it’s impossible to know what tomorrow will bring, how can higher ed communicators hope to stay strategic (and sane)? In this session, we’ll share what helped us, the University of Vermont, weather the storm of 2020: a social media strategy centered around an ethos of sustainability. Sustainable social media, which we define as efficient, collaborative, and audience-focused, helped us cultivate community, recruit and retain students, and bolster our reputation in uncertain times. Plus, we’ll share lessons learned that are shaping our plans for the long road ahead.

Andrea Estey

Digital Content Strategist, University of Vermont

Riley Lantz

Digital Content Associate, University of Vermont

Measurement Research

Use Data to Optimize Your Content

Where do you find the real insights in your data and how do you use those to provide measurable changes to content performance? This session will provide specific things to look for in your analytics and data and show you how to improve your content performance based on your findings.

Brian Piper

Director of Content Strategy and Assessment, University of Rochester

Effective Leadership

The Power of Social Media Managers in 2020

Can a social media manager change the course of college’s institutional voice? Columbus College of Art & Design faced vocal criticism from current students and recent alumni over a delayed response to the Black Lives Matter protests in May 2020. CCAD’s social media manager came equipped to present senior leadership with a path forward that involved listening, apologizing and taking action. The result was a bridge that rebuilt trust between students, alumni and the college. In this session, you’ll hear about how including your social media manager in larger key institutional conversations can help save your institution’s reputation.

Jill Moorhead

Vice President for Marketing & Communications, Columbus College of Art & Design

Lisa Steward

Digital Analyst, Columbus College of Art & Design


The Enrollment-Optimized .edu

College websites are often expected to serve many masters, including prospective students, faculty and nonacademic staff—a fact that virtually guarantees a suboptimal user experience and diminished ROI. The surest route to addressing this problem is rigorous goal-setting, a process that often (and appropriately) results in tuition revenue growth being adopted as the main organizing principle for the .edu. Counterintuitively, this narrow focus helps ensure productive working relationships with the full range of key .edu stakeholders. This presentation shows these ideas in action, via a case study of a website redesign undertaken by Nova Southeastern University in partnership with EAB.

Kamilah Lewis

Director of Accounts and Strategy, EAB

Kyle Fisher

VP for PR and Marketing Communications, Nova Southeastern University



Presenting Sponsors



Premium Sponsors



Industry Experts









Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commitment Statement

As members of, and companies that work with, higher education communities across our nation and abroad, the AMA Higher Education Conference Planning Committee stands in solidarity with our Black, brown and indigenous colleagues. We hear you. We see you. We stand with you in the call for justice, accountability, and reform. We share the heartache, frustration, and anger brought on by the violence against people of color across this country. Like many of you, we understand that all lives can’t matter unless, and until, Black lives matter. 

The members of this committee are committed to doing all we can to ensure that this conference reflects the diversity of our industry, and we are committed to doing our part to move toward equity. We will make mistakes and when we do, we will own them and strive to be and do better.

In order for this country to truly heal, all of us must do the work. Individually and collectively. We must educate ourselves, listen, and actively and consistently demand better. As higher educators, we owe it to our students, our fellow educators, and the universities that we serve to do more than make statements – our lives and our decisions must intentionally reflect the missions and visions of our institutions and organizations. 

As a volunteer committee that plans professional development for higher ed marketers, we promise to work even harder to secure more diverse voices and representation in our call for proposals, our keynote speakers, our presenters and the content they deliver, in our roundtable topics and networking opportunities, and on the planning committee itself. There are myriad opportunities for volunteer roles throughout the conference. Please let an AMA staffer or committee member know if you have an interest in being involved. This is not our conference, it is your conference. 

As you continue serving your constituents and students, and continue on your own journey, please consider asking some growth-minded questions:

  • How have you challenged your own understanding of diversity? How have you challenged your own bias?
  • Are you well-resourced in the areas of anti-racism work? If not, ask for what you need. Ours is a teaching and learning community. 
  • How do you demonstrate a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion in your marketing and communications tools? Are you moving beyond diverse photography selections?
  • How do you demonstrate a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion in your hiring practices? Are your hiring committees an accurate reflection of your community? How are you seeking more diverse candidates? How do you welcome diverse candidates into your community? How is diversity encouraged and reflected in your leadership?
  • What are you doing to create an environment that fosters diversity and equity?
  • Have you required diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development opportunities at all levels of your department and organization? Are you adequately funding those opportunities?
  • What have you done to welcome more diverse voices, of all kinds, into your decision-making processes?
  • How have you intentionally consumed and shared media by people of color? Of diverse perspectives? If you have platforms, are you sharing that space?

Thank you for the opportunity to work together to improve our professional and personal communities. 


2020 AMA Higher Education Conference Planning Committee

Alexa Poulin

EVP, Marketing & Digital, Carnegie Dartlet

Betsy Bugg Holloway

Vice President for Marketing and Communication, Samford University

Christie Harper

Associate Vice President, Enrollment Marketing and Communications, University of Arizona

Dave Sonntag

Associate Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Gonzaga University

Jamie Ceman  

Vice President, Strategic Marketing & Communications, Chapman University

Lisa Jordan

CEO/Wise Woman, Mindpower Inc.

Luke Anderson

CMO, University of Florida

Myla Edmond

Marketing and Communications Director, University of California Education Abroad Program

Nick DeNardis

Director of Digital Communications, Wayne State University

Rob Zinkan

Vice President, RHB

Tim Jones

Founder, Tim Jones MarComm

W. Chris Hudson

Vice President/Lead Presenter, (Consultant) Hudson & Associates Consulting