Dear Editor: The Importance of Advancing the University’s Message at the Capitol

February 1, 2019

With the state legislative session well under way, the University Relations team is hard at work making the case to lawmakers that the University is worth the investment. This year, the University is advocating for a biennial budget investment that will keep our impact across Minnesota strong, as well as capital funding to keep our facilities useable for generations to come.

And media relations efforts are an important part of that advocacy work. The news media across the state play a central role in informing both legislators and their constituents about the positive impact of the University in their communities. To that end, the University Relations PR team is working hard to promote the value of the University to Minnesotans.

In early January, to kick off the session, President Eric Kaler hosted a press conference at the Capitol to outline the University’s requests. He was joined by a diverse array of speakers who exemplified the University’s strength in education, research, and outreach activities.

U of M Rochester student Chidiogo Orakwue, born in Nigeria, told her story of choosing to attend UMR on her way to becoming an obstetrician. U of M Extension educator Megan M. Weber spoke about the Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors program. And Marie Manner, recent Ph.D. graduate from the University's AI, Robotics, and Vision Laboratory, and Jed Elison, associate professor in the Institute of Child Development, spoke about the University’s autism research.

Reporters from the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Minnesota News Network, MinnPost, Minnesota Daily, and others attended the press conference.

Later in January, President Kaler was joined by members of the University community to testify before the Senate and House higher education committees. Shortly after, he released a statement to the media that emphasized the value of investment in the University.

Now, the University Relations PR team will continue its work by encouraging advocates across the state to write op-eds or letters to the editor to their local newspapers, arranging media interviews with President Kaler and other spokespeople on the University’s requests, and sharing stories of the University’s positive impact throughout Minnesota.

As communications professionals across the University, you are invaluable partners in doing this work well and promoting the University’s message in Saint Paul and around the state.

If you have a story idea that ties to the University’s legislative request, a voice that would share an op-ed (whether that be a student, faculty member, alum, donor, or someone else), or an idea for promoting the value of the University through media relations, please contact us! You can reach out directly to Emma Bauer at ebauer@umn.edu, 612-626-1720.

You can learn more about the University’s 2019 legislative requests at government-relations.umn.edu.

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