Archive for September, 2009

| posted by Joe Hice |

The “Student Project”

I’m excited today.  The first group of students has approached me about a project that involves university communications.  You don’t get these kind of opportunities anywhere else, at least not on a regular basis.  Working with students is really what higher education is all about.  Sure, you’ve got to get out the news about the research and discovery taking place on campus, the novel flu outbreak in town, the library of the 22nd century, that kind of stuff, but working with students is why we’re here.

The group wants to talk about the NC State branding campaign, especially the television portion of the effort.  I’m anxious to hear what they think of the work and what suggestions they will have after their research has been completed.

On other fronts, more meetings!  Hey, what a surprise.  Floating the ideas to increase the activities of the NC State University Communications Network and it is being met with positive comments.  Names are already reaching me of people who would like to be involved on the various committees.  A dean or two has even noted the effort and that’s a good thing.

Headed for Gainesville tomorrow afternoon then next week is a short week for me.  If you’ve looked at my background you know I’m a motorcycle guy from way back when and I’ll be in California working on a “project” with several of my motorcycle buddies.  Did I mention the project involves riding motorcycles:-)  Yes, that makes me happy, though I’m looking forward to getting settled in here in Raleigh and doing a little riding in this area.  No need to go all the way to California when mountains and beach are an hour or two away.

That means next week will be light on posts, but then this is not Harry Potter. I’m sure you can bear the separation.

Eight of 100

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| posted by Joe Hice |

Invigorating the NC State Communications Network

Seems too obvious, but a vigorous university communications group appears to be a necessity at NC State. Especially given the charge provided by the Chancellor and the budget challenges every major university in the nation is facing these days. The group already exists, but there doesn’t appear to be a lot of structure around it and no real purpose except to provide an opportunity for communications professionals on campus to network from time to time.

The group at UF was fractured at times, but has pulled together during a strategic communications planning process that started before I left.  Be that as it may, there is a lot we can learn from the organization at UF, Michigan, Vanderbilt and other universities.  Sounds like a benchmarking opportunity to me.  http://ufcn.urel.ufl.edu/index.shtml

Group would need to include a steering committee made up of communicators from University Communications, the colleges, and key units across campus. Might also want to include a representative(s) from faculty and senior staff. Subcommittees for public relations, media relations, Web communications, internal communications and publications also make sense.  Best practices as well, but I think we’d benchmark best practices on the corporate side first.  The profit motive is a powerful influence and I think we can learn a lot from the commercial world.  Too many subcommittees may be difficult to manage so need to consider their focus carefully.

Initial task of the steering committee would be to develop a university-wide strategic communications plan. Not easy considering the decentralization on campus, but necessary to enhance the brand outreach and impact of the university on the local, state, national and international levels.  And isn’t that what we all need to be striving toward.

Objectives of the plan would be to provide processes whereby we could:

  • To consistently communicate unified messages and initiatives to NC State Communicators
  • To serve as a clearinghouse for  NC State issues, incidents and plans
  • To coordinate and promote training and professional development opportunities for its members
  • To take advantage of shared resources and ideas among members
  • To promote camaraderie among members

More details to follow in the days ahead and will be anxious to hear what people think.

I should note that the outline is based on work done at UF.  It has proven effective and will provide a great starting point for our efforts at NC State.

Seven of 100

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| posted by Joe Hice |

The academic success of STUDENT athletes

At many of our universities — public and private — our supporters tend to forget that our athletes are first and foremost, students.  You know, student athletes.

In my former life, it seemed like far too often we battled with the conference and the NCAA to highlight the academic side of the university.  While the athletic association understood the student side and was always in our corner, the conference was not always so easy to work with.  I know they understood/understand that academics comes first, but at times you had to ask yourself if that was a sure thing.

“We don’t have any space for you” was the constant refrain when we attempted to get space to display our academic success at conference, tournament and national championship games.  Well, just what do you think the University before the University of Florida means.  We’re an institution of higher education people!

So, I was very excited when I receive the “2009 Scholar Athlete Poster” from the Athletic Association here at NC State.  There in print, a celebration of the academic success of our Student Athletes; the names and majors of 208 athletes with a 3.0 or higher GPA’s for the Spring Semester.  Majors ranged from computer science, to math, to environmental technology and history and everything in between. Sports from football, basketball and baseball to rifle, soccer and swimming.

Congratulations to all the young men and women who made the list.  You help make NC State great.  And congratulations to the coaches, faculty, staff and everyone else supporting you along the way.   You go Wolfpack!

On the communications front, meetings and readings continue.  So much to learn.  While NC State is similar in many ways to my alma mater, it has its own style and personality and more of it shines through every day.  How to explain?  Like brothers and sisters.  Not really.  Like nieces and nephews.  Not that either.  More like friends who grew up together then moved away.  The foundation is the same,  but now it’s different.

Six of 100

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| posted by Joe Hice |

Flu bug strikes

Was all set for my first meeting with the Alumni Association publications team this morning when the flu hit. I know the media is hyping this Swine Flu thing to the nth degree — and I loath them for that —  but flu is a fact of life.

Think about it. We’re here on this college campus where there are more than 30,000 students. That means more than 30,000 young men and women who are in constant contact with each other and in constant motion. Of course flu is going to happen. It was made for this kind of environment.  Fortunately the folks at the Alumni Association are smart enough to stay home when they are not well. And that’s a good thing. I’m driving to Gainesville this afternoon and had I been exposed I could be spreading the bug over 500 miles of unsuspecting travelers. Heck, I could probably shut down “South of the Border” if I stopped in and infected the entire staff. But, that’s not going to happen.  I may be stopping, but won’t be infecting.

Will be spending the rest of the morning reflecting on the report titled, “An Analysis of University Communications Units of North Carolina State University.”

I think it’s ironic that the reports’ authors interviewed me about organizational structures in higher education as part of their study. That was a year before I’d even considered a move to Raleigh.  We’ll see what they have to say and begin the dialogue with university communicators to determine what makes sense and what doesn’t. (more…)

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| posted by Joe Hice |

Tuition increase? The place is already so inexpensive it’s almost free

Talked about tuition increases with a few folks today.  It’s understandable that the residents of North Carolina should expect a high quaility of education at a great price, and from looking at the numbers they appear to be getting just that.

A proposed increase in undergraduate tuition would put the annual cost of attending NC State University at about $4,100 per year.  Yep, $4100.  Let me ask you, how much does it cost to send your kids to day care?

I don’t want to be glib here.  A good education at a great price is required in the state, but I know of only one other state system that even comes close.  That would be my former home, Florida.  Some states, like Pennsylvania, charge as much as $12,000 a year for a high quality public education.  The national average is about $6,500.  We all need to applaud the NC Legislature, University System and the universities themselves for providing the opportunity to receive a world-class education at a bargain basement price.

In other areas, meetings with univerisity communicators and members of the new staff continue.  There is a real passion for NC State within the group.  The people really care — care a lot — about this place.  They all seem eager to work together on a variety of issues and I’m excited to begin the engagement process.  I’m sure there will be disagreements and probably a little pain, but the first four days have been great.  I know, I know; four days does not a year make.  Heck, not even a week.  But I’m very encouraged and look forward to the coming months.

Headed to Gainesville tomorrow afternoon to be with the family during the transition period.  It will probably be a few months before we’re here together.  I’m going to change  the Hice School rules a bit here.  For the record, Fridays, Holidays, Sick Days and Vacation’s won’t be counted toward the 100 days . . . unless I have time to post.  So stay tuned.

Four of 100.

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| posted by Joe Hice |

OMG, The Boss is 60!

Never mind the transition at NC State, Bruce Springsteen turned 60 today. Been doing the same thing for near on 45 years. Can you imagine doing anything that long, that well? I am impressed.

Another good day at NC State, in Raleigh and in North Carolina. Meetings with Deans, Directors, Department heads continue. Spent a little time with my awesome staff. I can’t believe they are putting up with this.  It’s part of the process so I beg patience.

A  highlight of the day was a visit to the College of Textiles where Hanesbrands announced details of a climb up Mount Everest with climber Jamie Clark. Hanes will introduce a new line of outdoor gear as part of the climb.  Good place to introduce a new line of lightweight, rugged, odor resistant gear I thought.

The company chose the College of Textiles to launch the expedition because it has been a leader in the development of new fibers and technologies; The things that make the new line of clothing possible.

Textiles has been around since 1899 and is the leader in the nation.  Lighter, more protective fire suit; new and improved hospital gown; nano fibers to extend the life of lithium batteries, all developed at the college recently.

Jamie tried Everest twice before succeeding on No. 3. He talked about his first two “failures” but said he viewed those tries as an opportunity to develop the wisdom necessary to get really hard things done.  Hanes says the trip will be promoted on line at www.climbeverestwithus.com.

 In addition to launching a new line of gear, Hanesbrands says it wants to “inspire others to accomplish their hard challenges.”

I hope I have that wisdom for the challenges here at NC State.

Three of 100

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| posted by Joe Hice |

Climb Mount Everest today at NC State

When:

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009

10:30 a.m. EST

View it LIVE via http://www.ustream.tv/channel/champion-web-event

Where:

North Carolina State University

College of Textiles

2401 Research Drive

Rm. 2431

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| posted by Joe Hice |

Two down

Another good day. My first Executive Committee meeting. It was raining so I pulled out the trusty umbrella (the Gator umbrella) and headed over. Closed it up and set in the corner so as not to attract too much attention. Well, the Chancellor walks in, spots the umbrella. He picks it up and heads out of the room. (NC State is not Orange and Blue.) We’ll have to fix that, he says. Anyway, after some good natured banter the meeting proceeds. At the end the Chancellor says “Come with me.” We go up to his office and he presents me with a Red and White NC State umbrella. Use this, he says with a big smile. So the Gator umbrella will remain in the car. The Wolfpack shade will accompany me wherever I go.

Two of 100

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| posted by Joe Hice |

Welcome to North Carolina State University

Well, this is it.  The first day on the job at North Carolina State University.  Overwhelming, intimidating, frustrating . . . NOT.  Everyone has been great.  There seems to be a real excitement on campus about what we’re about to embark upon.

I’m finding the biggest challenge today is getting to know my way around campus and around Raleigh.  Man, this is a big city.  No small town Gainesville here.  I actually had to drive on the Interstate to get to work.  With that, it took less than 20 minutes to get here.  And it is a big campus.

Definitely no shortage of projects in store, places to go, people to see. I’ll close for now, more to come.

One of 100.

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