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Fuchs stepping down as President at University of Florida

President Fuchs is stepping down at the University of Florida.
It’s a shame he is leaving on such a sour note given the recent missteps. He accomplished much while at UF but politics always gets in the way. I wish him well.
As our TV spot says: Go Gators; Go start a Fortune 500 Company, Go Write the Great American Novel, Go Cure Cancer, Go to Mars.
Good luck President Fuchs!



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Tesla offers holiday greetings

A Christmas gift from Tesla. You’ve really got to see it in person to appreciate all the sights and sounds (which are coming from the car’s stereo). Happy Holidays😎🎅🏼🎄


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The Tesla Saves the Day

Not long ago the family and I, along with the three Papillons, were driving to Atlanta for a family gathering. We left Tampa early and by 6:30 a.m. were nearing Ocala . . . and the morning rush hour traffic on I-75. So much fun.

The cruise control kept us on pace with the surrounding traffic and things were going fine. Fine, that is, until a large metal box fell off a truck in front of us and came flying toward the car. Literally flying. I mean it seemed to be heading right toward the windshield at 75 mph before it hit the front of the car and proceeded to roll under the left front wheel and left back.

Catastrophic Tire Failure!

Catastrophic Tire Failure was the alert that lit the dashboard as the car jumped, waking my wife, daughter, Hominy, Redford and Grits. Fortunately for us, the car, a Tesla Model Y, had detected the collision milliseconds before it happened and when the sidewall of the front tire blew we didn’t even move out of our driving lane. The car began a controlled slow-down and instead of swerving into traffic to our left or right, I was able to gradually move off the interstate and out of the traffic flow. I saw cars around us swerving to miss the tool box that had just hit us, but fortunately there was no accident. And all this happened at highway speed!

Every 40 miles or so there is a rest stop along I-75 and we just happened to be approaching a stop when the tire exploded. We safely limped into the rest area and started breathing again. The left front tire looked like someone had taken a box cutter to the sidewall. The front wheel was cracked. The back left had a puncture in the sidewall. Quite a mess you might say.

Uber took my wife and daughter, along with two of the dogs to the Tire Choice store in Ocala and the tow service took me, the car and the other dog to the store. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the wheel fixed and the tires replaced immediately so USAA took care of us by providing a rental car to continue our trip to Atlanta.

I love our Tesla. Even though it looks a little like a June Bug. It’s fast and fun to drive . . . and we NEVER have to stop for gasoline. We do recharge every three hours or so on road trips, but since we travel with dogs they get regular breaks and we get to stretch our legs and get a bite to eat.

After the Catastrophic Tire Failure on I-75, I can say without doubt that I will never go back. I like having a car that thinks and reacts faster than I can think and react. That can maintain control when disaster strikes at highway speeds. That probably saved me and the family from serious injury that morning in Ocala.

One of Many

Passion Rules!


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The University of Florida. The Foundation for The Gator Nation

When we created The Gator Nation campaign in the summer of 2005 our goal was to raise the awareness of what it meant to be a Florida Gator. Outstanding academic programs, a thriving student life, world-class athletics, and Gainesville, the best college town in America.

Dr. Machen believed we could achieve Top 10 status and perhaps even higher if we could only tell the UF story on a national stage. He put his money where his mouth was and allowed us to introduce a campaign that changed the paradigm in higher education, The Gator Nation!

Aided by that campaign and the support of Gators around the world, UF has been named the Number 5 public university in the Nation. I couldn’t be prouder of my two-time alma mater and all the hard work that went into this accomplishment.

And just think, 16 years ago it was just a dream. Today there has never been a truer statement, The University of Florida is in Gainesville. The Gator Nation is everywhere!

Enjoy some of the early work that kicked off the campaign.

The Gator Nation Commercial introduced in September 2005


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Currall steps down from USF

The past 24 months have been unprecedented in higher education and Steve Currall did a masterful job steering USF through the challenges of Covid-19, consolidation, budget cuts, systemic racism and more. He was always willing to listen and he wasn’t afraid to act decisively. He’s going to be missed at the helm of USF, but I’m glad to hear he will remain with the university in a teaching and research capacity. Here’s wishing Steve and Cheyenne Currall only the very best. Go Bulls!


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How Marketing and Public Relations Can Save Universities

From time to time I’ll see something that raises my hackles and a recent column in The Chronicle of Higher Education did just that. And I’m not alone. Here’s my response with my friend and colleague Grant Heston to a recent ditty in The Chronicle:

By Grant J. Heston and Joe Hice

In his July 9 Chronicle essay â€œHow Marketing and PR are Corrupting Universities,” Lee Vinsel describes how communications and marketing are “bullshit” to be banished from our colleges and universities.

Having held communications and marketing leadership roles with a half dozen colleges and universities in our careers, our response to the more than 2,000-word takedown of our profession is simple.

We agree completely. 

Spin, fabrications and deceptions — bullshit, in other words — have no place in higher ed or any industry. Fidelity to finding and sharing the truth about institutions is the foundation of the best communications and marketing work. 

Truth telling is our objective because telling our authentic, distinctive truth is how we build confidence in our institutions. In higher education, that means confidence for outstanding students and faculty to join us. For alumni and friends to give to us. For political, community and policy leaders to support us.

The reality is that the most recognizable higher education “brands” consistently attract the best students, staff and faculty; secure the most funding; gain the greatest accolades, and receive the most recognition in the press. All of which are critical factors in an institution’s health, growth and long-term success.

We believe the only enduring way to generate confidence is to tell the truth. Spinning a fiction may result in short-term success, but that success will be fleeting and ultimately self-defeating. Our constituencies are too savvy to settle for anything less than the truth.

Dr. Vinsel’s essay is particularly timely, as higher ed is suffering from a crisis of confidence. But burying our heads in the sand by not telling stories — shunning authentic, impactful communications and marketing work — is a bridge to nowhere. 

John Hitt, who spent 26 years as president of the University of Central Florida, often said “we like our story best when we tell it ourselves.” Colleges and universities must tell their stories, for today nothing less than the very future of the industry is at stake. 

A 2019 analysis by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that the 40-year return on investment on a four-year degree earned at Virginia Commonwealth University is to $892,000 in today’s dollars. The national average is $864,000.

With that the case, how can an April poll from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a philanthropic foundation, find that nearly half of the parents surveyed said they did not want their children to go straight to a four-year college, even if financial barriers to enrollment were removed?  

More than ever, we need to combat the growing narrative that tells of higher ed’s irrelevancy. As an industry, and as individual institutions, we must focus on improving the stories we tell.

For decades, colleges and universities have promoted how an undergraduate degree impacts your career earnings. We’ve pushed value in terms of dollars; we need to talk more about the values a degree instills. 

According to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, college graduates are more than twice as likely to volunteer in their communities than those without a degree. They also contribute nearly 3.5 times more money to charity and vote in presidential elections at rates more than 20 percent higher than those without a degree.

We also need to open our doors to all who want to earn a degree, then do all we can to support their efforts. Too often, higher education looks for the students in the same old places — but talent is not restricted to people with particular income levels or backgrounds. 

That’s why it’s so important to tell inclusive and diverse stories, as the University Innovation Alliance does, about enrolling and graduating students across the socioeconomic spectrum, first-generation students and students of color.

Stories are the foundation of how we interact with each other and the world around us. And there are few industries that boast more compelling stories than higher education.  

From medical school graduates who meet patient needs in unusual ways to understanding the origins of our galaxy to research that predicts 21st century life expectancies, our stories inform, inspire and delight.

Truthful storytelling can help lead higher education out of the darkness and into a future that is relevant and impactful.

That’s how Marketing and PR can save universities. And that’s no bullshit. 

Grant J. Heston is vice president for University Relations for Virginia Commonwealth University and the VCU Health System. He has held communications and marketing leadership roles at the University of Central Florida and Florida Southern College. 

Joe Hice is the founding partner of Well Strategics Communications, a full-service marketing andcommunications consultancy. He has held communications and marketing leadership roles at the University of Florida, University of South Florida and North Carolina State University as well as in the corporate sector with Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Segway LLC and Bombardier Sea-Doo.

Passion Rules!


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To Atlanta and beyond . . .

Just finished our second trip to areas north of Atlanta and back in the new electric car. I tell ya, it gets better every trip. We’ve scoped out just about every Supercharger Station between here and there and know where to stop and where not to stop. Despite the convenience of Superchargers every few hours of travel, some are better than others . . . and faster.

We nixed Ocala forever after our selected charger failed to connect. Then there’s the getting in and out part. Too much trouble when most of the stations are literally right off the Interstate. And no real good area to walk the dogs (three of ’em with us don’t ya know.) We even found a bad charger in Valdosta this trip. So yes, they are being used and we never had to wait for a charge.

Yes, the sleep most of the time although Redford (L) is more nervous. Grits doesn’t even notice we’re on the road.

When it wasn’t pouring down rain on the way back, I spent the drive dreaming about the new Tesla Model S Plaid. I just read the review by Motor Trend and it sounds amazing. Here’s a short clip. And if you don’t understand just how fast 0 – 60 in 1.98 seconds is, well.

When the final “launch control ready” message is displayed, firmly press your noggin against the headrest (trust us), release the brake, and hang on.

“The Model S Plaid zips down the quarter mile in a staggeringly quick 9.25 seconds at 152.6 mph. The run from 0 to 60 mph happens just 1.98 seconds after the brutally hard launch. The Plaid covers distance so quickly, it’s difficult to even register what’s happening. The yoke gets light in your hands, your neck muscles strain as your helmeted head digs into the headrest, and your surroundings blur into mere shapes and colors as a quarter mile of pavement vanishes underneath you.”

The biggest drawback I can see, or hear, is the growl of a high performance engine. Or rather, the lack of the growl of a high performance engine. Even though the new Model S Plaid has more than 1,000 hp on tap, it’s silent. As in electric car silent.

Be that as it may, the sensation you get when you are accelerating hard is impossible to explain. Even our Model Y screams from 0 – 60 in less than four seconds. I’ve never driven anything that quick and it’s a rush. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do 0 – 60 in less than two seconds (that’s a lie, I can imagine it.)

Perhaps we don’t need that second car for the few times both of us need to be somewhere different. We just need a car that’s quick enough to get us to both places at the same time!

One of Many

Passion Rules!


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Another long-distance drive in Electric Car

So we’re heading out again in the new car for Woodstock, GA and points north. Round trip is more than 1,200 miles when all the side trips are included. I think we’ll try a couple of different Super Charger stops this trip to see what’s available on the electric highway. Our range is about 300 miles at “highway speeds” and Super Chargers are every 100 to 150 miles so we have options.

So far we’ve stopped in Gainesville, Lake City, Tifton, Macon and ATL. I think Ocala and Valdosta are definitely on the agenda.

While we’ve loved being a one-car family, we have started looking for a second car in case both of us need to be somewhere at the same time and don’t want to take an Uber. Looked at this little beauty last weekend; a 1964 VW Beetle in fantastic condition.

The original economy car and the most modern economy car in the same garage? Might work. But we’re just starting to look around and will continue the search when we get back.

So for now on to ATL.

One of Many

Passion Rules!


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Driving the new electric VW ID.4

We’ve been driving the Tesla Model Y for about two months now and I’ve grown quite fond of the car. Fast, nimble, able to haul more mulch than a weekend can handle and highway range of 300 miles at 75 mph. Plus an incredible network of Supercharger Stations everywhere we’ve been. When I was given the chance to test drive another electric car I couldn’t resist.

The VW ID.4

The VW ID.4 is all new and should compete with the Tesla. It is a mid-sized SUV just like our car and has a big price advantage; around $40,000 before the $7,500 federal rebate available to new buyers. Range estimates are 260 miles, but EPA mileage estimates rarely live up to the claims.

The VW is nicely appointed and is much more similar to a “regular” car than the Tesla. It lacks the wiz bang technology and I found the cockpit busy and hard to understand. Yes, you would get used to all the stems and stalks in the VW but after driving the Tesla it all seems so unnecessary.

It’s not fair to compare the drive between the VW and the Tesla because the VW we drove had a single electric motor vs our two. Acceleration was good, but certainly a far cry from the Tesla. Because of it’s more typical chassis and frame design it did feel more car-like and honestly, over bumpy roads, the ride was very good. The Tesla drives like an old Porsche, taught with good road feel, but hard as a rock. The 20-inch wheels and low profile tires certainly exacerbate the bumps.

We bought an electric car because we wanted a change and the Tesla has certainly delivered. We charge overnight in our garage and stop at Superchargers when we’re on the road. But for those who aren’t ready for such a change, the VW ID.4 may be a good choice. It looks and drives like a regular car … yeah, it’s kind of bland. I’d hold out for the dual motor option which should be available early next year, though it will be about $14,000 more expensive. The acceleration and range should be more in line with the Tesla Model Y.

The VW uses the Electrify America charging network and you can find charging stations everywhere. Most do not charge as fast as the Supercharger Stations Tesla has placed along every major highway and for me, that’s a big negative. It’s one thing to make two stops for 20 minutes each on the way to Atlanta in the Model Y vs two stops for 45 minutes each in the VW.

The Model Y can charge at a rate of up to 250kW when connected to the Supercharger, while the Volkswagen is limited to half that, at 125kW. VW says the battery can fill from five to 80 percent in about 38 minutes. However, charging at any of the Electrify America stations is free for the first three years if you buy a new VW ID.4. If all of your driving is around town, and if you have an Electrify America station nearby, that’s hard to beat. Can you say Drive Free!

So, If you are thinking electric, you need to check out the new VW. It’s certainly going to have an impact on the market and worth a look.

One of Many

Passion Rules!