About CASE

Pam Russell
Director of Communications


For Immediate Release
Dec. 4, 2014

State Relations Leaders at Northern Iowa, Western Washington Recognized for Advocacy Work

NEW ORLEANS—A former journalist who has helped secure her institution multiple increases in state aid and a dynamic consensus builder who advocated on behalf of two public institutions for more than three decades are recipients of the 2014 Service Awards in State Government Relations.

Jeneane Beck, state relations officer at the University of Northern Iowa, is the recipient of the Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation. Sherry Burkey, former director of government relations at Western Washington University, is the recipient of the Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Achievement Award.

Both will be honored today during an awards luncheon at the 2014 Higher Education Government Relations Conference in New Orleans.

The two awards are given annually for leadership in state relations and institutional advocacy. They are the only national awards in higher education state relations, a field that encompasses advocacy and outreach efforts on behalf of colleges and universities to governors, state legislators and other key policymakers.

The awards are administered by the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Jeneane BeckBeck has worked as state relations officer at Northern Iowa since 2011. Previously, she worked for 18 years as a television and radio reporter. She has applied the communications skills she learned as a journalist in creative ways to advocate for her institution. She builds understanding among legislators in one-on-one and group meetings, briefing documents, fact sheets, brochures, electronic media and events.

Recent key initiatives include:

  • Since Beck assumed her role, Northern Iowa's state appropriations increased 8.5 percent in fiscal year 2013, 2.6 percent in fiscal year 2014 and 7.5 percent for fiscal year 2015. In addition, the institution garnered $10 million in one-time funds in fiscal year 2014.
  • Beck established UNI Day at the state capital during which students and faculty members from various academic departments and centers set up displays about their programs and are available for conversation with lawmakers.

In nomination materials, State Rep. Bob Kressig remarked: "She is a great example of collaboration on issues and problems. When I have a legislator come to me with questions about UNI, I make sure she is part of the discussion with both Republicans and Democrats. She is always working to gather information to make sure we understand the issues."

Sherry BurkeyBurkey served as associate vice president for university relations and director of government relations at Western Washington from 2005 until her retirement this fall. Previously, she was in similar leadership positions for 21 years at the University of Washington. She served as a trusted adviser to the president on legislative strategy at both institutions and is highly respected by legislators because of her passionate advocacy of public higher education.

Recent key initiatives include:

  • In passing a budget for the 2013-15 biennium, the state legislature invested more than $272 million—a 12.9 percent increase—in public higher education while at the same time freezing student tuition increases at 0 percent. Western Washington realized a 27.9 percent increase, the largest increase of all institutions.
  • Burkey was one of the driving forces behind the 2011 creation of Western Advocates, an advocacy group that is a partnership between the United Faculty of Western Washington and the Western Washington University Alumni Association. The organization mobilizes stakeholders at levels to ensure the institution is heard at the state capital. During the 2012-13 legislative session, Western Advocates generated more written communications to legislators than any other public higher education institution in the state.

In nomination materials, Steve Swan, vice president of university relations at Western Washington, noted: "Sherry Burkey is recognized at the state capital in Olympia as one of the most effective and successful government relations professionals in recent decades. Her footprint of success is evident on both the WWU and UW campuses by new or enhanced physical facilities and academic programs, funding for faculty and staff positions and salaries, and for overall student success."

The Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Award, named for the former director of state government relations at the universities of Arizona and New Mexico, comes with a crystal award. The Edwin Crawford Award, named to honor the 40-plus years of state government relations work by Edwin Crawford, a former director of public affairs and state relations at CASE, Auburn University, the University of Virginia, Ohio State University and the University of California System, also comes with a crystal award.

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