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Pam Russell
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For Immediate Release
Dec. 10, 2015

State Relations Leaders at University of South Carolina Beaufort, CSU Fullerton Recognized for Advocacy Work

AUSTIN, TEXAS—Two external relations professionals known for their collaborative approach to achieving big gains for their institutions are recipients of the 2015 Service Awards in State Government Relations.

Lynne W. McGee, vice chancellor for advancement and external relations at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, is the recipient of the Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation. Owen Holmes, associate vice president for government and community relations at California State University, Fullerton, is the recipient of the Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Achievement Award.

Both will be honored today during an awards luncheon at the 2015 Higher Education Government Relations Conference in Austin, Texas.

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.

Lynne W. McGeeMcGee has been at USCB since 2006. Previously, she was director of enrollment management and a visiting professor of marketing at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus. Although she was new to government relations work when she started at USCB, McGee drew upon her considerable marketing and strategic communication skills to tackle the issue of disparity in funding for three South Carolina comprehensive universities. She developed crisp and focused messaging and communication strategies and built relationships in the community, in the USC system and in the South Carolina Statehouse; and worked collaboratively to achieve the new approach to funding.

Recent key initiatives include:

  • As a result of a three-year, multi-university advocacy campaign, "Parity for Students: Collaborative Advocacy for the University of South Carolina," USCB's recurring state funding increased from $1.4 million to $2.9 million, effective July 1, 2015.
  • A project involving students, community members, alumni, faculty and staff led to the development of a new mascot (name, colors and design) to represent USCB's new intercollegiate athletics program.

In nomination materials, State Sen. Tom Davis remarked: "Dr. McGee developed the idea of a systems approach to addressing parity funding for the USC Comprehensive institutions. … Without the strategic thinking of Dr. McGee, … this legislative win would not have been possible. Her collaborative approach is a departure from the usual 'you get yours and I'll get mine' approach."

Owen HolmesHolmes has worked in external relations at Cal State Fullerton for the past 25 years and was named associate vice president of government and community relations in 2003. He worked collaboratively with senior campus leaders, faculty, staff, students and alumni to build and develop a government relations and advocacy structure the university two decades ago. This program has garnered more than $9 million in federal funding for campus programs and projects. State and local officials point out his leadership in the area of external relations and his tireless efforts to build strategic relationships, involving multiple stakeholders, for Cal State Fullerton.

Recent key initiatives include:

  • The California State Legislature voted this year to fully fund the budget request of The CSU system for the first time in more than a decade. Holmes and his team at Fullerton helped solidify support from the Orange County state legislative delegation that contributed to this very successful outcome.
  • Holmes was the driving force behind the creation of the Orange County Public Education Partnership (OCPEP), a group that offers a coordinated voice of support from alumni associations, foundations, and community and business leader advocates. The partnership had its beginnings in 1994 when Holmes approached Orange County Community Colleges and UC Irvine about working together on behalf of public education. The OCPEP model, formalized in 2002, has received national attention for its success.
  • An agreement with Orange County Board of Supervisors, finalized in 2009, brings $300,000 to the campus each year to curate and manage the county's collection of artifacts, fossils and geological specimens. This multi-year, renewable agreement is the result of a decades-long effort involving deans, faculty, community and alumni.

In nomination materials, Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council, writes that Holmes has become a "leader in both issues of higher education and the needs to connect institutions beyond their own walls and directly with the local communities. These connections, built through his purposeful direction of efforts with our business community, nonprofit community, and regional leadership bodies, have created the opportunities for Cal State Fullerton to be impactful with local, state and federal officials."

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.

About CASE

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