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Pam Russell
Editorial & Media Director


For Immediate Release
November 20, 2018

State Relations Leaders in Maine, New York Honored for their Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has announced the recipients of the 2018 Service Awards in State Government Relations.

John N. Diamond, president and executive director of the University of Maine Alumni Association, will receive the Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Achievement Award.Dr. Robert Amler, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice and vice president for government affairs at New York Medical College, will receive the 2018 Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation.The honorees will be recognized at an awards luncheon on Dec. 6, 2018 at the 2018 Higher Education Government Relations Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Diamond was selected to receive the Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson award for his leadership in revitalizing the University of Maine's legislative strategy and standing in the state. During his 40-year career, Diamond worked as a journalist, state representative in the Maine State Legislature, and a campaign manager, among other roles. Those experiences helped him become an effective advocate for higher education as a government and public relations leader at the University of Maine, University of Arkansas, and University of Wisconsin.

During his tenure as Director of Public Affairs at the University of Maine, Diamond helped secure significant reinvestment in the University of Maine System through his signature integrated advocacy approach. According to then-Governor and current U.S. Senator Angus King:

"Under John's tutelage, the University's advocacy program reinvigorated the institution in the eyes of the Maine Legislature and all of Maine—a reputation it continues to enjoy today to the benefit of the entire state."

Diamond is well respected in the higher education community and is considered a mentor by many of his colleagues. "John's voice has impacted higher education policy and politics for decades," says Karen Zamarripa, former assistant vice chancellor for advocacy and state relations at the California State System and current president and CEO of Karen Zamarripa Consulting. "Many of us look to John when we face challenges in our day to day work for students and our institutions."

Dr. Amler is being honored for his groundbreaking leadership in elevating New York Medical College's profile among New York policymakers. Prior to his work at the college, Dr. Amler served as chief medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and regional Health Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

When Dr. Amler first joined New York's Medical College (NYMC) as a dean, the school did not have a government relations strategy and was largely unknown in government circles and the business community. Recognizing the importance of building relationships with state lawmakers, Dr. Amler built a government affairs operation from the ground up and successfully established the college as a policy influencer and leader in public health. As noted by Dr. Ben Watson, vice dean at NYMC:

"Dr. Amler leveraged his extensive experience in and connections with federal, state, and local agencies to bring to campus national, state, and local leaders in health care to the benefit of our students and faculty."

Dr. Amler led successful efforts to secure $10.25 million to create the Hudson Valley's first and only biotechnology incubator. Additionally, he secured funding for the NYSTAR Center for Precision response to Bioterrorism and other Disasters and to establish the Touro College of Dental Medicine at NYMC, the first new dental school to open in New York State in 50 years. According to Chancellor and CEO Edward Halperin, "Dean Amler has definitively elevated NYMC's ability to influence policy and enact change in the Hudson Valley Region and across the State of New York."

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.

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