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Building Influence through Advocacy Networks

Lead: Chris Murray, Vice President for Advancement and Jack McIver, Vice President for Research

Vision: More than 34,000 University of Idaho alumni live and work in Idaho. While that is a large number, there are many more potential students and stakeholders that are not intimately familiar with the important work of the university that enriches their daily lives and builds the prosperity of the state. An opportunity exists for us to improve our relationships with key stakeholders through the voices and advocacy of our alumni.

In the original innovation proposal, Steve Johnson suggests that we work closely with alumni – both individually and through social media and other networks throughout the state – to better educate them about key university activities, so that they in turn can influence a variety of audiences including potential students, donors, and legislators. Our statewide presence and impact through academic centers, Research and Extension Centers, and County Extension Offices links our faculty to these alumni and many other influencers statewide.

This Strategic Innovation Initiative suggests we coordinate these existing resources into an integrated network that can help recruit students, increase donations, and influence legislative funding to support our mission and maximize our service to the state.

This is an opportune time for us to undertake these activities. Steve Johnson has been working to build alumni chapters, and their members are anxious to help the university. In addition, our Government Relations structure is undergoing reorganization as Legislative Relations Director Marty Peterson undertakes a phased retirement after a long and productive career. Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Steve Neiheisel is working to build a recruitment network across the state so that we can attract more high-quality students with a diverse array of backgrounds. And, finally, the Office of University Advancement is in the silent phase of an ambitious fund-raising effort, and as such seeks to reach more Vandals, friends, and organizations statewide that benefit from our university’s work, with the hope of inspiring them to invest in our future. All of this work is consistent with Goal 3 of the Strategic Action plan which states that we must form mutually beneficial two-way partnerships with the people and communities of the state.