My years at the University of Calgary were rewarding and fun. The president at that time, Murray Fraser, set high standards and ruled with a velvet hammer, although he generally had a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He was a generous mentor, and a friend. Much of the credit for these awards belongs to him.

Gorbachev: The Calgary Visit

Gangsters and Gorbachev — Learn what those two have in common from Rod Chapman, who handled media relations during the former Soviet president's 1993 visit to the University of Calgary. The news services coordinator can also tell you how to accommodate three times the number of reporters you expected. For an award-winning article he wrote on his experience, click here.
Case Currents Magazine

Grand Gold Award

Judges' comments: "A well-prepared, thoroughly thought-out, and efficiently executed project that produced noteworthy and measurable results. Significantly, it changed perception of the event from negative or indifferent to positive."

Silver Leaf Award

My entry was among the top eight per cent of more than 200 entries in the category Media Relations: Information Kits. Judges commented that it "reflects thorough organization; clear and practical."

Silver Award

Judges' comments: "A very high magnitude of organization and effort reflects thorough research and exhaustive preparation. The results were clearly as desired: international attention and prestige as well as a major monetary return on a modest dollar investment... A major effort very well executed!"

1994 Learned Societies Conference

The Learned Societies Conference is an annual gathering of academics and experts from the social sciences and humanities held at a different Canadian university each year. Unique to Canada, it is the single most important academic conference of the year. Media, however, historically viewed the gathering through jaundiced eyes, either by largely ignoring it or by singling out arcane paper topics and in coverage and tone framing university research as irrelevant or insignificant. Read more about how that perception changed.

Gold Award

The 1994 Learneds won a Gold from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for Best Public Relations Program. The judges said: "A well-prepared, thoroughly thought-out, and efficiently executed project that produced noteworthy and measureable results. Significantly, it changed the perception of the event from negative or indifferent to positive."

Silver Award

Judges said: "An excellent program. You achieved and surpassed your goals on an extremely limited budget. Great use of resources. The judges were particularly impressed by the buy-in from the media and the community at large, and your success at creating and maintaining public interest where there had previously been none, or very little. Your objectives and results were clear from beginning to end. Very good planning and evaluation. This is obviously the result of some clear and strategic thinking. You knew precisely what you wanted to achieve and succeeded beautifully – and you proved it. Very professional, attractive publications. Congratulations! (But did you really want people to read those 94 things to do in Calgary??!)"

65% and You're In!

Problem: Early indications of a potential drop in student enrolment of about 750 students – the first shortfall in the university's 29-year history – were confirmed in May 1995.

Solution: An internal strategy team and the university's agency of record mounted an aggressive advertising campaign designed to reverse the perception among a highly targeted audience of prospective students that it was difficult to get into the U of C — and to do so within a six-week time frame.

Results: Enrolment on Sept. 6, 1995, the first day of classes, was up by 8.2%, and additional tuition fees amounted to $2.5 million. But not everyone was happy with the campaign.

First Place

Judges said: "Swift, professional management of a crisis that was unforeseen. Appears to have a good handle on collateral PR damage (ie devaluing of U of C degree). Mitigating action seems well in hand."