October 7-10, 2012, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Session Details

There's Life Beyond the Four-Year University

#MPD6 Management and Professional Development Track

103 A & B, Frontier Airlines Center


Understandably, much of the research and professional development for higher ed communications professionals is geared toward those for whom the undergraduate population is the primary market/audience. While many of the challenges faced by communicators for graduate/professional schools and continuing education programs overlap with those of our undergraduate counterparts, we also face unique sets of problems (e.g., integrating our particular communications needs and goals with those of a parent institution, a student-base that is perhaps more skeptical about traditional marketing techniques) and advantages (e.g., our prospective students are already familiar with many higher ed processes and we can generally spend less time worrying about marketing to parents). This panel discussion will serve as a brain dump on which communication strategies have worked for three professional schools. In addition, participants will work together to identify challenges and advantages and suggest resources and strategies for addressing both.


Aaron Rester
Senior Manager of Electronic Communications, University of Chicago Law School

Aaron Rester built his first website in 1996, and has worked in the higher ed web since graduating from Oberlin College in 1999. He has worked at the University of Chicago Law School since 2007. He has presented at several conferences and been published in A List Apart and Link Magazine.

Tonya Oaks Smith
Director of Communications, UALR William H. Bowen School of Law

Tonya Oaks Smith (@marleysmom) has spent most of her adult life smoothing frayed edges, herding wet and hungry cats, breaking down silos and perfecting the #facepalm –- all while dancing backwards and in heels with a big smile on her face. A former reporter who sold her soul and then redeemed it by moving to communication for a public university, Oaks Smith is a fan of the words "y'all" and "malheureusement" -- not necessarily in that order, and prefers the em dash to commas. She’s currently the director of communications for the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law. In this role, she manages the communications, marketing and public relations strategies of the law school in accordance with its mission, objectives, directives and policies. In 2010, she completed her master's degree in applied communication studies. 

Shari Erwin
Marketing Director, The University of Tulsa College of Law

Shari Erwin (@sharierwin) is a marketing technologist, content strategist and general web geek. Prior to joining TU College of Law, she was the web communications coordinator for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, supporting student recruitment efforts and image advertising campaigns through storytelling and online community engagement.  Erwin spent more than a decade working in television and was first in the market in developing a multi-platform news sharing strategy for KLRT/KASN in Little Rock. She has a master’s degree in Technical and Professional Writing from UALR where she continues to teach an online rhetoric class.