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Candidate knows crises

BY HOLLY HINES | NOVEMBER 10, 2009 7:20 AM

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Paul Allvin knows how to deal with a crisis.

A candidate for the UI vice president for Strategic Communication position, he said he has helped officials communicate with the public during two large rural fires, one of the longest prison-hostage situations in American history, a crippling gas outage, and one of the worst budget crises in Arizona.

“Nothing scares me at this point,” said Allvin, who now serves as associate vice president for communications at the University of Arizona.

Allvin also served as communications director for former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The native of Tuscon, Ariz., is the first of four candidates to visit campus for interviews and public forums this week.

If he’s hired, Allvin said, he would work to align UI officials’ messages and priorities while determining the best way to communicate the university’s varied stories. He did similar tasks for the Make-a-Wish Foundation as its director of communications, he said.

At Monday’s public forum in the Pappajohn Business Building, he answered questions submitted anonymously from an audience of roughly 70 people.

One audience member said many “regular Iowans” feel UI officials are overpaid in relation to the current budget crisis. Allvin responded saying he would convey to the public how university officials are “earning their paychecks,” noting research universities are at the forefront in addressing problems such as global climate change and illness.

“They are solving the problems that are going to save the world,” he said.

Allvin also said he feels the UI cannot rely on media sources alone to tell its many fascinating and important stories.

If hired, Allvin said he’d consider implementing some of the changes he oversaw at the University of Arizona’s news service. There, he helped develop UANews.org, a website featuring a collaboration of university, national, and international news, in addition to video footage.

Johnny Cruz, the University of Arizona director of media relations, wrote in an e-mail that the university will not comment on Allvin’s candidacy.

The vice president for Strategic Communication’s responsibilities will include, among other things, helping the UI gain recognition for its successes and improving relationships with university stakeholders, according to the job description.

Tim Paschkewitz, a graduate student in chemistry and member of the search committee, said he feels adding the position would be an investment in the long-term, surpassing any costs incurred with the hiring.

Director of Admissions Michael Barron said he is impressed by Allvin’s breadth of experience, and he thinks it’s critical to add the communications position, which has been vacant for eight years.

The second candidate to visit campus, Sandra Conn of the University of Alberta, will attend a public forum at 11:30 a.m. today in S-401 Pappajohn Business Building. Conn has served as the university’s chief creative officer and vice president for external affairs for three years.

Conn is a graduate of the University of Louisville and Northwestern University. She has taught English and humanities at both schools as well as at the University of Wisconsin, according to the University of Alberta’s website.

Before joining the University of Alberta, she was an assistant vice president at Michigan State University and Indiana University.


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