Universities: Where speechwriters must remain in the closet

University of Guelph "scandal" reminds us that only leaders with dicier jobs than university presidents these days, are their speechwriters.

Under fire for having spent $20K with a PR firm for speechwriting for the president of University of Guelph (Ontario), assistant communication VP Chuck Cunningham told the Guelph Mercury that the consulting company is “helping us develop our strategic messaging and whatnot.”

More helpfully, Cunningham added that once, the company employed a staffer to research and write the presidential speeches, paying between $80-$90K.

“So we thought this was a frugal way to go with an individual and a communications firm that (Vaccarino) has been impressed by,” Cunningham said. “It’s an investment and it’s not unusual to see this sort of the thing taking place at any college or university.”

Nevertheless, the commissioner of academic and university affairs at the university, Peter Miller, told the paper, “We feel like this money should instead be used for the quality of education at our school, not for speechwriting and marketing the university.”

How to properly defend against such charges? First thing you do is huddle with your university speechwriter colleagues, at Concordia University in Montreal, April 16-17, at Leadership Communication Days, College & University Edition.

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