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Wednesday, 04 June, 2014

University of Pennsylvania Wins Inaugural AAVMC Excellence in Communication Award

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 4, 2014 – Ashley Berke, director of communications for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, has been awarded the 2014 AAVMC Communications Excellence Award.

Judges praised the strategic nature of Penn’s comprehensive communication program, with metrics linking communications programs to increased hospital visits, philanthropic contributions and overall awareness. Judges were also impressed with the schools exceptional performance with national media placements and integration with AAVMC communication programs.

“The AAVMC is pleased to recognize Penn Vet’s exemplary performance with this inaugural presentation of our Communications Excellence Award,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe. “I would especially like to thank all of the colleges that participated in our program during this important first year. I’m confident this award is going to play a major role in building a strong advocacy and communications program for academic veterinary medicine.”

Program highlights included Penn Vet coverage in more than 2,240 media stories, reaching an audience of more than one billion people; national placements with ABC, CBS, NPR, Fox, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and others; the development of a new recurring feature with CNN on the impact of animal health on human health; and a redesigned website that increased visitor retention by 13% and new visits by 12%. Facebook likes increased from 3,764 to 6,626 and Twitter followers increased from 2,778 to 4,325.

“The goal of our communications program is to play an integral role in changing and advancing the perception of veterinary medicine across the country and around the globe,” said Dr. Joan Hendricks, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

In commenting on the scope and quality of Penn Vet’s communication program, Hendricks said, “It is a mammoth undertaking for a small team and they handle it with aplomb. Each member of the team works tirelessly to ensure success, with a proven track record of results. I cannot think of a more deserving group to receive this award.”

Penn Vet’s communication program was selected by a team of judges that included communication professionals representing member organizations of the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP) in Washington, D.C.

The award includes a $1,000 honorarium, a plaque and public recognition. It will be presented during the annual meeting of the Association of Veterinary Advancement Professionals (AVAP) on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Honorees are invited to make a presentation on the winning communications program during the annual AVAP conference.

The Communications Excellence Award was established by the AAVMC Board of Directors in 2013 to recognize the important role of communications in advancing academic veterinary medicine and the profession, inspire higher level of performance and foster collaboration among member institutions.

The competition is open to communication officers who are primarily responsible for the management and operation of the communications program at an AAVMC member institution. The body of work considered runs from January 1 to December 31 of the year prior to the award presentation.

Criteria considered for the award include overall quality of the communication program, program success in telling the story of modern academic veterinary medicine to a diverse group of stakeholders, content shared with the AAVMC for integration with their national communications program, leadership and innovation.

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment by advancing academic veterinary medicine. Its members include 35 veterinary medical colleges in the United States and Canada, nine departments of veterinary science, eight departments of comparative medicine, thirteen international colleges of veterinary medicine, and six affiliate colleges of veterinary medicine:

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AAVMC MEDIA CONTACTS:                                                                                             
Jeanne Johnson or Jeff Douglas                                                                                       
Phone:  202/371-9195, x144                                                                                           

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