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The George Washington University Is A Class Act In Constructive Comms

Week of 2/5-2/9 2024

What’s the deal: The George Washington University launched “Strengthening Our Community in Challenging Times,” a comprehensive plan to address the campus community’s response to the Israel-Hamas war while staying true to the University’s “foundational principles of free inquiry, intellectual rigor, open dialogue, honest debate, and mutual respect.” 

What they got right in their comms: President Ellen Granberg and Provost Christopher Bracey projected competence, compassion, and humility with their three-part plan to foster collective dialogue, strengthen partnerships and support, and review policies and procedures. Their constructive approach to navigating a seemingly intractable and politically explosive issue set themselves and GW apart from the leaders of Harvard, MIT, and University of Pennsylvania, whose responses before a hostile House committee in December kept their campuses at the center of national controversy, further inflamed their communities, and led to two of the three university presidents losing their jobs.

What’s the watch out: Granberg and Bracey admit that their plan, “while comprehensive, should also be thought of as a starting point,” and its success or failure will depend on many factors on and off campus that leadership cannot control. But “Strengthening Our Community in Challenging Times” is the kind of proactive, agenda-setting initiative that positions GW as a responsible actor in the highly competitive world of higher education where other elite universities appear to have left a void. We think GW has made a good bet that its announcement will give the university an edge with prospective students, parents, alumni, and donors now more than ever seeking out a school that combats anti-semitism and Islamophobia without sacrificing core commitments to free expression and open inquiry. For these reasons, we recognize The George Washington University's leadership #FortheWin. 

(Disclaimer: GW is not a Perceptual Advisors LLC client)

About the Author

Dan is a seasoned marketing and communications professional. He co-founded Perceptual Advisors with Claudia Gioia based on their shared belief that our work is—and must be—an instrument of business strategy, not an end unto itself. In his current capacity, Dan serves as the outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for several Perceptual Advisors clients, working directly with company founders and CEOs to craft and execute marketing and communications strategies geared to drive revenue and optimize profitability.

During his career, Dan has held several senior executive roles, including serving as Senior Managing Director with Teneo, a leading global consulting firm, where his clients included Softbank Vision Fund, Delta Airlines and Activision-Blizzard, among others. His corporate roles have included serving as SVP/Chief Communications Officer at eBay where he was responsible for the company’s brand strategy and all global communications. He also served as the Chair of, the company’s charitable foundation.

Previously he was Managing Director of Corporate Communications & Brand Marketing at Countrywide Financial Corp, and Senior Vice President of Issues Management and Public Affairs at VISA. Dan also led the corporate and financial practice in the western U.S. for Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s largest communications consultancies. Before that was the firm’s Market Leader in Miami. Dan also has public sector experience, having served as Vice President and Special Assistant to the President of The Beacon Council.

Dan holds a B.A. from Tulane University, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law.