Di Saunders, OUS communications director: 971-219-6869;

PORTLAND, December 19, 2013 – Bridget Burns, former chief of staff for the Oregon University System, has been recognized by the Council for the Advancement of Education and other national organizations for her leadership in state relations and institutional advocacy. This is the only national award in higher education state relations, a field that encompasses advocacy and outreach efforts on behalf of colleges and universities to governors, state legislators and other key policymakers.

Burns, who is currently an American Council on Education Fellow at Arizona State University, received the Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation on December 13 during an awards ceremony at the 2013 Higher Education Government Relations Conference in San Francisco. The Crawford Award is given annually and is administered by the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Melody Rose, Oregon University System interim chancellor said, “We are very proud of all of Bridget’s contributions over the last few years during a time of intense advocacy and change in the System. Our appreciation extends to CASE and the other higher education support organizations for their important recognition of Bridget in helping to advocate for students and Oregon’s public universities.”

Prior to beginning her fellowship with ACE, Burns served as chief of staff for the Oregon University System where she provided leadership to the government relations division, oversaw state contract lobbyists and coordinated campus government relations staff from all OUS campuses. In her current role as an ACE Fellow, Burns is under the mentorship of Arizona State University president Michael Crow, learning about transformational change and university innovation.

Key initiatives by Burns during the past three years included contributing to the successful legislation for passage of Senate Bill 242, a historic package of governance reforms for the university system, and House Bill 3471, a bill that covers the tuition gap for former foster youth. She also developed, fundraised and directed the Oregon Social Business Challenge, a business plan competition positioning undergraduate students to pitch solutions for statewide social, economic and environmental problems identified as unsolvable by policy leaders.

Burns said, "I am deeply humbled by this award, which I believe honors the great work and support of my mentors, colleagues and peers more than anything. This is only possible because the State of Oregon gave me such rich opportunities to learn, innovate, and contribute." (See video tribute here.)

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