Maine higher ed leader receives national award

John Diamond
John Diamond

John N. Diamond, a longtime higher education official from Maine, has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the nation’s top award for higher education advocacy and state relations.

On Thursday, Diamond, currently president and executive director of the University of Maine Alumni Association, received the Marvin D. “Swede” Johnson Achievement Award in Atlanta as part of the annual Higher Education Government Relations Conference. Diamond had been named a finalist for the award in September.

The award is given annually for leadership in state relations and institutional advocacy, a field that encompasses advocacy and outreach efforts on behalf of colleges and universities to governors, state legislators, and other key policymakers and influencers.

The award is administered by four Washington, D.C.-based higher education organizations: the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which manages the selection process.

Diamond was selected for the award for his leadership in revitalizing the University of Maine’s legislative strategy and standing in the state during 1990s and 2000s. During that period, Diamond served as UMaine’s director of public affairs and as executive director of external affairs for the University of Maine System. Diamond helped secure significant reinvestment in the University of Maine System through his innovative “integrated advocacy” approach, which strategically incorporates a wide range of communications and engagement practices to advance an institution’s public agenda and relationships.

Diamond was nominated for the Johnson Award by Jeffery N. Mills, president and CEO of the University of Maine Foundation, and James S. “Jake” Ward, UMaine’s vice president for innovation and economic development.

“Under John’s tutelage, the university’s advocacy program reinvigorated the institution in the eyes of the Maine Legislature and all of Maine — a reputation it continues to enjoy today to the benefit of the entire state,” wrote U.S. Sen. Angus S. King Jr., in an endorsement of Diamond’s nomination. King served as Maine’s governor from 1995–2003.

Diamond has been a leader in higher education advocacy at the national level, explained Karen Y. Zamarripa, formerly the assistant vice chancellor for advocacy and state relations for the California State University System and the 2004 recipient of the Johnson Award.

“John’s voice has impacted higher education policy and politics for decades,” Zamarripa wrote, noting Diamond’s influence on advocacy practices at the state and national levels. “Many of us look to John when we face challenges in our day-to-day work for students and our institutions.”

Prior to becoming a higher education administrator in 1992, Diamond had been a journalist and UMaine journalism professor. He also served eight years in the Maine State Legislature, including four years as House Majority Leader. In 2010 he joined the University of Arkansas as associate vice chancellor for university relations and later served as interim associate vice president for external relations and strategic communications for the University of Wisconsin System. In 2015, he was named president and executive director of the University of Maine Alumni Association, which advocates for policies and resources that support UMaine, its students and 109,000 alumni.

A Bangor native, Diamond resides in Blue Hill, Maine with his wife, Marcia.

Established in 1995, the Marvin D. “Swede” Johnson Award is named in honor of a longtime state relations and advocacy official at the University of Arizona and, later, the University of New Mexico.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745