For almost three decades, R. Ellyn Perrone has served in governmental relations for nationally known universities. Her service was recognized and honored this week by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). Perrone, senior associate vice president for research and federal relations at The University of Texas at Austin, was selected to present the Betty Colden Memorial Lecture for the APLU Council on Governmental Affairs (CGA). This award is presented when appropriate to a member deemed a national leader in governmental relations.

She was appointed to her current position in 2005 and her work focuses on raising UT Austin’s national profile, increasing funding from federal agencies and Congress, and all policy issues impacting higher education. Perrone is the liaison for the university with the U.S. Congress, federal agencies, and also engages in strategic program development planning.

Prior to her position at UT Austin, she served as the vice president for government relations at The Ohio State University, where she led all aspects of the university’s relationship with federal, state and local government, and established the university’s Washington, D.C. office.

She began her career in governmental relations at Texas A&M University, where she worked in a number of roles before becoming vice president for governmental affairs.

Perrone learned firsthand the importance and impact of governmental policies in her decade as a social worker for the State of Texas in the area of child abuse and neglect.

As she acknowledged in her speech, the work she and her colleagues do is often unsung and perhaps even unknown to the greater university campus. However it is vitally important to ensure universities, and the extraordinary work, they do continue to thrive.

“We are optimists, distance runners, true believers, and totally committed to the mission of our universities,” she said. “When we are disappointed with the outcomes or that our strategies did not get the traction we hoped, we keep “swinging for the fences.”

The APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The award presented to Perrone recognizes CGA member excellence in the spirit of the late Betty Colden, who made significant, compassionate contributions to the CGA, APLU and the profession of governmental relations. It is one of only four awards presented to members by the organization’s CGA.