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Utah State University Names Director of Government Relations

Monday, Nov. 22, 2010

Neil N. Abercrombie

Neil N. Abercrombie, director of policy research with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, will head up the USU's government relations office beginning Dec. 8. He replaces Michael J. Kennedy, who was hired as Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s chief of staff.

Utah State University President Stan L. Albrecht named today a new director of government relations.

Neil N. Abercrombie, director of policy research with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, accepted an offer by Albrecht to head up the university’s government relations office beginning Dec. 8.

Abercrombie will help USU garner state and federal funding for key academic programs and research projects. He replaces Michael J. Kennedy, who was hired earlier this month as Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s new chief of staff.

With the annual session of the Utah Legislature only weeks away, it was critical that the university fill this position in a timely manner and that it be filled by a person who can hit the ground running, Albrecht said.

“We are very fortunate to be able to turn to Neil at this crucial funding period for our university,” Albrecht said. “He brings with him a wealth of policy knowledge and experience with the Utah legislature. The relationships he has developed throughout the state in his work with the league of cities and towns will strengthen university ties with local business and community leaders statewide.”

Abercrombie, a USU graduate, said he bleeds Aggie Blue and is excited about the opportunity to return to USU in this new capacity. He said his work in public, political and governmental affairs the past five years has prepared him well.

“I come with experience and understanding of the state of Utah and how the legislative process works,” he said. “My involvement with cities and towns throughout the state makes for an easy transition from advocating for Utah municipalities to championing the state’s land-grant university, especially knowing how important USU’s regional campuses are to our communities.”

Abercrombie said USU is well positioned for the upcoming legislative session, thanks in part to the groundwork laid by Kennedy and Albrecht and the respect legislators hold for USU’s president.  

“There is already a good system in place,” he said. “It makes it easier not having to repair or rebuild trust. For USU, that already exists.”

For the upcoming session, Abercrombie said he plans to advance Albrecht’s key priorities for the university including faculty and staff compensation and the new doctoral veterinary science program.

Abercrombie has been a policy analyst with the league of cities and towns since 2004. In that role, he has also been a legislative advocate for Utah communities statewide, a job that taught him the importance of collaboration, he said.

In his work with the league, Abercrombie formed and directed the Utah Benchmarking Committee and the Utah Policy Advisory Committee. Both of these committees work collaboratively on policy advocacy issues with academic institutions, community leaders and municipal governments.

In addition to his work as a legislative advocate, he is well known among local elected and state officials and business and civic leaders. He has been a frequent presenter before legislative committees and civic organizations. His experience also includes work as a legislative analyst with Foxley, Pignanelli, and Associates.

Abercrombie earned a bachelor’s degree from USU in Law and Constitutional Studies in 2002 and a master’s degree from USU in political science the following year. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah that he expects to complete by spring.

He is married to Mica McKinney, a 2002 USU graduate who went on to earn a law degree from the University of Utah. She now practices with the Utah law firm Ray Quinney & Nebeker.

Abercrombie is currently serving on five committees: the Capitol Club of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Wasatch Front Economic Forum, the Mountain West Planning and Design Academy, the University of Utah Center for Public Policy and Administration Policy Advisory Board, and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Contact: John DeVilbiss, 435-797-1358,

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