Marketing Communications Leadership
Ron Elsenbaumer, January 8, 2018
In the two and half months since I arrived on campus, I have been learning a great deal and evaluating functions across the campus, particularly as we prepare for the realignment. As we continue working towards our transition to Purdue University Fort Wayne, one of the areas of prioritization is to significantly enhance our external marketing and communications function for this institution. As such, the first step in this process will be to make Marketing and Communications its own division, with a direct reporting line to the Chancellor.
Early last spring, a professional consultant was hired to assess the university’s marketing communications efforts and noted in his final report that it is a best practice in higher education to have the marketing leader be a cabinet-level position and report directly to the Chancellor or President. This person is responsible for the university’s overall brand building strategy and communications, including internal communications, and media/public relations. Additionally, the report highly recommended the university conduct a cost-benefit analysis of all university funds now expended for marketing/communication-related activities to optimize impact on the university’s marketing/branding goals.
In the immediate future, I am focused on hiring an experienced interim chief communications director who will focus on delivering an immediate communication and marketing strategy, particularly as we work with SME (our brand marketing partner) in establishing Purdue Fort Wayne. Until the interim chief communications director is named, Kathryn Hopkins will continue serving as the interim Director of Marketing Communications, and Nicole Hahn, Public Relations Specialist, will split her time between the Chancellor’s office and Marketing Communications to provide additional support for the department.
In the longer-term, the chief communications director function will be elevated to a Vice Chancellor position. Our human resources department will partner with Purdue West Lafayette’s Executive Recruiting Services to conduct a nationwide search. I will ask for your input during this recruitment process and plan to include your suggestions in various ways throughout the process. It is important to note that this change will be at the very least revenue neutral, but with the clear intention of a significant cost savings as the division will undergo further review and evaluation with the anticipation that coordinating marketing efforts will allow for overall budgetary savings.
Finally, I want to offer my sincere appreciation to Angie Fincannon, Vice Chancellor for Advancement, for her many contributions to Marketing Communications since being hired. Angie will continue her outstanding leadership over the advancement division, which includes both the development and alumni relations functions. As public funding for higher education dwindles nationally, it is now more important than ever for her time and energy to be focused on raising money, developing community relations and securing resources for the institution.
Thank you, and please know that updates will be shared with the campus as we progress through this important and timely change in structure.