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University Communications leader to move into Advancement position

Melinda Church Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Melinda Church
Credit: Courtesy of OSU

The leader of University Communications is stepping into an Advancement position at the request of her superior. Meanwhile, senior vice president for Advancement Michael Eicher is reviewing the structure of the communications office with President Michael Drake.

Vice president of University Communications Melinda Church will assume the new position of vice president for advancement integration and communications on Monday, according to emails from Church and Eicher, which were provided to The Lantern on Friday.

The emails announcing the move were dated Sept. 25 and said Church will serve in the new role for the “coming year.”Ann Hamilton, executive director of marketing and communications for the Fisher College of Business, will serve as the acting vice president of University Communications.

“I am excited about this opportunity, although it means leaving behind an unbeatable team that is doing imaginative, highly effective communications and marketing work,” Church said in her email.

The announcement of Church’s new position comes roughly three months after Drake took office.

Church had assumed her position as vice president of University Communications in March 2013, after coming to OSU in 2007 to serve as an executive officer to then-President E. Gordon Gee. Church’s position as vice president entailed leading efforts to build the university’s brand and reputation.

She also led University Communications’ reorganization after joining the office in January 2012. That reorganization included dividing the office into five units, all of which answered to Church. She earned a $295,800 base salary in 2013 — a raise from the $208,000 she earned before the communications restructuring.

But Eicher said in his email that structure could change again.

“President Drake and I are completing a review, which began early last spring, of the reporting alignment and organizational structure of University Communications and the institution’s marketing and communications functions,” he said.

He said that review and potential restructuring would look to “maximize the gains made through integrating University Communications into the Advancement model.” He also noted Hamilton will help complete the review.

Advancement includes the areas of communications, engagement with the alumni community and fundraising for the university.

Church declined to comment Friday through OSU spokesman Gary Lewis. Information about her salary and the reason for the change was not immediately available. The Lantern also filed a request for her and Ann Hamilton’s employment files Friday.

Church mentioned in her email some of what she plans to do in her new position.

“I aim to build new programs that more fully involve alumni and friends with the life of the campus and to develop even more powerful means to communicate the ways in which private support for public education changes lives,” she wrote.

Eicher wrote about the new position in his email as well.

“This new position will more fully leverage our Advancement model by developing programs that weave together communications, alumni relations and fundraising activities,” he said. “I also have asked Melinda to focus her communications and marketing skills on establishing priorities, best practices and optimal approaches for fundraising-related communications across the university.”

University Communications has experienced several other staffing changes in recent years. Most recently, Chris Davey started as the assistant vice president of media and public relations Aug. 11, after the person previously in that position, Gayle Saunders, left in February. Saunders had been at OSU for a year and a half.

A few months after Saunders arrived at the university, her subordinate and then-senior director of media and public relations Jim Lynch left in fall 2012  — after seven years in the position — to serve as special assistant to the director for budget communications at the Ohio Office of Budget and Management. He is now the communications adviser for the state of Ohio. Current senior director of media and public relations Gary Lewis started summer 2013.

4 comments

  1. Come on!! $295,800 base salary!! She’s likely a nice, talented woman, but that’s about triple what a position like that should pay.

    That kids are going into debt and families into home equity lines to pay salaries like that is just a moral crime, plain and simple.

  2. So, the public’s right to know and openness becomes subservient to fund-raising priorities and advancement’s need to diminish donor and potential donor trauma and upset. One thing I will say for them, they are very good at verbalizing bovine fecal matter.

  3. The bureaucrats continue to secure their positions. Who gets a 40% pay increase! Clearly a culture of haves and have nots. Gee didn’t need a position like this because he was dynamic enough to raise funds on his own. Drake is too busy reviewing reports, padding the bureaucracy and appeasing title XI zealits.

  4. Anonymous for a reason

    The “new position of vice president for advancement integration and communications”? What could this possibly mean? It’s all double-speak. How about devoting some more attention to substance (e.g., students, teaching, research) instead of pouring even more money into what seems like the new PR department?

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