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Ohio State Communications restructures around Melinda Church

University Communications has been restructured, and Melinda Church is the umbrella over it all.
Church, whose role as the sole vice president of University Communications was recently expanded, recognized that the department’s structure couldn’t stay the same forever, and she was going to be the one to change it.
“We need to be controlling our own destiny,” she said. “The organizational model that made sense 10 years ago isn’t the best way to be moving forward.”
So Church has been working since last summer – with the help of other university officials – to restructure University Communications, and on March 1, the new layout became official.
University Communications is now divided into five main units, four of which are led by someone who was already in the department, and all of which answer to Church.

– Brand and Marketing – Assistant Vice President for Brand and Marketing Jacquie Aberegg is in charge of this unit that deals with the designers and visual identity at the university.
– Interactive Communications – Assistant Vice President for Interactive Communications Ted Hattemer heads this unit that deals with digital initiatives. It is what Church called the “new product development” unit.
– Media and Public Relations – Assistant Vice President for Media and Public Relations Gayle Saunders leads this unit in dealing with the media. This unit didn’t change much from the previous structure.
-Editorial Communications – Writers will come together under Assistant Vice President for Editorial Communications Doug Haddix to attempt to use their skills to tell OSU’s stories to “multiple audiences using the same core message,” Church said.
-Relationship Managers – Two relationship managers, Karen Patterson and Steve Proctor, will reach out to the different colleges to find stories to tell.

Before the restructuring, University Communications was organized more around the audience, Church said. Groups such as potential donors and friends, alumni and internal communications were all thought of as separate audiences.
Church said that first of all, University Communications needed to be saying the same message to its collective audience, and secondly, the thought of internal communications ­- telling the staff something and then a week later telling the media – made her laugh in today’s world.
“We’re just folding things up in ways I think that make better sense,” she said. “The place is the size of a medium-sized city basically, so it’s pretty tricky to navigate, but you just have to enjoy it.”
Church’s salary will increase to $290,000 from $208,000.
Haddix, who’s salary will also increase to $150,000 from $110,000, will also maintain his role as director of the Kiplinger Program, which trains journalists on digital tools. But a job is also posted for deputy director of the Kiplinger Program, who will take on some daily responsibilities of the program and allow Haddix to scale back there.
Haddix said Editorial Communications was one of the final pieces in the restructuring puzzle. He will manage a team of 20 people – writers, photographers, videographers – in identifying stories.
Before the restructuring, the team members focused on different publications, such as “Ohio State Alumni Magazine” or “Ohio State Impact.”
“What we’re hoping to do is bring all these folks together that’s focused on storytelling and not focused on one particular publication,” Haddix said. “I think this will unleash a lot of innovation and a lot of creativity by having all these folks work together.”
Church’s expanded role will help fill the void Tom Katzenmeyer, senior vice president of University Communications, left when he was appointed president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
“She will ensure we have a laser-focus on our efforts to heighten Ohio State’s image and reputation with local, state and national audiences,” said Michael Eicher, senior vice president for Advancement (Church’s immediate superior), in a Tuesday press release.
About a week into the new structure, Church said she hasn’t found any tragic flaws – yet.
“I’m pretty excited,” Church said. “I know we’ll have hiccups along the way, but I believe in the mission of this place.”

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