Adrienne Nazon, a marketing and communications executive with more than three decades of experience in higher education and private industry, has been named the inaugural vice president of external relations and communications for the University of Illinois System, President Tim Killeen announced today. Nazon will begin work May 17 in an interim capacity, pending approval
Adrienne Nazon, a marketing and communications executive with more than three decades of experience in higher education and private industry, has been named the inaugural vice president of external relations and communications for the University of Illinois System, President Tim Killeen announced today.
Nazon will begin work May 17 in an interim capacity, pending approval by the Board of Trustees at its May 20 meeting.
Since 2015, Nazon has served as vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer for The Ohio State University, and earlier served as executive director of marketing for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
In the newly created position with Illinois’ flagship university system, the Chicago native will lead and coordinate the Office for University Relations, which directs communications, marketing and public affairs, and the Office of Governmental Relations, which serves as a liaison to federal, state and local officials and also leads a grassroots network that advocates for the system’s interests.
Combining those units under a single umbrella will build on and unify the system’s growing communications, outreach and advocacy efforts, Killeen said, as well as strengthening connections with its many stakeholders – students, prospective students and their families; faculty, staff and alumni; and donors, public officials and the citizens that its universities serve.
“Adrienne has the talents, the experience and the passion to tell our story – about the power of our three universities to transform students’ lives and to supply the workforce and innovation that drive progress,” Killeen said. “I am delighted that she is coming back home to help raise the visibility of a university system already recognized as a global leader in education and research discovery, and for its bedrock commitment to the public good.”
Nazon, 58, who was chosen through a nationwide search that drew nearly 70 applicants, said she is excited to return to Illinois and join one of the nation’s most accomplished and respected university systems.
“I look forward to helping share the many achievements, points of connection and impact of a university system that continues to grow as a springboard to success for students, as a pipeline of next-generation talent and innovation, and as a key partner in helping our communities thrive and prosper,” Nazon said.
Along with her system-level responsibilities, Nazon will work with its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield and with university-related organizations such as the U of I Foundation and campus-based alumni associations to coordinate unified and complementary communications, government relations and advocacy strategies.
She has led similar marketing, communications support and outreach efforts over the last six years in her current role as the first vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer at Ohio State, an institution comparable to the U of I System. The 60,000-student campus is a land-grant research university, like the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a Big Ten partner. It also is the flagship of a statewide university system that includes a healthcare enterprise similar to the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System in Chicago.
At Ohio State, Nazon has directed efforts that have strengthened the university’s brand and increased public awareness and engagement, supporting gains in both enrollment applications and fundraising. She also helped guide a collaborative initiative that brought together units from across the university – including athletics, regional campuses and the medical center – to create a strategic framework to grow efficiency, effectiveness and impact through the modernization of marketing and communications for today’s evolving markets and audiences.
From 2005 to 2015, she worked in marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she earned her MBA and rose to executive director of marketing before being recruited to join Ohio State. At Booth, she established digital marketing from the ground up, rearchitected the school’s brand position and helped expand the global footprint of a top-ranked business school with ties to nine Nobel laureates, more than any business school in the world.
Before her career in higher education, Nazon was a marketing executive in private industry in Chicago, working for Kraft Foods; Quaker Oats; the United Distillers and Vitners, a wine and spirits distribution company; and iSYNCH, a Chicago-based startup that became a leader in the global grocery and retail supply chain.
The daughter of first-generation college graduates who both earned master’s degrees and became educators in Chicago, Nazon began her career in information technology after earning her bachelor’s degree in computer systems engineering from Howard University.
The new vice presidency was created after a review in conjunction with February’s retirement of Thomas Hardy, who served as executive director of the Office for University Relations for nearly 20 years.
The new alignment will build on an already close working relationship between the system’s university relations and governmental relations offices. Along with directing communications and marketing, university relations also responds to Freedom of Information Act requests and inquiries from the public and media. Governmental relations has offices in Springfield and Washington, D.C. that work with legislators and government officials and also directs Illinois Connection, a grassroots network of students, alumni, faculty, staff and other supporters who advocate for the U of I System.
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