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UI names communication VP

BY KELLIE PETERSEN | JANUARY 18, 2010 7:30 AM

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On Feb. 15, the UI will fill a long-vacant position — vice president for Strategic Communication.

Tysen Kendig will assume the role, taking over for Jude West, who has served as the interim head since 2008.

Then-UI President Mary Sue Coleman’s administration eliminated the position because of budget cuts. Though the university is facing similar financial issues again, officials said, they need the position to help with strategic goals.

Kendig, the associate vice chancellor of University Relations for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, will oversee university relations. In the role, he’s responsible for the Office of University Relations, the Center for Media Production, UI Television, the UI Alumni Association, and Hancher Auditorium.

Kendig said he hopes to help the UI become more competitive through enhanced marketing and branding.

“We cannot afford to have those resources go out of state — that would compromise Iowa’s future,” he said.

Branding is more important than ever in the competitive educational environment of universities, he said, and that’s why he hopes to “help bolster the university’s brand.”

Though the future vice president has examined the UI’s communications systems, he said he needs to spend more time at the university before knowing exactly what changes he wants to make.

“Tysen has a very good sense of marketing the university,” said G. David Gearhart, the chancellor of the University of Arkansas.

Universities have a greater opportunity to directly reach audiences, so it’s important to utilize electronic media, said Kendig, who helped create a live university news-wire system at Penn State University.

But content still matters to him.

“Even if you have very modern and savvy communication vehicles, you still have to have good content. Content is just as important as the delivery vehicle,” he said.

Gearhart said Kendig has a transparent and honest approach.

“He doesn’t play games with the media or constituents,” Gearhart said. “It’s a very good attribute for anyone to have, especially someone in media relations.”

UI spokesman Tom Moore said he thinks Kendig’s strengths will help him with the new position.

“Kendig has a very strong background and experience and the exact skill set we are looking for,” Moore said.

And Kendig’s former employer could only think of one downside to his new position.

“The only negative about all of this is that we’re losing him,” Gearhart said and laughed. “He’s very good.”


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