VP for University Relations finalists’ visits set

Open fora will take place on campus for each of the three finalists for lead University communicator

VP for University Relations finalists

Finalists for the position of Vice President for University Relations will visit campus and take part in open fora April 9-18. They are (left to right) Tom Hutton, Joseph A. Brennan and Lisa Van Riper.

Three finalists have been invited to campus to interview for the Vice President for University Relations position. Open forums have been set for each candidate. Resumes for each candidate can be found here.

  • Tom Hutton will interview April 9 and 10, with an open forum set for Monday, April 9, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.
  • Joe Brennan will interview April 11 and 12, with an open forum Wednesday, April 11, 3:15 to 4:15 in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.
  • Lisa Van Riper will interview April 18 and 19, with an open forum Wednesday, April 18, 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.

Biographies were written and provided by each candidate.

Tom Hutton

Tom Hutton

Tom Hutton

Tom Hutton is executive director of university communications and media relations at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

As executive director, Hutton provided oversight for internal communication, media relations, strategic communication and digital communication for the 12,400-student designated growth campus of the University of Colorado. He was named executive director in 2009 and previously served as director of the UCCS office of university relations and as an adjunct graduate instructor in the UCCS School of Public Affairs.

In February, Hutton announced his resignation from UCCS effective June 30 after more than 18 years of university service.

Prior to joining UCCS, Hutton served as director of the office of university relations at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and as a newspaper reporter and editor in Kansas, Iowa, and California.

He earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado, Denver, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.

Joseph A. Brennan

Joseph A. Brennan

Joseph A. Brennan

For more than 25 years, Joe Brennan has helped universities and colleges develop and implement powerful brand narratives and establish distinctive marketplace positions. He has a knack for finding the story behind the numbers, and a talent for working with creative professionals to bring that story to life.

Joe’s ability to listen carefully, interpret research findings, and craft powerful narratives has allowed him to create outstanding results for the universities he serves. Among his many accomplishments are:

  • Guiding the messaging strategy to build support for major changes to how higher education is funded in New York State – resulting in $100 million in new revenue for a major research university.
  • Devising a multi-channel campaign that changed how taxpayers perceived a Big 10 institution – contributing to an enrollment surge, and helping fend off funding cuts of up to $60 million.
  • Crafting communication and audience engagement strategies that helped a public radio station achieve its three biggest pledge drives and the highest ratings in 20 years.
  • Leading a professional association to double its membership, attract the highest sponsorship levels and produce the two best-attended conferences in its history.
  • Directing a fundraising communications program that helped a private university in the West to raise $377 million, exceeding its goal by 78 percent.
  • Planning and producing a low-cost event that generated more than 1 million media impressions for a community college and was recognized by Bulldog Reporter as the “best public relations campaign” in America.

A superb writer and gifted public speaker, Joe has the ability to turn abstract concepts into clear and compelling language that inspires audiences to take action. He is frequently asked to present at conferences and appear on podcasts and webinars. He’s conducted live on-stage interviews with former First Lady Laura Bush and branding experts The Beekman Boys.

Joe is an authority on issues management and crisis leadership. Drawing on his political acumen and ability to understand organizational culture, Joe provides counsel that enables his employers to navigate highly-risky situations. He has managed the messaging and served as spokesman for dozens of critical incidents, including:

  • An early-morning fire that destroyed an apartment complex, displacing 250 students
  • A power outage that took a large section of a campus offline for a week
  • Allegations of racially-motivated violence that drew national news coverage and social media, including tweets from a presidential candidate and an NFL player
  • Scrutiny of intercollegiate athletics departments, coaches and student-athletes
  • Campus unrest, including efforts to force presidents out of their jobs
  • Lawsuits against university officials
  • Internal conflicts that risk the ability of leaders to lead
  • Serious injuries, fatalities and violent crimes

Joe earned an MA and PhD in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo, an MBA in Marketing from University of the Pacific, and a BA (summa cum laude) from Wayne State University. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and three other academic honor societies.

He is accredited in public relations and is a Fellow of the Public Relations Society of America. He has twice been named “communicator of the year” by his peers, and his work has been honored with dozens of regional and national awards. He is also a certified practitioner in CultureTalk, a method for helping people understand themselves and each other more clearly, based on the pioneering work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung.

Joe holds faculty appointments as a clinical professor of business and an adjunct professor of management information science at two State University of New York campuses. He teaches college courses and conducts research in public relations, marketing and mass communications. His 16 peer-reviewed and professional articles include pieces in Inside Higher Education , Trusteeship and University Business. His work has been written about in best-practices articles in CASE Currents and Campus Safety magazines.

Lisa Van Riper

Lisa Van Riper

Lisa Van Riper

Lisa Van Riper leads communications and outreach for one of the most advanced water resource recovery facilities in the United States. She has worked in this role for more than three years, and established the communications department and its foundational staffing plan, strategic plan, processes, and tools. She also led the organization’s rebranding, which unified its identity with team members and the community. She currently oversees integrated communications, including content strategy and storytelling, external communications, public relations, education and outreach, internal communications, executive messaging and presentations, special projects, and events.

Prior to her water industry career, Van Riper was assistant vice president, university communications at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. She turned around the communications department to better serve campus partners, and managed a large and complex team, budget, and processes. She also led innovation to increase visibility for the university, including tripling media placements, developing a social media team and program, devising an online advertising strategy, and creating the internal communications function.

She also worked at CarMax, Inc. as assistant vice president of public affairs and store marketing, where she established the public relations and social media practices, and the CarMax Foundation. During her tenure, CarMax made national news regularly even though it had stores in 35 percent of the United States. She also led the program to secure a place for CarMax on the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.

During her career, Van Riper and the teams she led have won more than 35 awards for communications excellence, from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), American Association of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES), and National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).