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College names Reische as VP of Communications

There’s going to be yet another new face on campus this year and this time it’s the new Vice President of Communications. Jim Reische, who formerly worked with the University of Michigan’s Office of University Development and more recently as a campaign strategist, will be beginning his Grinnell career on December 5th.

“There was one position before that covered both communications and development and alumni relations,” said President Raynard Kington, explaining the rationale for the new position. “Many schools … separate those two functions, so we separated them. … We thought there was a lot of work to be done.”

Reische will be taking over from Angela Voos, Special Assistant to the President, who has served as the acting Vice President of Communications for a few months . The S&B was unable to reach Reische for a quote.

According to Kington, Reische will have his work cut out for him, both over the long and short term.

“It’s … everything from internal communications: the big constituents internally are faculty, staff, and students, and also external communications … the sort of national media relations … reaching out to alumni and potential donors, … So it’s a pretty broad portfolio,” Kington said.

An item near the top of the to-do list is engaging alumni. Grinnell’s newly created alumni portal, The Loggia, is in need of an overhaul, according to Kington.

“There’s a strong message that I’m getting that alumni feel that we don’t do a good job communicating with them,” Kington said. “Many feel very frustrated … with The Loggia, which is the way you get in.”

Also on the list is Grinnell’s web presence, another medium where the College has thus far only seen lackluster results.

“We just finished an … external audit … and not surprisingly, it came out pretty negative. We don’t have a great website for prospective students, or for anyone. … Jim will have responsibility for how we’ll change our website,” Kington said.

Fortunately, these changes are already in motion. Although Reische has some plans of his own, the College has not been idle in the months before his arrival.

“Some of that’s already occurred … I think he will be spending a lot of time learning our culture … both our strengths and our weaknesses,” Kingtonsaid. “He’s going to have communication with our constituencies … to get a sense of what people think are the big problems … in terms of communications, and how we can do a better job.”

Revamping Grinnell’s public presence will be a lot of work, but Kington maintains that the new Vice President will be more than up to the task.

“He’s really looking forward to coming in and rolling up his sleeves,” Kington said.

“He’s a really creative guy, smart … he actually started out in the academic world … I think he planned to go off … as a professor, and for lots of reasons, it sounds like he decided he liked this side of things better.”

“He both understands that the college is a great institution, but also one that could do a better job in how we talk about this institution and communicate … what we stand for, and how we express that.”

Reische was selected for the position after a long national search. President Kington recounts interviewing twelve candidates from around the country, deciding on Reische after a number of meetings and visits to the college.

For everyday students, these changes will have a real impact.

“Over time, you’ll see a real effort to … do a better job,” Kington said . “You’ll see more experimentation. We’ve never really done well with social media … and he’s very tuned to social media, and you’ll probably see more of that. It’s the whole nine yards. Facebook, Twitter … how we interact with various groups of people on our web page [and] two publications for alumni.

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    John WylieOct 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    As ’75 Class Agent and a journalist, publisher and crisis PR specialist since 1971 this sounds like precisely what we need. I was delighted when I got the email from the college last week and even more delighted with President Kington’s comments here. Looking forward to working with him.