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De Graffenreid to take post as SVP of Communications

Published: January 18, 2013
Section: News


Effective Feb. 1, Ellen de Graffenreid will assume her position, announced last semester, as the new Senior Vice President for Communications. Her appointment by President Fred Lawrence will replace former Associate Vice President for Communications Bill Burger. Andrew Gully served as the previous Senior Vice President for Communications before leaving.

De Graffenreid comes to Brandeis with experience in both higher education and the private sector. She previously served as director of communications for both the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center as well as the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina, at which she engaged donors and oversaw marketing and social media. Additionally, De Graffenreid worked on marketing and product development at Hewlett-Packard prior to entering education and has also worked as a private consultant.

Lawrence announced the appointment in mid-December.

“In her new role at Brandeis, Ellen will oversee all university communications initiatives, including media relations, government relations and public affairs, public relations, advertising, Web services and publications,” Lawrence wrote in an email last week. “She will report directly to me.”

Burger served as interim senior vice president after the departure of Gully in June. Gully now serves as worldwide director of communications for Sotheby’s and Burger has moved to a new position as vice president for communications at Middlebury College.

“I will be engaging the staff, as well as others across campus, in looking at the communications program’s challenges and opportunities and Brandeis’ overall needs to chart a course for the future,” De Graffenreid said. “I am already meeting with members of the communications staff and I am impressed with their knowledge of the university and their commitment to Brandeis’ mission and culture.”

While adjusting to her new role, De Graffenreid plans to spend a good deal of time getting to know the university. “I am most excited about meeting the faculty, staff, students and alumni, understanding what they are excited about, issues and programs they care about, and I’m looking forward to working together to communicate very broadly about Brandeis’ strengths and successes,” said De Graffenreid.

“Brandeis is a distinctive university and, as a communicator, those points of distinction provide outstanding opportunities to differentiate Brandeis from peer institutions.”

“One of the reasons that I like the field of communications and marketing is that there are always opportunities to improve on and build on what has been done before,” said De Graffenreid. “You can always do something differently or better.”

In addition to her resume, De Graffenreid has also done a great deal of pro bono work through organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program. “I like doing pro bono work with organizations that see a problem and take steps to address it,” she said.

“Not only does the Brandeis community discuss big issues—something that is common at universities—but at Brandeis individuals and organizations also take concrete steps to address issues on both a local and global level,” she said.