New spokesman named as department reorganizes

By Gus Bode

View the Marketing report in Microsoft Word.

SIUC has a new spokesman after the first phase of an overhaul in the campus’ communication department, which has recently been criticized for not having a marketing plan during a time of plummeting enrollment.

Rod Sievers, 51, takes over the public relations duties previously held for 15 years by Sue Davis, the former executive director of Media and Communication Resources, Interim Chancellor John Dunn said Monday.

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“I’ll tell it like it is,” said Sievers, who earned a radio-television degree from SIUC in 1977.

Davis departed the position in December to analyze how popular social Web sites such as Facebook can be used to market the university.

A plan to revamp Media and Communication Resources – SIUC’s primary marketing tool – could be on Dunn’s desk by Wednesday, said Mike Ruiz, communications director for the Office of the President.

A report by the higher education marketing firm SimpsonScarborough in the fall semester called for the reorganization of Media and Communication Resources, also calling it a public relations office that is not an effective marketing operation.

“Contributing to this issue is the lack of clear campus priorities, messages and focus on key audiences,” the report stated.

Ruiz, who is temporarily serving in Davis’ former post, was tasked at the end of the fall semester with developing a new setup for the department. He said he is deciding how to position the 20-plus Media and Communication Resources staff.

“I’m trying to build something that will last,” Ruiz said. “I’m just trying to put people in the right slot.”

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The department consists of several writers, photographers, graphic designers and other media professionals. Ruiz said he hopes his proposal puts the staff’s talent to use.

Sievers, formerly an associate director in Media and Communication Resources, won’t actually work in the department. He earns a new title – assistant to the chancellor for media relations.

“It’s a job I know I can do because I’ve been in media all my life,” said Sievers, who worked for nearly 15 years as an anchor and producer for local television stations before coming to SIUC in March 1999.

Ruiz said he did not know if Sievers would get a raise because payroll is not a factor in his restructuring proposal. He also said no one would be fired under the new model.

“I believe that every staff person has value,” he said. “No one is going to be laid off.”

While chided for its lack of marketing, the department’s former director Davis came under fire in 2005 when material from a speech she wrote for former Chancellor Walter Wendler contained portions of another author’s work.

The SimpsonScarborough report stated Media and Communication Resources has been perceived as controlling, and it must prove it can listen to others in the university.

There is a lack of pride on campus and Media and Communication Resources must regain trust it lost throughout the university, the report also stated.

Sievers said he would be more open to the media than the university has been in the past, though he would not elaborate when asked if he was referring to a particular person.

“There’s no sense in looking back,” he said.

View the Marketing report in Microsoft Word.

[email protected] 536-3311 ext. 254

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