By Grace Apostol
Washington College established a new Marketing and Communications office. On July 7, the College’s news listing announced that Brian Speer was named Vice President of this office.
According to the news article, Speer “will have the opportunity to shape and lead the newly established Office of Marketing and Communications, focusing on increasing the College’s brand awareness.”
Brand awareness comes from President of the College Dr. Mike Sosulski’s idea to implement a new office of Marketing and Communications and add a Vice President to lead this change.
“There was no one person who was playing the point guard on that basketball team. We needed someone who was really in charge and could draw it all together,” President Sosulski said regarding past attempts to restyle the College.
Over several months, a search for a candidate to fill the vice president position ensued. According to President Sosulski, the College hired a national search firm and created a selection committee to narrow down experienced candidates for the job. After the completion of interviews, the committee brought three finalists, including Speer, to the College for final interviews.
“He brought a rich portfolio of experience from a couple of places that are really interesting and speak to what I want to accomplish here,” President Sosulski said regarding Speer’s ability to stand out from the other candidates.
After completing his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at Ohio University in Athens County, Ohio, Speer worked at Colby College in Waterville, Maine as the Director of Integrated Design for 19 years. From there, Speer worked as Vice President at both Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa..
According to President Sosulski, at Muhlenberg College, Speer completed “dynamic” work regarding the look of the College’s online platform.
“I have sort of had this experience doing it,” Speer said on why he chose to apply for the College’s position. “So when I saw the position description for what WC needed, and my family and I had been thinking about moving on, and we enjoy the mid-Atlantic region here, it just seemed like a natural fit.”
In this position, Speer will work directly under President Sosulski in his Senior Staff. “When you are a part of senior staff, you are tasked with looking institutionally at where the college is going, what the college’s goals are, and how you go about doing that,” Speer said. “You deal with the day-to-day and have to have a wider view.”
Speer will be running the effort to revamp the College’s image.
“I’ve been able to meet with a lot of people and get a sense of the institution and some of the needs, and I’ve been working to assess where we go to from a marketing and communications standpoint,” Speer said.
Though it is not known what precisely the changes will be, President Sosulski knows what additions need to occur.
“Whatever this [rebrand] is, we want to be true to the nature of who we are as an institution and what our core values and mission are,” he said. “I think we can do that in a way that also speaks really well to this generation of prospective students and parents.”
Speer’s approach to this project will depend on the culture of the College and those within it.
“The way that I approach what I do is really dependent on the culture, and it’s dependent on the faculty, staff, and students,” he said. “What their thoughts are on the institution, what’s good, what could use improvements, and that really helps me determine the best way to begin telling the story of WC.”
Speer plans to bring a story-telling culture to this effort. “Establishing a brand-storytelling culture, so really being able to increase our capacity to tell the stories of students and faculty, of students and faculty working together, of alumni, and the success of our graduates when they move on,” he said.
Speer was hired in July and began his new position on Aug. 1.
Regarding Speer’s first few weeks on campus, President Sosulski said, “I’m delighted. He has really hit the ground running.”
Photo courtesy of Brian Speer
Photo Caption: New VP of Marketing and Communications poses for photo.