Burke appointed vice president of communications following Cliatt’s departure

The College has named Kevin Burke as vice president for communications, effective March 7. Burke assumes the new office following the departure of Cass Cliatt, former vice president for communications, from F&M to become vice president for communications at Brown University

Burke began at the College in December 2013 as associate vice president for communications; however, around that time, Cliatt went on maternity and medical leave, elevating Burke to the position of acting vice president for communications in her absence. When Cliatt announced her permanent departure from F&M, Dan Porterfield, president of the College, approached Burke and offered him the position of vice president based on his experience managing the Office of
Communications.

Following their initial conversation, Porterfield encouraged Burke to speak with other administrators and members of the Board of Trustees to confirm that Burke was the best fit for the position. All parties asked expressed confidence in his abilities, and Burke was able to officially step into the role of vice president for communications at F&M.

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Photo by Emma Brown ’17

The College’s Office of Communications has responsibilities that go beyond posting photos and articles online: It manages the College’s image and media relations and shares information with the F&M community. It has been involved in projects such as the redesign of the College’s website and is now reworking Inside F&M as well as rebranding the College’s student admission materials.

Composed of 14 staff members, Burke pointed to their experience, commitment to excellence and self-improvement, creativity, and willingness and ease to collaborate as factors for the success of the Office of Communications. But describing his own position and responsibilities, he pointed not to a particular task, but the people in his office.

“My responsibility is to help, assist, guide, mentor, to a degree, the great professional staff here in communications,” Burke said. “I’ve worked at a number of other higher education institutions — including places like Notre Dame — and person-for-person, this is the best communications team I’ve ever come across.”

In the coming weeks, he hopes to speak with other members of F&M’s leadership team to discuss vision, strengths, and strategies.

“It’s natural when there’s a transition in leadership to take some time and assess where the organization is,” Burke said. “What do we do? Who do we do it for? How well do we do it? Can we do it better? What are our strengths and weaknesses? What are our alignments? Can we make some changes — substantial or otherwise — to make us more effective? So we’re going to engage in this process, I hope, in the coming weeks.”

Graduating from Western Michigan University with degrees in English and journalism, Burke began his career as a reporter with the South Bend Tribune and the local NBC affiliate. He has also held myriad positions in communications at institutes of higher education including the University of South Florida, Ball State University, and the
University of Notre Dame.

“I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in this role,” Burke said. I’m grateful to the president for his confidence and to others — my colleagues on the leadership team, my colleagues here in in Communications, the members of the Board of Trustees, who also voted their confidence in me.”

Junior Steven Viera is the Managing Editor. His email is sviera@fandm.edu.

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