Administrative shake-up restructures top University positions

Sunday, June 22

Several administrative changes announced at a Board of Trustees meeting Thursday will significantly transform part of the University’s executive landscape.

Officials announced the promotion of two University administrators, and the consolidation of the Communications and Government, International and Community relations divisions, into the division of External Relations.

The move will put GW’s primary lobbying division and its communications operations side-by-side under one vice president. Communications currently oversees University relations, events, advertising, media relations and media partnerships with companies like CNN and XM radio.

General Counsel Beth Nolan, who formerly served as White House counsel, will continue to serve as the interim vice president for government, international, and community relations as a senior vice president. Additionally, Chief Human Resources Officer Val Berry was promoted for his work on President Knapp’s cabinet, University Spokesperson Tracy Schario said.

Under the consolidation, the vice president of communications position – which is currently held by Michael Freedman – will be eliminated with the merge into the new external relations division. The University announced that Freedman will head a new initiative, the Global Media Institute, which will conduct modern media research and manage GW’s broadcast and new media enterprises.

Freedman, who will continue to act as vice president of communications until the University fills the new position, said he does not mind the transition from the executive level.

“I have always been a sleeves-rolled-up administrator,” Freedman said. “In my new position, I will have a smaller staff and a more focused portfolio and that’s all fine.”

Beginning in July, the University will conduct a national search for a vice president to head the External Relations division, but Schario predicted it would be several months before one was found.

“We hope to find someone as quickly as possible,” she said. “But it will take definitely take time.”

The resignation this spring of Richard Sawaya, former vice president for government, international and corporate affairs, and GW’s chief lobbyist prompted Knapp to rethink the GW administrative structure, Schario said. She said Knapp believed the University would benefit from a centralized public affairs office, which is in place at Johns Hopkins University where he served as provost before coming to GW.

“With that spot open, President Knapp was able to move to consolidate the two divisions under a single vice president,” she said. “Many universities, corporations, and non-profits have external relations housed in one department.”

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