Sherry Knight, associate vice president of University Communications, announced today she is stepping down June 30 to co-found an executive communications firm.
Knight joined Central Michigan University in May 2012. President Bob Davies said Knight has built a high-functioning department that serves the entire university through its integrated marketing, communications and design teams.
Under Knight's direction, University Communications launched extensive, multichannel marketing and expanded Central's brand through widespread use of maroon and gold and the iconic Action C. She honed CMU's messaging to focus on the university's expansive, hands-on learning experiences; nationally recognized student leadership opportunities; and the personalized paths students forge in collaboration with faculty and staff. Knight also leveraged the strong sense of community that differentiates Central from its peers.
"From my first meeting with Sherry, I was impressed with her depth of insight and expertise," Davies said. "She is a talented alumna who has made enormous contributions to CMU and whose influence, in setting the right voice and tone, will have lasting impact. The clients of her new firm will find tremendous value in her work."
Knight moved CMU into the age of digital marketing and significantly expanded its social media presence. She led creation of Our CMU, the university's twice-weekly news digest; oversaw its 2013 web update; and helped solidify Central's culture, marked by initiatives such as its Leadership Standards and Fire Up Fridays.
She has played a lead role in CMU's current market research and web redesign projects. She and the UComm team in 2014 launched Central's "Put Your Stamp on the World" marketing campaign.
"It has been uniquely rewarding to come back to CMU as an executive," Knight said. "I am beyond proud of the University Communications team members, who serve CMU with profound dedication and remarkable abilities. They're innovative, collaborative and share a deep sense of accountability.
"All of our accomplishments are team accomplishments, and I move on knowing University Communications is in the hands of true leaders," she said.
Knight and her husband, Jim Knight, an adjunct journalism faculty member at CMU, are founding an executive communications firm that will launch this summer. Prior to CMU, Knight led such a firm for 16 years, following an award-winning career in corporate communications and journalism. Sherry and Jim both have journalism degrees from CMU.
Davies names interim; national search to begin soon
In the interim, Davies appointed Heather Smith, CMU's director of communications, to lead the university's marketing and communication efforts. Smith first joined CMU's public relations team in 2006. She left CMU in 2011 to pursue opportunities at AGP & Associates in Midland and with the city of Mount Pleasant, but returned in 2014 as senior associate director of public relations. She was named director of communications in August 2017.
Davies said a search committee will soon be appointed to lead the search for Knight's replacement. The committee will be assisted by a national search firm.