Longtime university communications leader to step down
John Veilleux, vice president of University Communications and chief marketing officer, today announced that Heather Smith, executive director of University Communications, will step down from her role at the university effective Feb. 4.
“Heather has played a significant role in shaping strategic and crisis communications for CMU,” Veilleux said. “Her insightful counsel and wisdom have been a necessary constant during times that are best characterized as chaotic, reactive and challenging. In moments like these, clear communication is essential, and many people across campus, myself included, have benefited from her expertise. She will be missed.”
Smith came to CMU as an undergraduate student in the integrative public relations program and was co-founder of PR Central, CMU’s student-run public relations firm. After earning her bachelor’s degree in 2002, Smith held roles at Weber Shandwick Worldwide and Special Olympics Michigan before returning to CMU as assistant director of public relations in 2006.
After earning her master’s degree from CMU in 2011 and, following two years as communications director for the city of Mount Pleasant from 2012-2014, Smith returned to CMU and held roles including senior associate director of public relations, director of communications, and interim associate vice president of University Communications, before assuming her current role as executive director.
In each of her roles at the university, Smith has been an advocate for the transformational power of education at CMU. Directing a cross-function team, Smith led the planning, development and execution of internal and external communications strategies, sharing the university’s mission, vision and values through storytelling, visual media, social media and proactive media relations. Smith also led the university’s crisis and issue response communications, providing guidance and support for university leaders, faculty and staff.
Her contributions to the university include:
- Overseeing CMU’s COVID-19 preparedness and response communications.
- Playing a lead role in CMU’s emergency communications during the March 2018 campus shooting.
- Implementing new policies guiding social media practices.
- Assisting with the development and launch of the university’s new brand and website.
She also has been a frequent guest speaker and presenter at CMU’s Public Relations Student Society of America events and workshops, as well as in many IPR classes. Her service to the university and the greater Mount Pleasant community also includes serving as a member of the CMU United Way Campaign Committee, the United Way of Isabella County Board of Directors, CMU’s IPR Alumni Association Board of Directors, and more.
Smith will join Michigan-based communications consulting firm Paladin Communications but said she will remain Fired Up Forever as a proud and engaged CMU alumna.