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Rick Rockwell becomes new head of communications
Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble believes the academic understanding and industry experience of Rick Rockwell, make him the right choice to fill the role of Chief Communications Officer of Webster’s Global Marketing and Communications (GMC) unit.
“I think it’s very rare, at least in my experience, to be asked to do something. That someone recognizes your talent somewhere else and says, ‘that will fit over here’. That doesn’t usually happen,” Rockwell said.
President Stroble and Julian Schuster, provost and senior vice president, appointed Rockwell on July 18 to succeed Barbara O’Malley.
“[Rockwell] is kind of the right person at the right time for that position because he knows Webster well,” Stroble said. “We really need the academic voice and the academic profile and signature of Webster to be communicated well.”
Rockwell joined Webster in 2014 as the associate dean of the School of Communications. He worked on special initiatives, such as graduate and online programs, worked with Webster’s metropolitan and military campuses, and offered communication classes.
“This is a really different shift from being an administrator and teaching in the school of communications. It’s a very different mode,” Rockwell said.
“I don’t feel like my primary concern is only students now, I think about a lot of other parts of the university that add up to supporting students.”
Rockwell also runs a pod cast called Latin Pulse where he speaks about Latin culture, politics and social issues. Jim Singer, the Student Media Coordinator of the School of Communications, helps Rockwell with the production process of Latin Pulse.
“I know he’s fair minded, he’s dedicated and he’s a man of great principle and he does his best to be the best he can be,” Singer said.
Rockwell said his new role is to support faculty programs through marketing and community-based communications.
“As somebody who came up through journalism, my job is to be a storyteller. And my unit, GMC, at its heart is a storytelling unit, too,” Rockwell said. “I see my role as helping [GMC], stir them at maybe some stories that they didn’t notice before or faculty who were not highlight- ed in the past.”
One of Rockwell’s goals is to create a welcoming atmosphere to attract students. He is leading the GMC in a program called Webster Voices, where they spotlight two faculty members from each of the five departments on campus.
The GMC is currently building a website for Webster Voices and hopes to publish it this fall semester.
“If we are going to attract more students and have a good and strong diverse student body here, that really begins with tell- ing students who want to come here why they should be interested in Webster University,” Rockwell said.
Limited resources are one of the challenges Rockwell said the GMC is dealing with. He said maintaining focus and being creative is what the GMC is trying to do.
“How do you get more out of not so much,” he said. “If we can, with fewer resource tell those particular stories, then I think that’s important.”
“[Limited resources] make your job a little more difficult but not impossible,” Singer said. “It just makes you figure out creative ways to pulling things off that need to be pulled off and Rick is, beyond all of his intelligence, a very creative guy.”