President Robert J. Zimmer has named Julie A. Peterson Vice President for Communications at the University of Chicago. Peterson is currently Interim Vice President for Communications at the University of Michigan and one of the nation’s leading academic communications professionals.
Peterson, named to the position after an extensive nationwide search, will be the University’s chief communications officer, reporting directly to President Zimmer as a member of his executive staff. She begins her duties July 1.
Peterson will be responsible for developing a strategic communications plan for the University and overseeing its implementation in order to strengthen media relations and communicate the University’s distinctive achievements locally, nationally, and internationally.
Additionally, she will build a sophisticated communications capability within the University’s central administration and advise President Zimmer and other senior officers on a broad range of internal and external communications. She will work closely with academic deans and officers to coordinate communications across the University and better integrate communications efforts with University planning, development activities, and alumni relations outreach.
She will have direct responsibility for the University News Office and University Publications, including internal news publications and the design and content of the University’s homepage.
“Julie has built an exceptional reputation at the University of Michigan and nationally through her leadership on a wide range of high-profile policy issues,” Zimmer said. “She has the depth of experience and an intelligent, thoughtful approach to communications that will allow us to develop and implement an integrated communications strategy. We look forward to benefiting from her leadership.”
Peterson said, “The University of Chicago is known for its unparalleled scholarship. The impact of its extraordinary faculty, alumni, students and staff is felt around the globe. I’m looking forward to joining this remarkable academic community.”
At Michigan, Peterson provided critical leadership for a number of important challenges. She managed, for instance, all communication efforts related to the university’s defense of its use of affirmative action policies in admissions, leading up to and immediately following the Supreme Court rulings in June 2003. She has coordinated an extensive public information and awareness campaign over a period of 10 years about the importance of diversity in higher education.
She also played a key role in a national communication effort regarding the university’s partnership with Google to digitize Michigan’s entire library collection of seven million volumes, working closely with Google staff, librarians, attorneys and government relations officers from the five university partners.
Peterson has held a variety of communications positions in higher education, beginning as Assistant to the Director of Communications for the Indiana University School of Business, Bloomington, in 1985.
In 1994, she was named Director of News and Information Services at the University of Michigan, managing a large public information and media relations operation.
In 2000, Peterson was named the university’s Associate Vice President for Media Relations and Public Affairs. In that role she managed emerging public issues, guided communications for university strategic priorities and initiatives, and became a senior adviser to the president and executive leadership team. She served as a liaison for communications with the Athletic Department, Alumni Association, Hospitals and Medical School, Division of Student Affairs and Department of Public Safety. She also worked closely with the University of Michigan’s development, government relations and community relations offices.
She was named Michigan’s Interim Vice President for Communications earlier this month. She currently oversees all aspects of both internal and external communications for the university, including communication policy, media relations, special events, advertising/marketing, and creative editorial and design services.
Peterson received a B.A. in journalism and psychology with high distinction from Indiana University in 1984 and an M.B.A. in marketing from the Indiana University School of Business in 1989. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is a graduate of William Fremd High School, Palatine.