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UW-Madison announces vice chancellor for university relations

June 23, 2009 By John Lucas

Citing his deep knowledge of the University of Wisconsin–Madison community, his effectiveness as an ambassador on behalf of the institution and his experience, UW–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has selected Vince Sweeney to be the university’s first vice chancellor for university relations.

Sweeney, who has since 2002 served as senior associate athletic director for external relations, is tasked with coordinating the university’s messaging and relationship-building strategies across a broad range of audiences, from the campus community to legislators, parents, alumni, donors and friends across the world.

“Vince has a love and understanding of the university that will be helpful in sharing the UW’s story … as well as increasing the national and international visibility of this great university.”

—Paula Bonner, WAA president and CEO

As senior associate athletic director, he has been responsible for managing the brand of Wisconsin athletics through oversight of all of the athletic department’s communications and external relations functions.

Martin says that Sweeney’s wide range of experiences and his reputation for integrity will serve him and the institution well. At various times in his life, Sweeney has been a UW–Madison student, alumnus, member of the media, city and state resident, parent of a current student and long-term employee of the institution.

“Now, more than ever, we need to enhance and coordinate our efforts in communications with community, corporate and state relations, ensuring that our research, teaching and outreach are understood and that they serve the citizens of the region, the state and beyond. Vince has a great track record in areas that will be crucial to our efforts,” says Martin.

From 1994–2002, Sweeney was UW–Madison’s associate athletic director for external relations, and from 1991–94 he was the athletic department’s director of marketing and promotions. From 1990–91, he served as the university’s first director of trademark licensing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from UW–Madison.

Among his accomplishments, he created the athletic department’s marketing arm and the Badger Fund fundraising initiative. He serves on the board of directors of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau and is currently on the board of Downtown Madison Inc. He is a past board member for the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators. He is a published author of two books about the history of UW–Madison athletics.

“I understand that so many great things take place at a world-class institution like UW–Madison, and that this community and this state benefit greatly from the hard work and dedication of those who work and study here,” he says. “Like so many on campus and like so many others around the world, I am passionate about this university, and I’m proud to be a Badger.”

“Vince is exceptionally well-prepared to take on this significant responsibility… He was trained as a journalist at UW–Madison and has achieved major success both as a practicing journalist and as a top administrator in one of the most visible units on campus.”

—Jim Hoyt, emeritus journalism professor and longtime mentor to Sweeney

Among his new duties, the vice chancellor for university relations will manage strategic university communications; relationships with government, community and social sectors; and corporate relations and economic development initiatives, along with constituent relations, including parents, visitors, alumni and friends of the university community.

Athletic director Barry Alvarez says that Sweeney is an ideal choice because he has already interfaced with many of the same constituencies. He will be greatly missed in the athletic department, Alvarez adds.

“Vince has been a loyal and trusted part of the Badger athletics family for nearly 20 years. His leadership and creativity have been an integral part of the growth of not only our department, but the entire campus. The university community, as a whole, is going to benefit greatly from the appointment of Vince to this new position. Everyone in our department wishes him nothing but the best.”

Sweeney will begin in his new role on Aug. 1.

Other finalists included Michael J. Brophy, vice president for corporate communications at Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines and Mark S. Rosati, associate chancellor for public affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois Medical Center.