Search Begins for New Assistant Vice President of Communications

Spring has brought some changes for the Whitman Office of Communications. By the start of next school year, the office will have a new assistant vice president of communications and a new web content specialist.

Previous Web Content Specialist Phil Thompson recently left Whitman so that he could focus on his own web consulting business. His position is being filled by Carlos Virgen, who currently works as the online manager and web producer for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.

As online manager, Virgen is responsible for posting content on the U-B website and for updating and administering U-B social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. He will oversee content on the Whitman website when he makes the transition to the Office of Communications.

Additionally, Virgen will be leading the Office of Communications staff in continuing the transition to Ingeniux, their new web content management system (CMS). Ingeniux was first installed nine months ago, and the office staff is still working to become entirely comfortable with it.

Though he anticipates some challenges, Virgen is excited to begin working with the system.

“The new CMS is not in a language that I’m too familiar with, but that’s what I enjoy learning and geeking out about. It’ll be another skill for me to take away, which is something I’m looking forward to,” he said.

Current Assistant Vice President of Communications Ruth Wardwell also believes that Virgen will make a great addition to the communications team.

“Carlos brings a wide new media skill set, which will serve the college and its audiences very well. He has also overseen two CMS transitions, so he’s going to be terrific.”

Virgen will start work in the Office of Communications on Monday, April 1.

The Office of Communications staff will also be joined by a new assistant vice president of communications.

The search for this new member of staff will begin in the next two or three weeks. President George Bridges and an advisory group of administrators lead by Trustee Nancy Serrurier will choose a final list of candidates. Then they will work with nationally recognized search firm Isaacson and Miller to conduct interviews and to make the final decision.

The top candidates will also make public presentations and the selection committee will consider feedback from staff, faculty and students when choosing a new director.

Vice President for Development and College Relations John Bogley hopes to find someone who can continue to expand upon the office’s foundation by maintaining strong relationships with outside news sources and by building Whitman’s presence online and in social media.

“With the emergence of social media and the increased pace of the news cycle, new opportunities to achieve the goals outlined above are taking on increased importance. Building on our strong base, we seek to take full advantage of the additional channels and methods of sharing the news about the excellence of Whitman College,” he said in an email.

The new assistant vice president of communications will begin working at the start of August.

Wardwell, the current assistant VP of communications, plans to move back to her home in Orange County, Calif. and begin working at a public relations firm based in San Diego.

This move is not a sudden decision for Wardwell. She began working with the Office of Communications eight years ago, excited about the opportunity to live in a small town. However, she never intended to stay in Walla Walla forever.

“I went home over the holidays and it just clicked that—no pun intended—now is the time,” she said.

Wardwell is confident that the office will continue to grow during its transition.

“I think the transition will be terrific because we have strong creative people in place. They have an eye for the creative and they have many opportunities to help the college through the communications process,” she said.




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