You are here: American University President Announcements March 4, 2019

American University
Washington, DC

Memorandum March 4, 2019

AU Community
Sylvia M. Burwell, President
Dr. Terry Flannery

I am writing to announce that Dr. Terry Flannery, vice president for communication, has informed me of her intention to step down at the end of the academic year, on June 1, after 11 years of service to AU. During her tenure, the university’s reputation has grown stronger, its tools for communication have become more sophisticated and effective, and many programs and university efforts have benefitted from her leadership. I am personally grateful for all that she did to ensure that my transition as president was a smooth one.

When she arrived in 2008 as AU’s first chief communications and marketing officer, Terry established a modern organizational structure and professional team to lead strategic integrated marketing and communications for the university. She led market research to shape AU’s first brand strategy and with her team and the University Marketing Advisory Council, she developed and introduced its first brand campaign. She established prominent partnerships with the Washington Nationals and The Washington Post to extend the university’s brand awareness. In addition, her team redesigned American magazine to integrate the brand and introduced a digital version to improve engagement with alumni.

Terry introduced rigorous measurement to refine our brand strategy and produce demonstrable results, including improved university position relative to competitors and other national universities, increased applications for undergraduates, improved yield rate for admitted first-year undergraduates, higher shares of first-year students for whom AU is first choice, increased alumni engagement, and improved awareness, visibility and perceptions of AU’s reputation among all stakeholder groups.

Under her leadership, the division of University Communications and Marketing received dozens of national and regional industry awards, including the CASE Grand Gold Award for the KNOW/WONK campaign. In 2018, Terry was recognized as higher education’s International Brand Master.

In addition, Terry and her team introduced focused media and public relations strategies to align with strategic plan priorities, influence higher education peers and influencers, and enhance public impact of faculty scholarship. Media placements doubled and more than half featured faculty expertise. Her team has worked with more than 100 AU faculty members to extend the impact of their scholarship and expertise through media training, op-ed writing, and other communication tools.

Also, she elevated the university profile by positioning university leaders, improving crisis communication, and putting in place issues management planning to reduce risk and enhance timely response.

Terry’s team developed the university’s first digital communications strategy. She’s led the campus-wide committee that governs the university’s award-winning website, and led two major redesigns that ensured mobility, security, and accessibility. Her team established and built a robust social media presence. In 2017, her team introduced a weekly digital newsletter, This Week at AU.

Terry’s leadership extended beyond marketing and communications to collaborations with colleagues across campus to realize important achievements, including the effort to Reimagine the Student Experience (RiSE); the development of a distinctive and nationally recognized site, We KNOW Success; creation of targeted strategies to reduce the average student debt at AU by 21 percent over six years, at a time when debt was rising nationally; establishment of AU’s first pilot of digital marketing strategies; and co-leadership of the 2017 University Leadership Retreat.

During her tenure, Terry has served as an international volunteer leader among advancement professionals, extending AU’s reputation beyond the boundaries of campus, including service on the Board of Trustees for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Dr. Flannery plans to take a short sabbatical to complete a book for the Johns Hopkins University Press entitled, The Value of Marketing U. How Leaders Use Strategic Integrated Marketing to Build Awareness, Engagement, Loyalty and Value. In addition, Terry is preparing to seek new higher education leadership opportunities, following completion of a fellowship with the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership in 2018.

I appreciate Terry’s willingness to serve until June 1. The search will begin immediately.

We are grateful for Terry’s professionalism, expertise, leadership, and creativity. Please join me in thanking her for all she has done for American University as she takes on exciting new professional endeavors.