Jaime Hunt, Miami University’s vice president of campus communications and chief marketing and communications officer, has accepted a new position this semester at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
At Old Dominion, Hunt will serve as vice president of strategic communications and chief marketing officer. Jessica Rivinius, Miami’s director of news and media relations, will assume Hunt’s position as interim vice president and oversee university communications and marketing (UCM) while Miami initiates a formal search for applicants.
Hunt’s first day in Miami was Sept. 1, 2020. It started, she said, with an 8:30 a.m. meeting on the status of COVID-19 at the university. This semester, the students on campus didn’t move in until September 21, but problems were already beginning to crop up.
“We had a lot of positive tests from students the day before and I was just thrown straight to, ‘Okay, COVID is here. We’ve got a lot of work to do to communicate about it,'” Hunt said. “It was a very intense way of starting a new job.”
As they worked with departments across campus to ensure students received clear messages about how the pandemic would impact their college experience, UCM has also been impacted. Most of Hunt’s employees were working from home when the pandemic began, and she didn’t meet several people on her team in person for months.
Many days Hunt was the only person in the UCM office at Nellie Craig Hall. It almost felt like an apocalypse, she said.
“There were all these empty desks,” Hunt said, “and everyone figured they’d come back in a couple of weeks, so it was just all these empty desks and coffee cups. It was very spooky.”
Rivinius began her role at UCM four months after Hunt arrived in Miami. Though they both started at the height of the pandemic, Rivinius said Hunt has worked hard to make employees feel like a team.
Every Wednesday morning, according to Rivinius, the employees get together for a 15-minute “Idea Cafe”.
“We just stand in the kitchen and one of us does the announcement,” said Rivinius. “Sometimes it’s totally work-related, like, ‘What’s the best story on campus we should tell right now?’ Sometimes they’re more casual, like “What’s your favorite podcast?” We use this to get into conversation and get to know our colleagues.”
In addition to leading the university’s communications efforts during the pandemic, Hunt has led several other initiatives. These include a placement strategy to position faculty members as experts in local and national media, and the development of a new, cohesive branding platform that the university is launching this semester.
Beyond her own department’s initiatives, Hunt and her team worked with all other departments on campus to help them communicate and market their messages effectively.
Do you like what you read?
Sign up for our newsletter
“There is no area that we don’t have connection or touch with,” Hunt said. “Everything we do, for the most part, needs to be communicated.”
One of Hunt’s most important collaborations was with the Office of Admissions. While there, she worked with Brent Shock, vice president of enrollment administration and student success, to ensure Miami’s recruiting efforts were successful.
Every way the university reaches prospective students, whether through email, printed materials or digital websites, flows through UCM, Shock said. He’s been working with Hunt several times a week since she came to Miami.
“I’ve found her to be exceptionally talented, creative and easy to work with,” Shock said. “We both have a similar mindset on the idea that collaboration matters and leads to better outcomes … and I’ll miss her when she’s gone.”
When Rivinius enters the interim position, she said she will take what she learned under Hunt with her.
“She said to me, ‘It’s never a bad idea to be the calmest person in the room,’ and I think that guides her,” Rivinius said. “That guides me. She guides our approach. There might be issues that upset people, such as: B. How can we tell the truth and context and ease fears? I think clear and transparent communication is a way out.”
Hunt will begin her new role at the beginning of the Old Dominion fall semester. There, she said she expected her Miami colleagues to pay a visit because of the proximity to the beach.