UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Lawrence Lokman, Vice President of Strategic Communications, has announced that he will be leaving Penn State at the end of October after eight years leading the university’s central marketing and public relations department.
With extensive experience in media relations, brand positioning, issue management, agency and cause communications, Lokman has made a name for himself over a 30-year career leading large-scale reputation building, public relations and cause marketing campaigns. Before joining Penn State in 2014, Lokman served as Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Communications at UCLA for eight years.
At Penn State, Lokman leads the Office of Strategic Communications, an award-winning communications unit that includes branding and marketing, issues management and internal communications, proactive and social media, campus and community events, and university licensing. During his eight years at Penn State, Lokman led a number of initiatives to transform the university’s communications function and promote Penn State as a world-class university by strengthening its brand and protecting the university’s reputation.
“Lawrence’s contributions to telling the story of Penn State and fostering a deep sense of the Penn State spirit within our community will endure,” said Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi. “His creativity, thoughtfulness and drive have helped position our university as a leader among America’s premier institutions and bring it greater recognition. I wish him all the best for his next endeavors.”
Lokman has decided to step down as he looks forward to his next endeavor which includes a possible return to the West Coast where he is from and where his family lives.
“For me, personally and professionally, this is the right time for a change. We have built a strong central communications foundation for the university and have excellent team leaders who deserve much credit for our progress in creating awareness and recognition of Penn State as a world-class university and a catalyst for positive societal impact. ‘ Lokman said. “The future looks bright and I look forward to the progress that continues to be made in support of President Bendapudi. This university and this community will always hold a special place in my heart and the friendships I have developed will last a lifetime. This work was a highlight of my career.”
At the end of October, Rachel Pell, Associate Vice President, Strategic Communications, will assume the role of Interim Vice President, Strategic Communications.
Promoting the Penn State brand and reputation
As vice president of strategic communications, Lokman oversees public relations, university marketing, campus and community events, and licensing programs. As a member of the President’s Council, Lokman advises the President and senior leaders at Penn State universities on communications strategies and key endeavors.
During his time at the university, Lokman focused on elevating the reputation of Penn State and the country by establishing the university’s first dedicated proactive media relations team and integrated marketing and public relations storytelling campaigns. These efforts have increased visibility and support for the university’s work to advance economic development and quality of life, and to prepare students for success in communities across the state and beyond.
Since 2020, Strategic Communications’ proactive media team has been involved in 1,800 national media placements with top-tier media, including 577 placements that generated more than 250 million impressions in the first half of 2022 alone. Lokman initiated the establishment of a recently completed broadcast studio located in the media center at Bellisario College of Communication that will allow for improved broadcast placements. Additionally, Strategic Communications hosted the 2019 national ScienceWriters conference, which helped raise the profile of Penn State research among journalists across the country.
Lokman initiated the naming and visual identity of President Emeritus Eric J. Barron’s entrepreneurial initiative as Invent Penn State, as well as associated visibility work that included multiple commentary, branding, and news reports that helped generate awareness, interest, and support promote initiative progressed.
Lokman launched a branding campaign across the Commonwealth, anchored through a series of highly produced digital and television spots rolled out across the university and with constituents and alumni, using a mix of animation and thematic storytelling. Stories include redefining heritage, sustainability means more, protecting pollinators, from waiting room to living room, smart fabrics, predicting infectious diseases and designing sustainable homes on Mars and Earth. These – and many other stories – have resulted in reputation improvements. A recent poll showed that Pennsylvania voters’ perception of Penn State has increased across a variety of critical measures that have helped transform the public’s understanding of the university as a shared public good. In 2020, a national survey by the Association of American Universities found that adults ranked Penn State 14th among America’s top research universities.
Lokman was part of the University’s Leadership Response Team for student and sorority life reforms, and he and his team drove the national media strategy that helped increase recognition of Penn State’s initiatives and support for reforms at the state and national levels achieve, and positioned the university as a recognized resource for understanding the challenges and potential solutions.
Upon arriving at Penn State, Lokman led the development of a formal university crisis management team, including the preparation of formal crisis communications plans and protocols for all Penn State campuses and the ongoing delivery of media training for chancellors and campus communicators.
In addition, Lokman oversaw the development of a new academic logo and graphic identity system for the university, which also anchored the launch of the Penn State Health brand, and aligned the university, academic medical and hospital network under a unified Penn State umbrella . With the launch of Penn State’s brand book, Strategic Communications provided a brand toolkit and workshops for communicators across Penn State to promote consistency across entities.
Lokman initiated an optimization study that identified opportunities for a more effective and efficient set of coordination capabilities and controls across all of Penn State’s communications entities. Following the study, Lokman established a Lead Communicator Council, which serves as a resource for sharing best practices and providing communications professionals across Penn State with opportunities for skill development, professional development and more.
Strategic communications manager
Before coming to Penn State, Lokman led UCLA’s response to dozens of local, state and national issues and crises and spearheaded the launch of branding and digital communications initiatives featured in Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal and Ad Age Google case study selected.
In Los Angeles, Lokman founded and directed his own marketing agency, Window In Communications, which developed advocacy, branding and identity initiatives for a variety of companies Education and cause-driven clients including Stanford University, the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Hilton Humanitarian Prize, among others.
He was also vice president of The Rogers Group, then the largest independent agency on the West Coast, where he co-led the team that secured the agency’s largest account and ran a three-year, $36 million First Five campaign for promotion of early childhood development. He is also a former Vice President for Programs at the Century Council, where he developed national award-winning campaigns to prevent underage drinking, which have also helped improve the image of liquor industry funders.
With a passion for Throughout his career, Lokman has made his expertise available to support a range of social and philanthropic causes. At Penn State, he was a proud supporter of THON, helped advise the organization on its communications efforts, and even defended students involved in philanthropy when faced with negative media comment. In addition, Lokman currently serves as secretary to the board of directors of the Center for Volunteers in Medicine and was executive vice chairman of Aviva Family and Children’s Services, a community health nonprofit in Los Angeles.
He is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, an organization made up of Chief Communications Officers from large corporations and leading government and education companies who wish to enrich their profession. Lokman is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he earned a degree in International Relations.