Content warning: Suicide
Renell Wynn started in her role as Wesleyan’s new Vice President for Communications on Oct. 21. Wynn is taking over for Director of Marketing Deb Katz, who held the position in the interim. Before coming to Wesleyan, Wynn was the Senior Administrator Consultant at the Registry, an organization that helps universities fill interim administrative positions.
In her new role, Wynn hopes that she can use her experience in and knowledge about higher education to best represent the University’s values through conversations with the Wesleyan community.
“I think to be successful and for our office to be successful, I need to understand Wes, what makes this place tick,” Wynn said. “Why do people smile when they think about it? What encourages staff to come to work every day?”
Wynn began her career as a print journalist writing features and op-ed pieces. She then transitioned to technical writing with the Gannett corporation outside of Jackson, Tenn. From there, Wynn decided that she wanted to use her love of storytelling in higher education. Wynn has worked in the Public Relations—which she calls “Strategic Communications”—departments at Mississippi Valley State University, Florida State University, The College of William & Mary, George Mason University, and the University of Denver.
Reflecting on her transition to her new role at the University, Wynn referenced recent student protests in solidarity with Hong Kong and in opposition to the joint-venture campus in China, which Wesleyan recently announced it will no longer pursue. Having dealt with sensitive issues in her previous roles, Wynn noted that it was encouraging to see students openly engaging with difficult topics and making their voices heard.
“I started one academic year with an institution where there was a student suicide,” Wynn said. “I have been involved in a number of managing a number of issues from divestment to suicide, so I’ve experienced a lot. But I think what really encourages me is when students have a voice…. I think it is refreshing and rewarding that there is that kind of activity and activism on the university campus.”
President Michael Roth ’78 expressed enthusiasm about Wynn joining the administration.
“I’m delighted to have Renell as a member of Wesleyan’s senior leadership as we pursue the goals of our framework for planning, Beyond 2020—particularly the second goal of enhancing recognition of Wesleyan as an extraordinary institution,” Roth wrote in the Wesleyan newsletter.
As Wynn begins her second week on campus, she is working with her team to figure out what are exactly the most pressing issues to address in her first 90 days and which of those will be important to look forward to in the Beyond 2020 plan.
“I’m excited about how we elevate and evolve a brand for future audiences of who are we, what do we sound like, why do people want to connect with us,” Wynn said. “Being able to engage in those conversations, I think, will be exciting.”
Hallie Sternberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.