Karen Clarke Selected as Kent State’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Affairs
Following a national search, Kent State University has selected Karen B. Clarke as its senior vice president for strategic communications and external affairs. Clarke comes to Kent State from Temple University in Philadelphia, where she has served as vice president for strategic marketing and communications. Last year, the American Marketing Association named Clarke its “National Higher Education Visionary Leader in Marketing.” She joins Kent State on Jan. 3, 2017.
Clarke will report directly to Kent State President Beverly Warren and will serve on the President’s Cabinet as a member of the university’s senior leadership team. Clarke will lead a division of approximately 85 staff and has responsibility for systemwide communications and marketing, corporate and professional development, and Kent State’s award-winning public radio station, WKSU. She also will collaborate closely with members of the External Relations and Development Committee of the Kent State University Board of Trustees. Clarke’s leadership will be instrumental in achieving the vision and priorities of the university’s six-year plan, A Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State.
“Karen has an impressive track record of helping large public universities increase their impact, raise their profile and stand out with distinction,” Warren said. “I’ve come to know and respect Karen as a strategic thinker and inspiring leader who can help us execute our Strategic Roadmap and take Kent State to bold, new heights.”
Clarke has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist, marketing strategist and communications leader, including senior roles at Temple University, the University of Houston and the University of South Florida. Clarke is known for bringing a rigorous, research-based approach to communications and marketing campaigns to drive measurable results.
“As a first-generation college student, I have a deeply-rooted passion for helping students transform their lives through higher education,” Clarke said. “Kent State has impressed me on so many levels. I’m eager to help this university receive well-deserved national recognition for its top-notch academic achievements and research programs.”
At Temple, Clarke launched the university’s first comprehensive brand strategy, which increased alumni membership and engagement, yielded three consecutive years of record-breaking philanthropic giving and supported an advocacy campaign resulting in an unparalleled increase in state funding. She introduced a proactive media relations strategy that increased positive front-page newspaper stories, magazine placements and national news about the university’s top priorities. She led a team that developed an innovative enrollment strategy for millennials using new media that resulted in 485 new enrollees from a single campaign.
During Clarke’s tenure at Temple, the university has risen to the top tier of public research universities ranked by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, surged 11 spots over four years in U.S. News & World Report rankings, achieved record-breaking philanthropic and alumni support, and developed a reputation for accountability, transparency and laser focus on strategic goals and tangible progress.
“I am proud to support President Warren’s ambitious leadership agenda to put students first at one of the country’s largest and most dynamic university systems,” Clarke said.
A native of Florida, Clarke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and Spanish at the University of Florida and will soon complete a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Houston. She is a member of the American Marketing Association, the Public Relations Society of America’s Counselors to Higher Education, and Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists. She also serves as a mentor to student members of the Public Relations Society of America.