The former School of Journalism dean at the University of Montana was named the new vice president of integrated communications on Monday, ending a months-long search to fill the newly created and highly public position.
Peggy Kuhr accepted the post, assuming a job she has held on an interim basis since it was created by UM President Royce Engstrom in August.
She’ll earn a salary of $147,000 a year and answer to the university president.
“I’ll be putting focus on the word integrated,” Kuhr said Monday. “We have people in offices across campus working on communications in some way. We’ve already started bringing those folks together as a group.”
The new Office of Integrated Communications was created before the current academic year to improve the university’s internal and external dialogue. The duties were formerly wrapped into the position of executive vice president, held by Jim Foley.
Kuhr initially stepped into the job on an interim basis and was chairing the search committee’s quest for candidates. She resigned her committee seat last month before announcing her own candidacy for the position.
“My mission had been to lead a committee that would deliver to Engstrom a handful of candidates who would best fit the scope of this newly configured position,” Kuhr said. “It wasn’t until late in the process that I realized my qualifications would mirror the type of candidate the committee was charged with identifying.”
The university also announced the hiring of Mario Schulzke to serve as assistant vice president for marketing. The position operates within the new Office of Integrated Communications.
Schulzke had been a finalist for the job awarded to Kuhr. He began the marketing job last week.
“Schulzke impressed the search committee with his vision and energy to address UM’s immediate and long-term marketing and digital media needs,” Engstrom said.
Engstrom created the new assistant vice president of marketing by restructuring two vacant positions at University Relations. In the past, Foley had worked on marketing UM as well as managing its external communications.
The success of that arrangement often was the target of criticism and public frustration. Having an assistant vice president of marketing will serve as a benefit to the university, Kuhr said.
“Like all other universities, UM is in a really competitive market,” Kuhr said. “We’re competing for students and faculty and staff and administration. We need to know we’re doing the best work possible in getting the word out about UM.”
With Kuhr now running the communications post and Schulzke managing the marketing side, the search for a new journalism dean has begun.
Denise Dowling has held the position on an interim basis since August, when Kuhr stepped over to serve as the vice president for integrated communications.
“The search for a new dean will start very soon and we will be working with the provost to identify members of the search committee,” Dowling said. “I’ll continue to serve as interim dean until the position can be filled permanently.”
Both Kuhr and Schulzke are UM alumni.
Engstrom has worked the past six months to place UM on a new path after a difficult 2011-12 academic year, which saw the school fall under widespread criticism for the way it handled a series of rape allegations, followed by ongoing investigations by the NCAA and the federal departments of Justice and Education.
Most members of the prior administration have either left the university or are scheduled to do so on June 30, including former athletic director Jim O’Day, who currently has no assigned duties at UM but remains on the payroll.
David Aronofsky stepped down as chief legal counsel on Sept. 1. He was transferred to International Programs at UM, Kuhr said.
Foley, whom Kuhr and Schulzke replaced at the new Office of Integrated Communications, has been on approved personal leave and is expected to work on assignments for the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education until June 30.
Robin Pflugrad, the former head football coach, saw his contract end on Dec. 31. He is no longer affiliated with the university, Kuhr said.
Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, firstname.lastname@example.org or @martinkidston.