Chief of Staff and Vice President for Communication
Chief of Staff and Vice President for Communication
Shelly Wright oversees daily operations of the President’s Office at the State University of New York at New Paltz and directs executive and institutional communication and the university’s interaction with its many internal and external constituencies. Ms. Wright serves on the President’s Cabinet, the campus’s senior leadership team, along with the President and six Vice Presidents, to shape college policy for New Paltz, a 7,750-student (6,800 undergraduate, 950 graduate) public comprehensive master’s institution. She serves as the Chief Government Relations Officer, working with village, town, county, state and federal officials to collaborate and advocate for the university’s needs. She is also Secretary to the College Council, the local governance oversight committee that includes nine governor-appointed individuals and the elected Student Association president and she interacts regularly with members of the SUNY-wide Board of Trustees. She guides the President on communication strategy, including writing and editing remarks, public addresses, monthly reports and presentations. She plans and advises on many campus meetings and events, including press conferences, dignitary/VIP visits, commencements, presidential inaugurations, memorials, groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings. She is campus liaison to the following SUNY System Offices: Chancellor, Communication, Government Relations and Legal Counsel. Wright also serves as campus Records Access Officer. She regularly represents the college at various community, government and business functions.
As Vice President for Communication, Wright directs the university’s strategic communication efforts. She supervises the Office of Communication and Marketing, which employs 24 full-time staff members (five direct reports) and encompasses Crisis Communication, Internal Communication/News, Media Relations, Marketing, Advertising, Web, Social Media, Video, Print and Digital Design, Print Shop, Mail Services, and Alumni Communication (New Paltz Magazine and alumni e-newsletter). She is responsible for the President’s Office and Communication and Marketing budgets and co-manages an institutional marketing initiatives budget. In her role, she manages implementation of the university’s brand identity across campus. She helped lead the Brand Marketing Task Force with the Vice President for Enrollment Management and two outside higher education marketing companies to research, create, and launch a new brand identity for the university in 2010.
She created the liaison model between the Office of Communication and Marketing staff and departments across campus to better serve campus clients and further integrate institutional communication efforts. In the last five years, she partnered with the Vice President for Enrollment Management and the Brand Marketing Consultant, who conducted 116 student focus groups to assess their attitudes/perceptions of the university. The research has contributed to institutional actions and process changes to improve recruitment and the student experience. She also has been instrumental in shaping the university’s emergency communication procedures.
Before joining the President’s Office in 2003, Ms. Wright spent seven years as a full-time public relations and journalism faculty member in the Department of Communication and Media at SUNY New Paltz (1996-2003). During that time, she helped start and coordinated the Public Relations Program and briefly worked as interim director in the SUNY New Paltz Office of Public Affairs in 2002. She also taught for many years in the university’s Institute for International Business semester certificate program, a two-month on campus academic program followed by a two-month professional internship in New York City leading to a Certificate in American Business Practices.
Prior to arriving at New Paltz, Wright served as a faculty member teaching public relations and journalism at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, for three years (1993-96) also serving as faculty adviser to the student newspaper and yearbook. Her professional experience includes two years (1987-89) working in public relations for an international nonprofit organization in Geneva, Switzerland, where she wrote and edited print materials for distribution to internal and external audiences in both German and English. She also worked as a staff writer for The (Middletown, N.Y.) Times Herald-Record (1990-94), a 90,000-circulation daily newspaper in the Hudson Valley, where she covered municipal government, education (including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Newburgh School District, the ninth-largest in New York State), business and police beats, and served as a part-time copy editor, editing stories, writing headlines, selecting wire service copy and proofing pages (1995-1999).
A first-generation college student, Wright earned her B.A. in journalism and German at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, in 1987, and spent her junior year as an exchange student in Bonn, Germany. She earned her M.S. in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1990. She has completed doctoral coursework in sociology, communication and higher education administration at the University at Albany. She resides in New Paltz with her husband, Lee, who is a SUNY New Paltz alumnus.