In an email sent to faculty and staff Friday afternoon, Ross said he and Walker came to a mutual understanding that a change was needed to “to prepare for the next academic year with a fresh perspective of its communications opportunities.” She leaves her job on June 8.
“We deeply appreciate Renée’s strategic vision, leadership and dedication in helping to significantly elevate CMU’s reputation, profile and brand nationally,” Ross wrote in the email. “She has established a solid communications platform on which we will continue to build.”
Walker came to CMU in May 2008 as associate vice president for public relations and marketing. Prior to joining the university’s administration, she helped lead a team of international public professionals at Fortune 500 company Kelly Services Inc. and served on former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer’s administration.
Walker and her staff suffered a series of communication gaffes this year, including Central Michigan Life’s investigation into the university’s quiet $10 million allocation toward the Events Center renovation. Just recently, Ross and Vice President of Information Technology Roger Rehm blamed “miscommunication” on the incorrect amounts paid to Ohio-based Blue Chip Consulting Group for the redesigned cmich.edu. The project, of which she was partly responsible for — Walker’s name appears in several of the contracts — was finished eight months behind schedule.
On Wednesday, CM Life published an editorial calling the website fiasco a “blatant act of long-term misrepresentation.”
“I am extremely proud of what our team has accomplished over the past four years despite circumstances that were at times extremely challenging,” Walker said in the statement. “Working together, we have transformed what is now University Communications from a tactical operation to a strategic communications department while introducing operational efficiencies and new technologies and enhancing the functionality and performance of CMU’s Web presence.”
A national search will be conducted to find a replacement.