Associate Vice President of University Communications Sherry Knight impressed University President George Ross during her time as interim.
Knight was appointed to the full-time position by University President George Ross after serving as interim since May, following the public resignation of former VP of University Communications Renee Walker, who had been at CMU since 2008. Knight assumed full duties Monday, and will earn a salary of $140,000.
Ross said Knight’s tactics for handling the incident involving former CMU Professor of Teacher Education William Merrill being charged with counts related to child pornography proved she was well-fit for the permanent position.
“(That incident) demonstrated to me her strength and her communicative role,” Ross said. “Sherry played a key role, but there were a number of people who played key roles, starting with those technicians from IT.”
Until recently, Knight ran an executive communications firm, Knight Writers of Saline, which she is now closing.
“I had pretty much wrapped it up anyway because, bottom line, even though it was interim position, it was still full-time. So I have a gentleman who took over most of my clients,” Knight said. “I communicated with them last May that being in my interim role, my availability would be very limited to them and they were all understanding and supportive.”
Accepting the full-time position has a toll on Knight’s home life as well. Knight’s husband, Jim, has worked at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as the manager of Human Resources of Communications since March, so the couple has had to learn to balance home and work life.
“I have an apartment here, and with the interim role I was here three or four days a week, and now I will be here primarily five days a week,” Knight said. “So, it is just one of those things where you have two working people: you do it, you manage it.”
In 2008, Knight was in a similar position when she served in an interim role in Philadelphia and had to be there one week every month. She considers that commute tougher, because plane travel was involved.
“In this case, I’m two hours away, so it’s really worked out well,” Knight said. “Jim and (my daughter) have helped; all of us have just come together and we are making it work.”
One of Knight’s main focuses has been building culture on campus to make CMU a brand name that can be marketed nationwide.
“We’re building the team, filling some open positions, and then it truly is a combination of both internal and external communications,” Knight said.
Knight has been working with Steven Johnson, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services, and his team on the recruitment of students who will gain the most success from attending CMU.
“Sherry has demonstrated her ability for building strong relationships for CMU, both internally and externally, with integrity,” Ross said in a news release announcing Knight’s appointment last week.