Executive Director of University Communications Heather Smith announces resignation

Heather Smith. Courtesy Photo | Central Michigan University

University Communications Executive Director Heather Smith will step down from her role at Central Michigan University next month. 

Smith often appeared in Central Michigan Life and other news outlets speaking on behalf of the university. She frequently acted as a direct line between media professionals and university personnel.

Smith first announced her departure via her personal Facebook on Jan. 16. 

"Those who know me know I bleed maroon and gold. I pretty much grew up on the campus of Central Michigan University, received both my degrees there and have been an employee (a couple different times) for about 15 years," the post read. "So the decision to leave my current role at CMU was not an easy one, but I'm thrilled to announce that I'm on a new adventure."

Smith will begin work with Paladin Communications after Feb. 4. Paladin is a Mount Pleasant-based management consulting agency cofounded by CMU alumni Jim and Sherry Knight. 

Sherry Knight is also a former Associate Vice President of University Communications 

John Veilleux, vice president of University Communications and chief marketing officer, announced Smith's departure in a Jan. 18 press release.

"Heather has played a significant role in shaping strategic and crisis communications for CMU,” Veilleux said. “Her insightful counsel and wisdom have been a necessary constant during times that are best characterized as chaotic, reactive and challenging. In moments like these, clear communication is essential, and many people across campus, myself included, have benefited from her expertise. She will be missed."

Smith came to CMU as an undergraduate student in the integrative public relations program and was co-founder of PR Central, CMU’s student-run public relations firm. 

After graduating in 2002, she worked for Weber Shandwick Worldwide and Special Olympics Michigan before returning to CMU as assistant director of public relations in 2006.

She earned her master’s degree from CMU in 2011 and spent two years as communications director for the city of Mount Pleasant from 2012-2014. 

Returning to CMU in 2014, she served as senior associate director of public relations, director of communications, and interim associate vice president of University Communications, before assuming her current role as executive director.

Her other contributions to the university include:

  • Overseeing CMU’s COVID-19 preparedness and response communications.
  • Playing a lead role in CMU’s emergency communications during the March 2018 campus shooting.
  • Implementing new policies guiding social media practices.
  • Assisting with the development and launch of the university’s new brand and website.

"I have been a part of the CMU community for most of my life," Smith in a statement to CM Life. "As an alum (third-generation CMU Chippewa) and an employee for many years, this university has shaped who I am in so many ways. I have had so many incredible opportunities to grow as a professional and leader, but also opportunities to make a difference in many lives along the way. 

"CMU is forever in my heart and I look forward to continuing my support as an alum and avid sports fan."