After being appointed in June as interim executive director for the joint University of Missouri System and MU communications office, Suzette Heiman is returning to her faculty role in the Missouri School of Journalism.

Jeri Doty, the chief planning officer for MU Health Care, will take over the interim post, according to a release Thursday from the MU News Bureau. Doty will continue her role at MU Health Care.

The Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing was formed in June after the marketing and communications functions of the UM System and MU merged as part of the fiscal 2018 budget plan, according to a June 6 news release on the School of Journalism website. A search for a permanent director for strategic communications and marketing will begin immediately, according to the Thursday release.

Heiman, a professor in strategic communication, was the School of Journalism’s director of planning and communications. That position has since been filled by Joanie Straub, according to information from the School of Journalism.

Along with the June merger, 11 of the 14 employees at the former Mizzou Creative office were given two weeks’ pay and dismissed immediately, according to previous Missourian reporting. The Mizzou Creative team was in charge of promotional materials for MU.

Thursday’s news release said the latest move is “a realignment of positions” as the system continues its marketing efforts.

“The University must continue to develop a very strategic approach to planning and communications, marketing, branding and media relations,” UM System President Mun Choi said in the release.

The announcement comes less than three months after MU finalized a $1.3 million, three-year contract with branding agency 160over90. Among the immediate goals of the branding effort is to increase applications for next fall and raise the profile of MU, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright told the UM System Board of Curators last week.

The UM System also recently renewed its contract with public relations giant Edelman PR, which is working with MU to help craft its message and avoid embarrassing and potentially damaging public missteps.

Also announced Thursday was Lisa Thurber’s appointment as Doty’s deputy director, which will start later this month. Thurber is the senior manager for sourcing communication and social awareness at Walmart.

In addition, three others will directly assist Doty: Christian Basi, director for MU News Bureau, Colleen Devlin, director of marketing and communications for Mizzou Advantage, and Kelly Weimann, assistant director of strategic communications for the UM System.

According to the release:

Basi will manage media relations, social media and content creation areas and continue to serve as the chief spokesman for UM and MU.

Devlin will coordinate strategic marketing activities, including alumni and enrollment management projects and oversee the day-to-day work with consultants, such as 160over90, on marketing and branding. She will continue to assist with communications needs for the MU chancellor and MU provost offices and work closely with internal offices such as enrollment, alumni and advancement on their marketing and communication requirements.

Weimann will manage executive communications for the UM president and provide communications support for the offices of the president, general officers and UM System Board of Curators.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey:, 882-2632.

  • Assistant Director of Community Outreach for the Columbia Missourian. Grad student in convergence journalism at MU.

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