Martel Appointed Chief Communications Officer at the University of Virginia

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan today named David W. Martel as the University’s new chief communications officer. 

Martel, currently director of media communications at the University of Connecticut, brings to the position more than 20 years of experience in strategic communication, media relations, marketing and branding. The appointment is effective Aug. 26.

“Dave brings a wealth of experience in strategic communications and marketing at a time when the University and all of higher education are facing opportunities and challenges that require thoughtful and effective communications,” Sullivan said. “His experience as a results-oriented communicator and administrator in a complex public higher education institution will be a true asset on Grounds. I look forward to having him on our leadership team and welcoming him and his family to U.Va. and the Charlottesville area.”

As chief communications officer, Martel will lead a broad effort to generate widespread understanding, engagement and financial support for the advancement of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a forward-thinking global university, the value of higher education in America, and the impact of university teaching, research and service on the world.

“The University of Virginia is an exceptional institution of higher learning with a rich history of tradition and academic excellence,” Martel said. “I look forward to the opportunity to assist in efforts extending the excellence of Mr. Jefferson’s University and communicating about U.Va.’s ongoing value to the commonwealth and beyond.”

At UConn, Martel led several important institution-wide initiatives in brand management, marketing awareness, national media placement, multimedia and digital design. He led development of the UConn Today website and helped spur the institution’s social media presence while playing an important role in updating UConn’s visual identity across all of the schools, athletics, operating units and affiliated organizations.

Prior to his current role, Martel served in several positions with increasing responsibilities at UConn, including leading the university communications portfolio from fall 2011 to January 2013, interim associate vice president and chief information officer in 2009, and director of marketing communications from 2006 to 2008.  Before joining the communications team at UConn, he was the senior assistant director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research from 1993 to 2001.

Martel earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice from Castleton State College in Vermont and a master’s degree in criminal justice from the State University of New York at Albany.

A cabinet-level position, the chief communications officer reports directly to President Sullivan and supports the University’s mission of education, research, health care and service with a special emphasis on important areas and strategic initiatives identified by the president and the Board of Visitors.  He will also work with communication leadership across the University to align and strengthen the University’s overall and respective unit communication efforts, ensuring consistency and crispness of messaging while enhancing the University’s brand.

As CCO, Martel will oversee the Office of University Communications, which includes a team of 24 professionals within media relations, community relations, strategic communications, Web communications, audio and visual communications, and marketing. 

A search advisory committee formed in January reviewed more than 250 applications for the position.

“On behalf of the search advisory committee and the University of Virginia, I would like to thank all the candidates who have taken part in this process,” said Paul G. Mahoney, dean of the School of Law and chair of the search committee. “The members of the search committee played an integral role in identifying candidates for consideration by President Sullivan, and I express our sincere gratitude for their dedication and efforts.”

Martel will succeed Anthony P. de Bruyn who Sullivan hired last October to oversee University Communications on an interim basis following the retirement of Associate Vice President for Public Affairs Carol Wood. Sullivan charged de Bruyn with facilitating the successful separation of the University’s central communication function from its former location within the Office of Development and Public Affairs, a change Sullivan said will strengthen both central communication and advancement communication at the University. Sullivan has asked de Bruyn to remain on staff in the near term to help ensure a smooth transition as Martel begins his tenure as CCO.

About the University of Virginia

The University of Virginia is distinctive among institutions of higher education. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University sustains the ideal of developing, through education, leaders who are well-prepared to help shape the future of the nation. A recognized leader in teaching, research, health care and service, the University of Virginia is made up of 11 schools in Charlottesville, plus the College at Wise in Southwest Virginia. U.Va. offers 51 bachelor’s degrees in 47 fields, 81 master’s degrees in 65 fields, six educational specialist degrees, two first-professional degrees (law and medicine), and 57 doctoral degrees in 55 fields. The University of Virginia Health System is a nationally renowned academic medical center committed to providing outstanding patient care, educating tomorrow’s health care leaders, and discovering new and better ways to treat diseases.

Media Contact

McGregor McCance

Office of University Communications