As marketing and brand messaging grows ever more important in a fully digital marketplace, St. Ambrose University will remain at the forefront of higher education marketing outreach by welcoming its first Vice President for Communications and Marketing in early July.
Toby Arquette, PhD, formerly Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Business at Aurora (Illinois) University since 2016, will assume the new position on the cabinet of President Amy Novak, EdD, on July 5.
Novak identified the need for integrating communications and marketing work into the highest level of University leadership after assuming the SAU presidency just under a year ago.
"This work is so integral to every aspect of University business, and impacts every corner of our campus and academic communities," Dr. Novak said in announcing Arquette's selection following a national search. "Our Communications and Marketing Office has worked extremely hard to meet the needs of our three colleges and 60-plus graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as our many essential student and alumni service departments, including the Office of the President.
"What is needed as we assess the future is a leader who can align those many needs with a strategic vision and focus, while also stepping back and thinking globally about the work ahead and creating a campus-wide understanding of brand and marketing strategy.
"For those reasons, I am excited to welcome Toby Arquette to our leadership team," Dr. Novak added. "The depth of his knowledge and the unique breadth of his experience in higher education marketing will be a significant boost to our efforts to implement an innovative strategic plan. Our focus will always be on serving students in the ways that will accommodate the varied ways they learn and best help them shape their future. To do that, we must also be responsive to business and industry needs as we prepare to educate people across their lifetimes. This work, too, requires clear communication and messaging."
Toby Arquette, PhD
Dr. Arquette is the first VP of Communications and Marketing at SAU.
Having previously served as an Assistant Professor of Communication at DePaul University and a visiting lecturer at Loyola University, both in Chicago, Arquette said returning to Catholic higher education is an appealing aspect of the SAU opportunity.
As intriguing is the opportunity to serve in a leadership role for a president focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. "An entrepreneurial and agile approach to higher education is going to be important to support the University and its students as we transition to a post-pandemic world," he said. "St. Ambrose's laser focus on students and their aspirations is very appealing to me; it is the very reason I entered higher education. I am especially attracted to the opportunity to advance the University's social justice mission particularly as it relates to cultivating an inclusive community. As a first generational college student, I know first-hand the transformative power of a college education."
Arquette earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1996, a Master of Arts in Communications from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in 1998, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Communication from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 2002.
He was first hired as an Assistant Professor of Communication at Aurora University in 2007 and was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor a year later. He was honored with the Trumbo Award for Teaching Excellence at Aurora in 2016 and continued to teach after being promoted to Dean of the Dunham School of Business and Public Policy that year.
Among many other responsibilities in the role of dean, Arquette managed the school's marketing and communications efforts, leveraging digital opportunities to exceed revenue and enrollment targets each year.
Leveraging similar opportunities will be a critical aspect of his leadership as St. Ambrose builds rebranding and messaging into its next strategic plan, Arquette said. "We need to meet our students where they are. If our prospective students are on digital and social media, understanding how to communicate in that space is critical to reaching our audience," he said.
Arquette believes his experience as an educator will make him a more effective administrator in the communications and marketing realm.
"I think of communications and marketing first as storytelling," he said. "Having worked in academic affairs for most of my career, I have a deep understanding and appreciation of how to promote and achieve student success. Student success at St. Ambrose is the story I want to help the University and the President tell in the coming years."
In his role, Arquette will direct the Communications and Marketing Office staff, manage media outreach, and serve as chief spokesman for the University.
"We are excited," Dr. Novak said. "Toby will being a fresh perspective to our marketing and storytelling, and this elevated position will strengthen campus-wide support for our new rebranding initative."