New Vice President for University Advancement

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dr. Michael Ruffner, former vice chancellor of communications and university relations at Louisiana State University, has been appointed Vice President for University Advancement at the University of West Georgia. He began his new position Oct. 1.

Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna, UWG president, welcomed Ruffner as he came to UWG at a critical time in its history.

“We need to draw on Dr. Ruffner’s experience and expertise to enhance our regional and national image,” Sethna said.  “He will work closely with our excellent colleagues, not only within University Advancement but across campus, on this exciting task.”

While at LSU, Ruffner had oversight of advancement, legislative and public affairs since 2005, and most recently assisted the president of LSU System as a special advisor.  Previously, he served as the associate vice president for marketing and communications at Case Western Reserve University responsible for all marketing, branding, communications and public affairs activities.  

Earlier in his career as a senior media executive, he was responsible for developing comprehensive communications, marketing and public affairs programs for some of the leading brands in the country.

As the inaugural head of the Office of Communications and University Relations at LSU, his advancement responsibilities involved coordinating the fundraising activities of three private foundations, and he was instrumental in the planning and launch of Forever LSU, the largest capital campaign in LSU history, which raised a record $122 million during the first year of the campaign.

During Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, he led all public affairs operations to establish communications and liaison between LSU and local, state and federal agencies.  His office was instrumental in helping transition LSU into the largest temporary acute care facility in history.

In addition, his office wrote, produced and disseminated in six weeks the award-winning volume, LSU in the Eye of the Storm, as a model outlining how institutions can and should assist their state leadership during disasters.

As the head of marketing and public affairs at Case Western Reserve University, Ruffner was responsible for raising the visibility and prestige of the university among national and international audiences, supporting all philanthropic activities, providing marketing and
communications support to eight schools, and representing the university before all public forums and the media.

Ruffner was responsible for much of the planning and execution for the 2004 Vice Presidential Debate activities at Case.  By creating a series of events called The Race at Case, they generated millions of dollars of media value for the university and the city of Cleveland.

Prior to his work at Case Western, he worked closely with senior management at CBS and NBC for nearly 20 years on brand management, and was responsible for representing the corporate and public affairs interests of both networks before Congress and numerous regulatory and special interest groups.  He served as the chief advocate for CBS and NBC on healthcare advertising.

In addition, Ruffner pioneered the movement to advertise prescription drugs on network television , and was the founding director of a national policy and research consortium of 57 large corporations that lobbied Congress for healthcare advertising reforms.

Sethna expressed his appreciation to Dr. Andrew Leavitt, associate vice president for University Advancement, and Lisa Ledbetter, assistant vice president for University Communications and Marketing, for leading the Division for the past year.

“We have made substantial progress on a number of dimensions, including the work on the football stadium, during this period and we could not have done it without their help,” Sethna stated.