Michael Sandler Named USM Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing

April 4, 2024

Dear Colleagues:

I’m delighted to share that Michael Sandler has been named USM Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications. He begins in the role on June 3.

Mr. Sandler’s 25+ years of experience in media, marketing, and brand development will serve the System well. He’s founding partner and chief executive at EM3 Communications, working with colleges, K12 schools, nonprofits, and private companies on strategic and crisis communications, media strategy, reputation and change management, and message development.

Before leading the firm, he was vice president for communications and marketing at the University of Colorado System, a premier public research system with four campuses, 67,000 students, 37,000 employees, and a $5.4 billion annual budget.

There, Mr. Sandler served as the system’s spokesperson, advised its president and board, and aligned the four campuses on strategies and messaging governing proactive marketing and crisis communications. He worked with the campuses’ chief executives and cross-functional colleagues—in government relations, advancement, academic affairs, budget, research, and DEI—to unify brand themes and maximize narrative impact. This work culminated in a statewide marketing campaign articulating the value of a four-year degree and touting CU’s success in serving an increasingly diverse state and student body.

Mr. Sandler had his longest stint in higher education at George Mason University. As interim vice president and associate vice president for communications and marketing, he managed a budget of $7 million and an office of more than 50 full-time staffers. Over his tenure, he quadrupled media hits in national publications—placements that generated advertising value of more than $4 million a week. He managed regional and national media outreach, created digital and social media campaigns, launched podcasts, provided counsel on issues of reputational risk, and created a movement to develop and elevate Mason’s brand.

Mr. Sandler’s earlier career wasn’t in the academy at all, but in the newsroom. He was an economy editor for the Associated Press, associate editor for The Hill, policy writer for Congressional Quarterly, reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and sportswriter for the Washington Post. He broke stories, interviewed U.S. presidents, exposed corruption, covered some of the most consequential debates in U.S. domestic policy, and explained them on-air for outlets like CNN, NPR, and MSNBC.

As we look to raise the USM’s profile, establish our brand, and tell our compelling story, I can’t think of anyone better suited for the work or more excited to get it started.

I thank Interim Vice Chancellor Nan Mulqueen for expertly guiding the System’s communications and media relations as we conducted this search, and I thank the search committee for its terrific work in bringing Mike to the USM. Senior Vice Chancellor Ellen Herbst chaired the committee and was joined by Regent Geoff Gonella, Regent Hugh Breslin, Vice Chancellor Leonard Raley, Katie Lawson, chief communications officer at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Cassandra Robinson, director of university relations and marketing at Bowie State University.

I know you join me in welcoming Mike to the University System, and I know you’ll keep doing the work and sharing the stories that make his job the best one around.

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Jay A. Perman

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719
Email: mlurie@usmd.edu