Harmon Named Executive Director of University Communications and Marketing



CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 26, 2013 – Jeff Harmon, director of marketing and communications at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, has been named executive director of university communications and marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.

The announcement was made following a closed executive session teleconference meeting today of the University’s Board of Regents.

Harmon will begin his new duties Jan. 15, 2014.

Harmon is one of four finalists who visited Southeast over the past two weeks for on-campus interviews and open forums. The other finalists were Dr. Derek Hall, vice president, University Relations and External Affairs at Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Fla.; Thomas Evan White, former vice president for communications at the University of New England, Portland, Maine; and J. Andrew Bartlett, associate director of communications and marketing, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Minn.

Following the retirement of Karen Grebing as Director of Marketing and University Relations, the position was redefined. In his position, Harmon will serve as Southeast’s chief communications and marketing officer and will report directly to Southeast President Kenneth W. Dobbins. Harmon will be responsible for developing the University’s brand, vision, strategy and campaigns to attract students, motivate alumni and donors, and recruit faculty and staff. “We are very pleased to welcome Jeff to Southeast.” said President Dobbins. “He brings with him a wealth of experience in the marketing and communications areas and will certainly be a valuable asset to our institution moving forward.” The Office of Communications and Marketing includes the areas of the News Bureau, Publication and Public Services, Video Services, Web Production, Social Media and Photography. In addition to leading this team of communication and marketing professionals, Harmon will provide strategic direction and support to academic and administrative units. He is expected to lead the University’s strategic and integrated marketing and communications functions, and develop a comprehensive, long-term University-wide communications, marketing and branding strategy consistent with the strategic goals of Southeast. Harmon also will be responsible for using a research-based approach to identify key messages and audiences, and articulate the University’s image and brand consistently to all University constituents. In addition, he will direct the creation of fund-raising, campaign and stewardship materials for the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. “Social media, Web, and mobile technologies will play an important role in successfully reaching our target audiences with our messages,” he said. “We have a great team in place and we plan to be at the forefront in all of these areas.” According to Harmon, “Southeast has a long, successful history and a great reputation in the region. I am really excited about where the institution is headed with regard to branding and recruiting, and also about working with an exceptional leadership team. I grew up in Murphysboro, Ill., and Southeast was always a top choice for our students.” Harmon says he is looking forward to “creating and implementing new strategies to elevate the Southeast brand within and beyond the region as a first choice for prospective students. “Southeast has an incredible campus environment with a wide array of high-quality degree programs,” he said. “And Cape Girardeau is a great city. The whole package is very attractive to students and parents alike.” Harmon has spent the past decade leading successful marketing and communications efforts in public higher education institutions. He has been director of marketing and communications at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith since October 2010 and has led that institution through a successful re-branding process. He previously served as director of communications and marketing for Arizona State University Online and its extended campus, and director of marketing for the University of Illinois Online. He also has taught marketing courses at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith and at the University of Illinois-Springfield.  He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.