Virgil Renzulli, associate vice president for Public Affairs, who helped make Columbia the most publicized University in the country according to findings by the Burrelle's News Service, announced last week he will be leaving in June to assume the position of vice president for Public Affairs at Arizona State University in Tempe, Az.
During his tenure, Renzulli has been responsible for revitalizing Columbia's media relations efforts, upgrading publications and marketing communications, developing and managing the news portion of the University's Web homepage, overseeing production of the Columbia University Record and establishing a five-person web video unit that produces some of the most popular content on Columbia's Web sites.
Renzulli came to Columbia in 1996 and quickly became an integral part of George Rupp's administration, initiating events like Columbia's annual Media Dinner, which attracts dozens of University presidents and noted journalists to campus each fall for a casual forum on popular issues. His media strategy included generating coverage for the stories that Columbia's individual schools held most important. He was instrumental in helping land a University overview on the front page of the "New York Times" Metro Section in November 1999.
Michael Crow, executive vice provost, who announced recently he was leaving Columbia to become Arizona State University's next president, said, "Virgil is a dynamic leader who, through his collaborative and team oriented style, brings out the best in people and the institution for which he works. The universities Virgil has represented, including New York University and Columbia, have benefited significantly from his media relations successes that have resulted from relationship cultivation and trust building."
At ASU, Renzulli will work to promote the University on a national level, strengthen the ASU brand, engage in constructive interaction with the greater Phoenix community and acquire additional resources for the school.
"I am very excited to be able to join Michael Crow at Arizona State and to assist him in his plans to make ASU an even better research university and an even more integral part of Phoenix and Arizona," said Renzulli.
Renzulli, a Philadelphia native and a University of Pennsylvania graduate, believes the change will prove to be both challenging and enlightening.
"In the last few months I've learned a lot about ASU, and the more I've learned the more impressed I've become with ASU as a high quality research university and as a vital part of the infrastructure of the Valley and the State."
President George Rupp, who stepped down this month after nine years at Columbia's helm, said, "Virgil Renzulli has served Columbia in exemplary fashion. He is deeply knowledgeable about media relations and has been instrumental in developing a pro-active communications strategy for the University. I personally have valued his insightful guidance and I wish him all the best."
Alan Stone, former vice president for Public Affairs at Columbia who is now vice president for Government, Community and Public Affairs at Harvard, noted that Renzulli was a perfect fit when he arrived on the Morningside campus six years ago.
"Virgil brought great experience at urban research universities, wonderful relationships with the working press, a strong management style, and a vision for how a proactive communications operations should be built and maintained. He exceeded our high expectations in every way," said Stone.
Renzulli leaves New York with fond memories of his time in Morningside Heights. "I have had a great six years at Columbia. I will always be grateful for the support I received from George and Alan and will always treasure the many friendships that I made here," Renzulli said.
Before coming to Columbia, Renzulli was assistant vice president for Public Affairs at NYU and director of University and Medical Center Public Information at Penn. He has also worked as an assistant city editor on the Burlington County Times (Burlington, N.J) and an editor/reporter for Ingersoll Newspapers in Philadelphia. He has taken graduate courses in business, film and creative writing at Wharton, NYU and Temple. Renzulli is the author of two novels.