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Engel Named Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications and Chief of Staff

Christen Engel Christen Engel

USC Aiken welcomes Higher Ed Executive to Newly Created Role

Aiken, SC (01/20/2023) — Following a national search, Christen Engel has been named vice chancellor for communications and marketing and chief of staff at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

A seasoned higher education executive with experience leading and developing strategic marketing and communications strategies to increase student enrollment and campus and community engagement, Engel will assume her duties on Feb. 1.

In her new role, Engel will lead and directly supervise the areas of university marketing and communication and special events and will be responsible for a diverse portfolio of executive initiatives in support of the Office of the Chancellor.

"I am extremely pleased to welcome Christen Engel to USC Aiken as our first vice chancellor for communications and marketing and chief of staff," said USC Aiken Chancellor Dr. Daniel Heimmermann. "Christen will serve as the university's chief communication officer and marketing and brand champion, working to build campus and community awareness, and increase enrollment and community engagement through a cohesive brand strategy and storytelling platform representative of our top-tier educational offerings and university experience."

Engel's previous experience includes roles as vice president of marketing and communications for Augusta University and Augusta University Health, where she led and developed strategic communications in support of Georgia's first university consolidation and three successful institutional rebranding efforts resulting in increased name recognition, enrollment, and engagement.

As chief communications and marketing officer at Augusta, Engel led a team who captured 90% of the media market, making Augusta the most featured university in the media among its competitors. Further, Engel provided leadership for the university's first student recruitment and institutional advertising campaigns, resulting in increased applicants, as well as improved engagement and retention of current students.

A member of the president's cabinet, Engel served as chief communications counsel to two university presidents and three hospital CEOs, providing executive-level support for executive messaging, stakeholder engagement, statewide tours, fundraising and capital campaigns, and institutional crises, including serving as chief spokesperson for the university and its affiliated health system and Level-I Trauma Center.

"I am passionate about creating a unique university experience for current and prospective students while paying homage to our rich history and vibrant community," Engel said. "In today's digital world, marketing serves as the front door of our university, and I look forward to working with Chancellor Heimmermann and university leadership to ensure our institutional voice is representative of who we are and the communities we serve."

Prior to joining USC Aiken, Engel also served as senior vice president of public relations at Poston Communications, a national public relations and crisis communications agency providing strategic communications counsel to non-profit and professional services clients. At Poston, Engel led public relations and business development activities for Fortune 500 clients and national non-profit organizations, including support for organizational and executive crises, mergers and acquisitions, and other change management events.

An alumnus of USC Aiken and a resident of Aiken, Engel is passionate about improved access to higher education, particularly in South Carolina, and strategic public-private partnerships to further student opportunities, workforce and economic development, and community relations.

Engel was named the Nonprofit Communicator of the Year by PR News in 2022 and a Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch by the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2019. Also, in 2022, Augusta University's brand campaign, "An Experience Like No Other," developed under Engel's leadership, was named one of the world's best university marketing campaigns.

She is a member of the executive committee of the Public Relations Society of America's Counselors to Higher Education and former chair of the University of Georgia's Public Relations Advisory Council. She is also a 2015 graduate of Leadership Augusta.

Engel received her bachelor's degree in business administration from USC Aiken, and her master's in higher education administration from Georgia Southern University. 

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