Donna Gibbs has been selected as vice president for University Relations and Marketing at Western Washington University, WWU President Sabah Randhawa announced today.
Gibbs, currently vice president for Marketing and Communications at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, was selected following a national search and will start at Western on Aug. 28, 2017. She succeeds Vice President Steve Swan, who is retiring.
“Donna will bring expertise as an accomplished higher education leader. She also has an extensive global marketing perspective from years working with emerging and extremely successful online and media companies,” Randhawa said. “She has the knowledge and experience to build on the solid foundation created at Western under the leadership of Steve Swan in community and local government outreach, marketing and communications.”
Gibbs has been vice president for Marketing and Communications at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) since 2013. In that role, she is a senior leader on the President’s Council responsible for setting policy, overseeing institutional governance and advising the president and divisional colleagues on key communications and management issues. She led the effort to modernize marketing and contribute to the overall digital transformation of the 127-year-old PLU, including the design and development of an award-winning, mobile-enabled website and new digital magazine, as well as driving a strategy to integrate content and strategic social media engagement into the student journey.
At PLU, she manages a team of 24 and oversees a $3.4 million budget. During her tenure at PLU, she improved her marketing team’s partnerships with other university divisions and departments; helped revise recruitment strategies to meet changing student demographics and supported fundraising efforts that strengthened the endowment, which fostered student access and academic excellence.
“I am honored to join one of the top public universities in the West,” Gibbs said. “I look forward to working with the talented team at Western to advance the university’s mission and elevate Western’s distinctive profile regionally, nationally and internationally.”
Prior to PLU, Gibbs served as a global marketing communications leader, with more than 30 years of experience working with some of the world’s best-known brands – including Nike, Mattel, Apple and Microsoft – and with emerging online and mobile technology companies and global integrated marketing and communications agencies.
Gibbs received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and Sciences from Michigan State University. She has served as a volunteer and consultant for Meals on Wheels of San Francisco and Associated Ministries of Tacoma.
With the change in vice president leadership, the WWU University Relations and Community Development Division will be changing its name to University Relations and Marketing. The division will continue to include University Communications and Marketing, Web Communication Technologies, the Small Business Development Center, the Washington Campus Compact, the Front Door to Discovery Program, and also will provide leadership for Western’s community relations program. Government Relations was previously a part of the division but will be reporting to the WWU President’s Office with the change in leadership.