Samuel Casey

News Editor

Tuesday, Aug. 27, Melissa Anderson joined The College of Wooster as the chief communications and marketing officer (CCMO), which replaces the former position of associate vice president for college relations and marketing held by recent retiree John Hopkins for 17 years, according to the College’s news website. 

Before coming to Wooster, Anderson served as the vice president of marketing and communications at Ripon College, a liberal arts college in Wisconsin with approximately 800 students. Prior to that, she led marketing and communications at University of Wisconsin at Madison’s business school and worked at a lobby group in Washington, D.C.

When asked what made her transition from marketing in the nation’s capital to institutions of higher education, Anderson explained, “When you’re out in D.C. as a young professional, it’s the perfect atmosphere where you get your feet wet learning how to have a voice amongst many — like trying to get stories placed with the media when there are [a lot] of other trade associations, lobby groups and grassroots organizations that are lobbying for that same share of voice … [so] it’s not too far of a leap.”

Instead of directly succeeding the role occupied by Hopkins, Anderson will have a newly defined role while still being a member of the President’s Cabinet.

“Part of what I’m doing, and part of President Bolton’s overarching plan, is to centralize marketing. It had previously been under the admissions office and in this new scheme, it’s being put it in the ‘center’ of campus with admissions, advancement and other things internally we need to be paying attention to,” said Anderson.

Anderson’s own experiences in college are part of the reason she decided to take the new position. 

“I’m a product of a private liberal arts college; I’m a first-generation college student and my experience changed the trajectory of my entire life,” she said. “When I came to visit Wooster, I found a lot of those things that I loved about my own experience as an undergrad here as well.”

Anderson has her undergraduate degree in English and psychology at Ripon and received her master’s in social sciences at the University of Chicago. 

One of the daily tasks Anderson will have is reaching out to different administrators and staff on campus to learn about what stories will resonate from Wooster alumni to prospective students and then getting the team to come together on a shared vision.

“Part of the reason I’m here is to tell [Wooster’s] story in the most compelling ways and reaching the prospective and current students, alumni, faculty, staff in ways that are meaningful and resonate with them that [so] they want to be brand ambassadors right alongside us,” Anderson said. “One of the big things I’m bringing is a background in analytics [to help] understand when we post of social media, what voice we [will] use and how it [will] travel. What are we asking people to do? How successful were we in trying to find what sticks, what’s working and what’s not?”

The “Wooster story” is an important message for Anderson to comprehend because it has a constant impact on students past and present.

“As students, you have so many choices on where you want to go to school and it’s really important for people like me to understand the reasons Wooster pulled at your heart strings and made you want to come here. Then, at a deeper level, focusing on that lived experience … and what are the things we’re doing that are great and what are the things we maybe want to do less of,” Anderson stated.

Other areas of Anderson’s department include overseeing the website, including news stories, responding to media outlets, design, social media and athletic communication. “They’re all coming under one umbrella this year,” she said.

Anderson understands that there will be a transition as she gets used to the new position. “This entire year is going to be a learning process for me, I need to learn all the quirks of the MacLeod Tartan, what the ‘tick-tock’ of the place is. As I’m doing that, I’ve been reaching out to key departments on campus, popping in to Lowry once in a while at night to chat with students to take the temperature,” she said. “As I’m learning, I’m working together with a team in marketing to put some processes in place. There’s a lot of work happening behind the scenes and it’s a great time to be here as we are working on our strategic plan moving forward and shaping that messaging.”

Anderson acknowledged, “At the end of the day I’m here, just as everyone else, to make sure students have the best experience possible and that starts with making sure marketing from the gates is really hitting at the intersection of what’s true and meaningful.”