Relations head leaves University

Linda Thrane accepted a new position at a school in Houston.

Elena Rozwadowski

The head of the University’s central communications office is leaving her job of two years at the end of 2006 for a similar position at another university.

Vice President for University Relations Linda Thrane told the University about her decision late last week, announcing she had accepted a new position as Vice President of Public Affairs at Rice University in Houston.

She said she will be handing off a lot of her duties in the next month and taking some vacation time afterward.

Thrane said she has enjoyed her time at the University and is leaving for mostly personal reasons.

“Rice is a very good school that seems to think they need me and made me a wonderful offer,” she said. She said she also accepted the position because she wanted to be closer to her retired father, who lives about an hour from Houston by plane.

“This will allow me to be much more available to him,” she said.

Kathryn Brown, University vice president and chief of staff, said the decision came as a surprise and that replacing Thrane is a “top priority.”

“We believe replacing her position quickly is important to have the kind of quality relations that we have had over the past several months that (Thrane) has been here,” Brown said.

Because Thrane’s decision was unexpected, Brown said the University staff is just starting to talk about the process of hiring her replacement.

Brown said the staff does not have anyone specific in mind, but will be looking for candidates internally and externally. The goal is to hire Thrane’s replacement within the next 30 to 45 days.

Brown and others said they expect the transition to go smoothly. Steven Rosenstone, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said he worked closely with University Relations in the past and has faith in the talent of the staff.

“There’s a very deep bench of talented people to draw upon, both at University Relations and in the University community,” Rosenstone said. “It isn’t like University Relations is going to crumble, or its ability to get a story out is going to be paralyzed.”

Dan Wolter, University Relations director, said Thrane made a big contribution to several initiatives at the University, including strategic positioning, the “Driven to Discover” ad campaign launched in September and the new stadium.

“There has been a real transformation in the time (Thrane) has spent here,” Wolter said. “We are doing a much better job of telling the University’s story.”

In her new position at Rice, Thrane said, her duties will be very similar to what they are here.

Thrane said she has made a difference in her time here, especially in her involvement with strategic positioning.

“We’ve worked hard and made a lot of progress,” she said. “It’s with mixed emotions that I accepted the Rice job.”

– Elizabeth Cook contributed to this report.