Syracuse University - Dara J. Royer Named Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer

May 16, 2017

A dynamic national leader in marketing and communications and the architect behind award-winning brand transformations has been selected to launch and oversee Syracuse University’s newly integrated Division of Communications and Marketing. Chancellor Kent Syverud today announced the appointment of Dara J. Royer to the position of senior vice president and chief communications officer. Her appointment, unanimously supported by the University’s Board of Trustees, begins on Sept. 7.

Royer currently serves as chief development and marketing officer at Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization with an annual operating budget of $460 million and 5,000 employees working in 42 countries around the world. Royer, Mercy Corps’ first-ever chief marketing officer, provides counsel to the chief executive officer to advance the organization’s vision and strategic plan; oversees international fundraising and marketing operations; and leads an 80-person, high-performing, analytics-driven marketing and communications team. Under Royer’s leadership, Mercy Corps experienced two record-breaking years of profile elevation and fundraising growth, delivering a 25 percent increase in year-end fundraising and boosting unrestricted giving by $1.5 million over goal.

“The depth and breadth of Dara’s knowledge, experience and skillset is unparalleled,” says Chancellor Syverud. “Her ability to reimagine marketing and communications departments and evolve them into high-performing teams that advance the vision, mission and reputation of an organization will help Syracuse University achieve our global vision and reach. I am confident under her leadership we will see greater alignment among all of Syracuse University’s marketing and communications functions.”

In December 2016, Chancellor Syverud announced his plan to identify a new senior leader responsible for creating an operational structure that consolidates and strengthens all of the University’s communications functions, including branding, web and social media, and internal and external communications.

Director of Athletics John Wildhack—who along with Rochelle Ford, chair of the Department of Public Relations in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, co-chaired the search committee—says Royer stood out instantly among an extraordinarily talented pool of candidates.

“Dara is perfectly suited for this critical position,” says Wildhack. “She possesses a vast array of integrated communications and marketing experiences that will allow her to make immediate impact once she begins in this role. I look forward to working with her—both in my capacity as athletics director and in my role on the executive team—to help the University more effectively tell its story to its many diverse audiences.”

Ford echoes Wildhack’s sentiment, calling this appointment a strategic opportunity for Syracuse University. “As the University continues to implement its Academic Strategic Plan and Campus Framework, it’s mission critical that we have a seasoned, poised and forward-thinking communications leader at the helm. Dara is all of those things and more. Not only will she help enhance Syracuse University’s global positioning, she will also use her leadership experience to strengthen and better integrate our campus’ communications and marketing professionals.”

In her new role, Royer will report directly to Chancellor Syverud and work with the Executive Team and the Chancellor’s Council to shape, define and execute a strategic, holistic and data-driven marketing communications plan.

Royer says although she will miss the important work and her great team at Mercy Corps, she is honored to join the Syracuse University community and is eager to hit the ground running.

“I look forward to working with the leadership team—and with students, faculty and staff—at Syracuse University, which has an extraordinary opportunity to build upon a storied legacy,” says Royer. “The Orange story is constantly evolving with innovative academic programs, cutting-edge research and scholarship, and the impressive performance of students, faculty and alumni—stories that should be told far and wide to enhance the University community and its reputation worldwide.”

Prior to joining Mercy Corps, Royer spent five years serving as vice president for brand marketing at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. There, she developed and implemented integrated, multichannel national marketing strategies that generated greater awareness for the hospital and raised more than $850 million in philanthropic giving. Before that, Royer was senior vice president for corporate and community affairs at Cook Children’s Healthcare System in Fort Worth, Texas, where she built a new integrated model aligning business development, community health outreach, community relations, and marketing and communications departments.

Royer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Indiana University, Bloomington, began her career in television news. The Emmy Award-winning producer worked in Traverse City, Michigan, and later in Las Vegas.

Named one of PR News’ 2017 Top Women in Public Relations, Royer is also the recipient of the CMO Club’s 2016 Officers Award and was named Senior Marketer of the Year at the 2016 Max Awards, hosted by the Portland Chapter of the American Marketing Association.