ICQ 2003/1



Alumnus Named to New Marketing Position

Tom Torello '87 is leading efforts to improve the College's visibility.

An Ithaca graduate has been hired as the College's first executive director of marketing communications. Tom Torello '87, who had served since 1998 as director of marketing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was chosen following a national search. Torello has a bachelor of science degree from Ithaca, where he majored in television-radio with a concentration in advertising and public relations.

In the newly created position Torello answers to Shelley Semmler, vice president for institutional advancement. "Tom has held a variety of progressively responsible positions in the fields of marketing, public relations, and advertising," she says. "He was enthusiastically received by staff members across campus during his interviews, and he brings to the College a wealth of experience and considerable skill in developing an integrated marketing program."

Torello's experience in developing the strategic marketing team and an effective program at Rensselaer will be put to good use at Ithaca, where his areas of responsibility are marketing, media relations, publications (including the Ithaca College Quarterly), sports information, and Web development.

As the College strives to position itself at a new level of prominence and prestige, marketing will be a key factor. "Marketing is a relatively new concept in higher education," Torello points out. "Eight years ago, when I went to my first marketing symposium, there were maybe 100 people; now it's more like 400. It's amazing how the field has changed. I now have more colleagues with whom to share information, and we have more science, more resources, and more respect." Torello will oversee the College's communications to both external and internal audiences -- including potential and current students; parents; faculty and staff; alumni; neighbors; donors; foundations and corporations; competitors; the national and international media; and government entities -- ensuring that such communications reinforce the College's strategic initiatives.

Torello is aware that he faces some challenges. The toughest one, he says, "is trying to create a succinct, consistent message when we've got such diverse offerings. It's hard to sum up so many programs, people, and concepts around a single idea, but we need to develop a core message that unifies the College. So much has changed in the 15 years since I was at school here; a lot of alumni don't realize just how different Ithaca is today. Getting the message out about the great programs and new approaches to education that are here is very important, but complicated. It's like conducting, in which each area of campus, each school or department, is like a different section of the orchestra. Each may be performing brilliantly, but if they're all not playing the same piece of music the end result is just noise. My job is to make sure they're all using the same score -- that we're all singing from the same songbook, if you will."

Torello looks forward to the challenges and to building his staff and programs. He has the background for it: he joined Rensselaer in 1995 and was promoted to director of marketing in 1998. He led the development of RPI's "Why Not Change the World?" campaign, which the author of a book on higher education communications has called "one of the best branding campaigns in the past decade."

Torello had previously worked at several advertising agencies as a media planner and account executive. An active volunteer, he has been a member of the marketing advisory board of the United Way of Northeastern New York and the marketing committee of the Animal Protective Foundation of Schenectady, has helped raise funds for public television station WMHT, and has been involved with Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership for many years. Torello and his wife, Kati Flynn Torello '87, are excited about moving back to the Ithaca area. "It's something we've always wanted to do, and now we have the chance."

Photo by Thomas Hoebbel

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A. Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications, 25 April, 2003