These days, an email notification from Denise Russell deserves an immediate read.
As Capital University’s Director of Communications, Russell has performed the invaluable role of informing students, faculty and staff of new developments pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic. When any campus department needs a notice sent out, they forward it along to Russell, who helps out with editing.
When it comes to COVID communications, Russell states that her top priority is conveying factual information in a concise and clear way. Dealing with such sensitive topics that pertain directly to the physical and mental well-being of the campus community requires discretion, according to Russell. “Nobody wants to incite unnecessary fear, but we also don’t want to promote complacency,” she remarks, noting that, after almost a year in pandemic conditions, it may be easy to become lax when following health guidelines.
Russell also ensures that every single coronavirus email that she sends out includes contact information for the offices involved. Despite this measure, she still gets her fair share of email replies.
“Occasionally, people will reach out to me, just because it’s super easy to hit reply on an email—and I don’t mind at all,” Russell said. She notes that if she knows the answer to an emailed question, she’ll reply directly; otherwise, she’ll forward the message to the appropriate office.
While sending out campus-wide communications is the part of Russell’s job that is the most visible, it’s actually only one small part of her role at Capital.
Russell has worked for Capital University for almost thirty-two years, and she herself is an alumnus (and former Chimes editor!). She officially took over as Director of Communications in August 2020, a position that reports directly to Interim President Dave Kaufman.
Russell works very closely with President Kaufman, planning events and creating new communication strategies; she helps write his speeches and coordinates with the videotaping team in the TV Studio in the Convergent Media Center— sometimes even reminding him to wear a purple tie.
In addition to helping the president, Russell’s days are filled with compiling the bi-weekly newsletter Capital You!, writing feature stories for the online resource Capital Stories, working with the marketing team to share communications through social media, sending text alerts for campus closures and managing the University’s media requests.
When asked about the best part of her job, Russell did not hesitate. “I love telling the Capital story—that is my favorite part. And I think that’s part of what I liked about being the Chimes editor,” she said.
She notes that, while the term #CapFam may seem trite, it truly represents the caring community here at Capital.