Diane Adams, executive director of Marketing, Creative Services and Administration for University Communications, is retiring in June 2013 after 25 years with CU-Boulder.
Prior to CU-Boulder, Diane held a variety of positions in the newspaper industry in northwest Missouri, in the Alumni Relations Office at Northwest Missouri State University and later in student communications at the University of Wyoming. Her experience working with college alumni and news media, and her industry expertise with typography, print buying, graphic design and news photography led her to join the CU-Boulder publications staff in 1988.
Diane was a project manager and print buyer in the Office of Publications and Marketing for 10 years. In 1997, the University of Colorado Staff Council presented her with the Service Excellence Award for her work with clients throughout the entire CU System.
Due to her attention to detail and skill with customer service and client relationships, she was promoted in 1998 to associate director of project management. In 2003, she was appointed interim director of Publications and Creative Services. After a five-month search process, she was officially hired as director. Today, she is executive director of Marketing, Creative Services and Administration for University Communications.
As Diane prepares to leave CU-Boulder to start a new chapter in her life, she reflected on a satisfying and exciting career.
Talk about some highlights of your career.
Being able to keep an auxiliary office financially solvent during years of growth and change is what I would consider a big accomplishment. I helped grow this office from a service center to a mature university communications office.
My longstanding creative relationship with Mike Campbell—he as designer and me as project manager—was a good combination. Together, we brought many clients to the department who were previously using outside vendors. We fostered the involvement of our office with professional organizations such as the Council of Academic Support and Excellence and the University and College Designers Association and were able to showcase the office’s work on a national stage.
One of my favorite projects was a print piece Mike and I worked on with Alphonse Keasley, assistant vice chancellor, Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement. It was a collection of essays written by first generation students in the pre-collegiate program. Titled Belonging, the print piece was intended to illustrate the diverse backgrounds of students joining a new learning environment and their journey to “belong” at CU-Boulder. We did two issues before funding ran out. We presented it at a CASE conference. It was a new paradigm in higher ed communications to talk about diversity topics so openly and hadn’t really been done before. That was one of the neatest projects I ever worked on.
Did you have a particular management style?
Empowering people is first and foremost, allowing them to make mistakes and giving them tools to get back up, dust themselves off and try again. I’m also a good listener. To really know people you have to listen. When there was a conflict, I tried to let people know something about the person they were in conflict with that they didn’t know. I also wanted to cultivate an environment that was collaborative so that people would feel comfortable getting together and discussing things.
You laughed a lot in the office. Where did you get your sense of humor?
My father was a dyed-in-the-wool Midwest farmer with the gift of gab. He was very gregarious and friendly and never met a stranger. He was my role model. By listening and using humor, you can find common ground with anybody.
What did you enjoy about working at CU-Boulder?
I loved seeing the excitement of the new students each year. The research at the university also fascinated me. I liked being in an environment where groundbreaking research, discoveries and collaboration were happening that would transfer to the private sector and industry. For example, what is happening at the Biofrontiers Institute at CU-Boulder could change the world. Although I’m not physically working in the laboratory, I was able to help tell the story about what took place there, so I felt like I had an impact.
What will you miss most?
The staff and the incredible talent that has assembled here. During the time while the office grew and matured, I was at the helm. I was a matriarch who kept us forging ahead, even during stormy times. My legacy is that I have prepared an entire professional communications staff for this institution that is comparable to any major university in the United States. They are and will continue to be highly successful.
How do you want to be remembered?
By my laughter and my sincerity. As the person who kept the pulse of this place going.
Any advice for the person who follows you?
Client relationship building is key, but don’t neglect the relationships you have with your own team. You have to gain their trust and confidence. If you’re going to be a leader, you must be the type of person other people want to follow.
Landscape my backyard. That will make the neighbors happy. I’m going to travel as much as I can. I have family all over the country to visit. I’d like to get into the sustainable living and organic farming movements. I’m really excited about what’s ahead. Change brings growth. I don’t fear change. On the other side of fear is excitement and that’s what I live by.
If you would like to extend retirement wishes to Diane, you may email her Diane.Adams@Colorado.EDU.