White House, SpaceX Veteran Phil Larson Joining CU Boulder

Published: Jan. 25, 2017

Phil LarsonThe University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Bobby Braun is announcing the appointment of Phil Larson as assistant dean for communications, strategy, and planning, where he will lead strategic relations for the college.

Larson – who was senior advisor for space and innovation at the White House, where he served from 2009 to 2014 – will join CU Boulder in February. Most recently, Larson was part of Elon Musk's SpaceX team, supporting communications efforts as well as managing corporate projects.

Larson's appointment concludes a national search carried out by a College of Engineering and Applied Science search committee.

"I could not be more excited for Phil to join the Boulder team,” said Braun. “He has the passion, experience and know-how to help move the college forward as a leader in engineering education.”

During his time at the White House, Larson worked closely with Dr. John P. Holdren, President Obama’s science and technology advisor, on the nation’s science, technology and innovation priorities. Larson coordinated strategic communications across multiple federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Departments of Commerce, Defense, Education, and Energy. He also spent time in the White House Office of Management and Budget helping to craft NASA's budget and policy priorities.

"Phil brought energy, intellect, and insight to the White House's space, science, and technology portfolio," Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to former President Obama for Science and Technology, said. "I'm confident he'll have real and lasting impact at CU Boulder."

At SpaceX, Larson was part of the company’s strategic communications efforts and led the overall digital strategy. He led major communications rollouts, including a university student STEM competition, and a first-of-its-kind Mars partnership with NASA. He also collaborated with the FAA, NASA, Department of Defense, U.S. industry and foreign entities on SpaceX launch campaigns.

At CU Boulder, Larson will lead overall strategy and planning for the college. He’ll also oversee engineering communications efforts internal to the College, across campus, and with external stakeholders.

"I'm excited to join Dr. Braun and share the lessons I learned at the White House and SpaceX with the incredible team of faculty, staff, and students at CU Boulder," Larson said. "CU Engineering is a national treasure, and I'm looking forward to helping articulate the story of its impact on our country’s economy, security, and quality of life.”

Larson is a member of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Commercial Space Operations advisory board, as well as the Science and Entertainment Exchange at the National Academy of Sciences. He received a bachelor of science degree in aerospace studies, with minors in space studies, psychology, human factors and communications, from Embry-Riddle. He completed graduate coursework in science and technology policy from The George Washington University before taking a job in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2009.