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Meet the New Higher Education CMO and Marketing Leaders Council

By July 24, 2019

Meet the New Higher Education CMO and Marketing Leaders Council
Today’s marketers are living in a perpetual state of change. The amount of data brands have access to has exploded, channels have proliferated, media is evolving, market segmentation continues to granularize, and budgets are expanding. The most significant change however, has been customer expectations: 80% of customers across industries now say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. With more choices, more access to information, and more offers at their fingertips, it takes more tact and precision than ever to attract, acquire, and retain today’s savvy customers. The result is a much more complex — and more exciting — marketing landscape. For more details, check out the 5th annual State of Marketing report.

These developments are also impacting higher education. In response, the CMO and other exec-level marketing positions are growing in prominence and strategic importance within today’s institutions. No longer just concerned with brand strategy, the next generation of CMOs are broadening their focus to the business of higher education across the student lifecycle, driving innovation and leading digital transformation efforts that impact the experiences of prospective and current students, alumni and donors. The drive towards innovation is creating a new culture for more strategic marketing. This new culture really informs expectations across campuses.

R. Ethan Braden, Vice President of Marketing Purdue University

R. Ethan Braden, Vice President of Marketing, Purdue University

“Part of our marketing transformation at Purdue University is to move from ‘random acts of marketing’ to intentional marketing, focused on achieving specific business objectives and strategic initiatives campus-wide.”

These efforts are aligned with the new learner demographics and expectations. These expectations are driving CMOs and marketing leaders to be more digitally fluent and data-driven than ever before, bringing integrated campaigns to life to drive big decisions across campus.

With that in mind, founded its first Higher Education CMO and Marketing Leaders Council in June 2019. The Council serves as the premiere peer-powered network for senior marketing leaders in higher education. In partnership with, the Council will help shape the future of the marketing practice by empowering thought leadership dialogue, convening leaders across the sector, and sharing best practices.

Karen Ferguson Fuson CMO, Indiana University

Karen Ferguson Fuson
CMO, Indiana University

“The higher education industry not only is facing a lot of challenges but has tremendous opportunity to innovate to address the critical issues of enrollment, brand reputation and lifetime engagement. As a newcomer to higher education, I would benefit from the networking and learnings that a CMO council would provide.”

Today’s council consists of 25 CMOs and marketing leaders from a diverse number of universities.

CMO Council

Samantha Morales

Samantha Morales
Senior Director, Marketing, Alumni Relations & Dev Communications – University of Chicago

“I’m keenly interested in being part of a cohort that can share successes, brainstorm innovations, and identify opportunities for staff development and growth. The challenges and opportunities we face in higher education feel distinctly different than those of any other verticals…”

Our goal is to harness our collective education and marketing expertise to help transform the marketing practice within higher education. As part of this effort, the Council aims to:

  • Help optimize’s Higher Ed marketing strategy and investment
  • Guide Salesforce’s marketing solution strategy for higher ed
  • Amplify Council members’ work via’s marketing channels
  • Provide peer-to-peer executive networking and a forum to share best practices

Kerry Salerno CMO Babson College

Kerry Salerno
Babson College

“Such a Council is important to help drive strategy/innovation in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Connect with like-minded Marketing leaders, and ensure success for our Babson enterprise marketing project.”

We believe this work has never been more important than it is today and we hope you will consider attending community gatherings at industry events, engaging our council members and becoming a member when we re-open member selection in 2020.