Smeal names Rick Ayers to lead college's marketing and communications efforts

February 06, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of the Penn State Smeal College of Business, has named Rick Ayers as the college’s first chief marketing officer and assistant dean of strategic communications.

A photo of Rick Ayers, Smeal's new chief marketing officer and assistant dean of strategic communications

Rick Ayers brings nearly 30 years of experience in communications and marketing to his new position in the Penn State Smeal College of Business.

IMAGE: Provided

Ayers, who has nearly 30 years of marketing and communications experience, comes to Smeal from WellSpan Health in York, where he was vice president of public relations and marketing.

“We’re excited to welcome someone with Rick’s depth and breadth of experience to this newly expanded position at this crucial time in Smeal’s history,” Whiteman said.

“We have many critical needs in these areas as we continue unprecedented growth. From developing a strategy to execute our new brand essence to increasing the recognition and reputation of our college, Rick’s expertise will be instrumental in positioning Smeal for future success.”

Ayers, who grew up in nearby Tyrone, said that proximity enabled him to not only develop an affinity for the University, but also witness its emergence as a world-class research institution.

“Penn State holds a special place in my heart,” he said, “and I could not be more excited to join the leadership team at Smeal.”

In more than two decades at WellSpan, Ayers assumed an ascending series of leadership positions. Under his guidance, WellSpan’s marketing and communications team grew in size and intricacy as the organization expanded through partnerships with other hospitals and health systems. WellSpan was able to establish itself as a leading health care brand in the region, even with fierce competition from some of the leading health systems in the northeast.

Ayers said he sensed Smeal is entering a similar period of growth and evolution.

“During my visits, I easily discerned that the college has entered an era of transformation and growth, revisiting its portfolio of degree programs and certificates in the face of tremendous disruption by traditional and nontraditional competitors. This reflects a clear recognition of rapidly changing market dynamics and consumer preferences as well as a spirit of innovation,” he said.

Ayers said that the opportunity for growth and innovation and the long-range goals of the college drew him to the position.

“I am also inspired by the vision to be one of the very best business schools in the world and the firm commitment to establish a best-in-class marketing and communications infrastructure,” he said. “I am looking forward to collaborating with my new colleagues to tell the Penn State Smeal story and to realize the potential of this exciting moment.”

Whiteman said Ayers will start his tenure at Smeal on March 2.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 06, 2020