Poole Rec Let
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Poole Rec Let
May 27, 2002
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am delighted to write on behalf of Bruce Smith. Bruce and I were colleagues at Millikin University. I
was the senior student affairs officer and Bruce was executive director of marketing and communications. We
served together on the President's Cabinet, worked together on a number of projects and assignments, and
contributed to moving the University forward.
Shortly after Bruce arrived at Millikin in March 2000, several incidents and events occurred that
presented significant media challenges. One of our students was the victim of multiple incidents of racial epithets
directed at her by being written on the door of her room in the residence hall. In addition to the impact on the
student, the campus community, and the greater Decatur community, the incidents were appropriately reported
to the FBI as hate crimes, which raised the level of media awareness and requests for information and updates.
Around the same time, there were several incidents of students being assaulted as they walked across
campus. In each instance, the perpetrator made homophobic remarks. These incidents also caught the attention
of the local media.
The third challenging event occurred less than three months after Bruce started at Millikin. A student died
in a fire in a fraternity house. This was the first death of an enrolled student at the University in 20 years and
policies and procedures for media relations, communication with the community, response to inquiries from
parents and others were not in place.
In each of these incidents, Bruce responded with poise and calmness. He demonstrated knowledge and
understanding of the media’s needs (deadlines, information) while adhering to the privacy rights of students and
the need for confidentiality. The need to maintain confidentiality was especially high while the fire and police
department personnel conducted their investigations prior to announcing their findings. As a result of Bruce's
leadership in managing these events, the University's relationship with the members of the print and broadcast
media was strengthened and grew in a positive direction.
Fortunately, not all of Bruce's work was directed at managing tragedies. During his tenure at Millikin,
Bruce and his staff organized and offered several press conferences and pitched numerous stories to announce
good news such as large gifts to the ongoing capital campaign; student academic accomplishments and other
achievements; hires; and appointments to the Board of Trustees to name a few. These events were all presented
with class, attention to details, and were well received and successful in raising the stature of the University.
Under Bruce's leadership and direction, the University received notable statewide and national
recognition. For example, in the U.S. News & World Report publication America's Best Colleges we were
prominently featured for our learning enhancement center, which supports students with disabilities by providing
effective academic accommodations. Bruce worked hard to position the University as an institution that is
cognizant of and responsive to the needs of print and broadcast journalists as they accomplish their work. The
University now has in place a resource of story ideas (e.g. Millikin strengths) for media and a list of expert
resources for media use.
Bruce led the efforts in revising and creating new University publications to meet the goal of updating the
"look" of the institution's recruitment and admission pieces, including those aimed at specific target groups. To
accomplish this goal, Bruce spent time talking to members of the campus community to solicit input, ideas,
suggestions, and information for the publications. Bruce also began the process of planning and implementing a
new University web page to match the look and feel of the publications. Through Bruce's encouragement,
faculty members began experimenting with creating their own web pages. Bruce also worked with members of
my staff in Student Development to develop policies and procedures for student organizations and individual
students to create web pages through the University site.
Bruce is a team player. Collaboration is his standard method of operating. He was always accessible and
willing to meet with colleagues to support them in their writing, publicity, and public relations efforts. His goal
was to ensure that the University was always presented in the most favorable manner with a common look and
message. Bruce has a high energy level, is conscientious about his work, holds high expectations for his staff,
and is an effective supporter of the senior administrative staff members. He was an excellent and effective
representative of the University in public forums and meetings. His low-key and composed demeanor makes it
easy for Bruce to create trust among the various campus constituencies; people believe him and are confident in
the accuracy of his statements and answers to questions.
I believe strongly that Bruce would make many significant, positive contributions. I strongly encourage
you to give him your highest consideration as a candidate for this position.
Sherilyn W. Poole
Student Affairs Director