March 11, 2013
Chris Werle has been named associate athletic director for strategic communications at the University of Minnesota after more than 20 years of work with a variety of sports, corporate and public organizations in Minnesota and across the country.
“Gopher Athletics is the front door to the University of Minnesota and it’s where we engage with thousands of student-athletes, fans, alumni, parents, donors and visitors. We are focused on preparing all of our student-athletes for academic and competitive success,” said Gopher Athletics Director Norwood Teague. “Chris understands and shares these ideals, and has the creative ability and broad strategic experience that will be critical to our future success. I’m thrilled to welcome him to my senior leadership team.”
Werle will begin work March 18 and will oversee Gopher Athletics communications and media relations functions. He will also provide strategic advice on brand management, creative services and marketing, and stakeholder and policymaker relationships.
A five-person selection committee, chaired by Deputy Chief of Staff to the President and Chief Communications Officer Diana Harvey, sought a candidate who:
- Is focused on the best interests of student-athletes in competition and in the classroom;
- Understands that Gopher Athletics is a critical part of the University of Minnesota, and that their successes and reputations are inextricably linked;
- Will provide creative and strategic guidance on communications to the wide swath of Gopher Athletics stakeholders, as well as marketing; and
- Will enhance Athletics’ relationships with the U community, policymakers, alumni, parents, donors and fans.
Werle is used to managing strategic communications and marketing for unique subsidiaries of large organizations. Between 2009 and 2012 he was vice president for global communications for Estee Lauder Companies, managing Aveda Brand communications. From 1999-2002, he managed the announcement of the Xbox Video Game Console while a group marketing manager of the games division at Microsoft Corporation.
“I have worked in multiple organizations that have their own personality, but whose actions impact the larger organization in multiple ways,” Werle said. “Gopher Athletics and the University of Minnesota are strong organizations individually, but we cannot separate them because students, alumni, fans and policymakers consider them one. I’m honored to have the opportunity to work closely with my new colleagues across the U to make us all stronger.”
In addition to his time at Estee Lauder and Microsoft, Werle was executive vice president of the consumer marketing practice at Weber Shandwick in Minneapolis from 2002-2009 where he worked for a number of organizations including the National Hockey League. From 1995-1999, he worked in multiple roles at Weber Shandwick’s predecessor company, Shandwick International. Prior to that, he was a public relations manager for NordicTrack, Inc. in Chaska, Minn. Werle also currently serves on the executive committee of the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center. He is a native of Rochester, Minn., and a graduate of St. Cloud State University.