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Marisa Quinn to assume role at Watson Institute

Position change follows six-year tenure as vice president for public affairs and University relations

Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn will join the Watson Institute of International Studies as director of communications and outreach effective Jan. 1, wrote President Christina Paxson in an email Wednesday to faculty and staff.

“I’ve worked with Watson in a variety of ways since I arrived at Brown, and it’s always been an area of interest to me,” Quinn said, noting that she has previously partnered with the Watson Institute when reaching out to elected officials in Rhode Island. “I see tremendous opportunities for all of the things that are happening at Watson.”

In her new position, Quinn said she will aim to connect faculty members and students at the Watson Institute with policymakers in the state. She also hopes to help advance Paxson’s strategic plan, “Building on Distinction,” in which the Watson Institute plays an “integral” role, she added.

Quinn will join the Watson Institute at a time of transition, as its administrators and faculty members work out the details of its merger with the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions, which is set to occur within the year, The Herald reported last month.

The integration of the Taubman Center has created “particular excitement” at the Watson Institute, Quinn said, adding that she plans to partner with administrators and faculty members at the Taubman Center and other centers within the Watson Institute.

Quinn said a colleague at the Watson Institute originally showed her a description of the position to share with potential candidates. “But when I read it, it struck me that it may be a great position for me,” she said. “I became really excited by the potential and decided to apply.”

Quinn came to the University in 1999 as director of federal relations and soon became the director of community and government relations. She was named assistant to former President Ruth Simmons in 2003 and vice president for public affairs and university relations in 2008.

Over her six-year tenure in her current role, she oversaw the University’s expansion into the Jewelry District and the School of Engineering’s plans to construct new buildings, Paxson wrote. She also spearheaded several technological efforts, such as the revamping of the University’s home page and social media presence, as well as the launch of the e-newsletter “News From Brown,” Paxson added.

In the greater Providence community, Quinn worked with the Providence School Department on a scholarship program and helped hold events aimed at welcoming residents of the city and state to campus, Paxson wrote.

Quinn also aided in planning the University’s 250th anniversary celebrations as a member of the 250th anniversary steering committee.

A search for Quinn’s successor will “begin immediately” and ideally conclude in early 2015, Paxson wrote in an email to The Herald, adding that a job description will be developed this week, though the University has not yet decided whether to rely on an outside search firm or conduct the search itself.

Administrators at the Watson Institute were not immediately available for comment.

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