Chris Simmons has been appointed to be Duke’s vice president for government relations, according to a March 24 release.
Meanwhile Frank Tramble, vice president of communications and chief communications officer at Howard University, was named as Duke’s vice president for communications, marketing and public affairs, according to a Monday release. He will start his tenure on July 1.
Both of these roles were newly created by the University after the departure of Michael Schoenfeld in July 2022, who was responsible for both communications and government relations.
The vice president for government relations is a member of the president’s cabinet responsible for facilitating relationships with government officials at the state, federal and international levels. This role is closely tied to the vice president of Durham and community affairs and the Duke Health office on government relations.
After Schoenfeld’s departure, Simmons served as the university’s interim vice president for public affairs and government relations since August 2022. Prior to that, Simmons has been with Duke since 2006, serving as associate vice president for government relations. In this role, he was the primary contact for federal relations and oversaw the Duke in DC program since 2012.
In Washington, Simmons represented Duke’s position on issues including financial aid, federally funded research, international education, tax policy and immigration.
In addition to his governmental work, Simmons is also the director of the newly formed Nakayama Public Service Scholars program and has been a pre-major advisor for several years.
Simmons also chairs the Public Issues Committee of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education and is a former member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Board of Directors and the AAU Council of Federal Relations Steering Committee. He also served as a board chair of the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham.
Tramble, in his new role, will lead communications, marketing, media relations and brand management programs to advance Duke’s strategic priorities, including crisis communications. This role also provides leadership for communications officers in various schools and units at the University.
Tramble, before being appointed to Duke’s cabinet, worked at Howard starting in September 2020. During this time, he led a variety of communications activities, including a redesign of Howard’s university magazine and creating The Dig, Howard’s first daily storytelling hub.
Under Tramble’s direction, the Howard Office of University Communications won two silver and one bronze Education Digital Marketing awards, 13 CASE Awards including a gold award for redesigning Howard Magazine, four Eddie & Ozzio Awards for writing and magazine design and a PRSA Bronze Anvil award for executive communications.
In addition to his position at Howard, Tramble is an adjunct professor in the integrated marketing communications graduate program at Georgetown. He is also involved with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education as a lead judge for the circle of excellence digital communication awards.
Before joining Howard, Tramble led communications and operations for fundraising events and activities at Georgetown. Prior to this role, he led student engagement, telemarketing and alumni annual giving marketing activities at Michigan State University.
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Anisha Reddy is a Trinity junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.