Michael Schoenfeld will step down at the end of July after 14 years as Duke's vice president for public affairs and government relations and chief communications officer.
In August he will join Brunswick Group, a worldwide strategic advisory firm focused on critical issues and critical stakeholders, as a partner in their Washington, D.C., office.
“Many people know Mike Schoenfeld as the public face and voice of Duke in both good times and challenging circumstances,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “But his impact and influence have made a difference in many parts of Duke’s mission, from academics and student life to health care and athletics, to alumni and community relations, and beyond. Mike’s wise counsel to students, faculty, staff, and leadership has contributed to Duke’s success and has set us up well for the future.”
Schoenfeld, a 1984 Duke graduate, was named Duke's principal external affairs strategist and spokesperson in 2008 after a 12-year tenure as vice chancellor for public affairs at Vanderbilt University. Since then, Duke has been recognized as a global innovator in media relations, digital storytelling, issues management, social media, and advocacy, earning numerous awards and advancing Duke’s priorities with regional, national and international audiences. Schoenfeld also co-founded and has led Futurity, a multimedia consortium that reaches more than 10 million users a year with news and insights from 60 leading global universities and research centers.
“Duke has been a transformative presence for me and Elizabeth since we came here as freshmen in 1980,” said Schoenfeld. “I will be forever grateful for the privilege of representing Duke’s accomplishments and ambitions to the rest of the world, and forever humbled to work with so many talented colleagues whose creativity and commitment to excellence are demonstrated every day.”
Schoenfeld helped develop and lead the university’s COVID-19 response, which over the past two-plus years was widely recognized for its clarity and effectiveness, and he played a key role in the creation and launch of Duke Kunshan University in China and Duke's expanding global initiatives. He started Duke in DC, the university’s “embassy” in Washington that has become a model for integrating advocacy, policy engagement and communications for research universities, as well as the Office of State Relations to solidify Duke’s role in North Carolina. Schoenfeld also teaches a media, politics and policy course in the DeWitt Wallace Center at the Sanford School and is a frequent guest lecturer and speaker on communications, lobbying and issues management.
A national leader in public affairs and higher education, Schoenfeld has served on the boards of CASE, NACUBO, COFHE, the Institute for Public Relations and the AAU Public Affairs Committee, and most recently chaired the 2022 Seminar, the annual meeting of chief communications officers from the world’s most influential corporations and nonprofit institutions.
Schoenfeld’s extensive community service has included chairing the boards of the Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Transportation Alliance and the Durham County Public Library. He currently serves as chair of the Triangle Community Foundation and WUNC Public Radio, and as a board member for PBS-NC and PineCone-Piedmont Council for Traditional Music.
A national search will be conducted for Schoenfeld’s successor. In the meantime, Price has appointed Christopher Simmons, longtime associate vice president for government relations, to serve as interim vice president for public affairs and government relations to lead Duke’s external affairs efforts after Schoenfeld’s departure and throughout the transition period.