Having served the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) since 2005, Barbara J. French was appointed vice chancellor, Strategic Communications & University Relations, in May 2010.
As head of Strategic Communications & University Relations, French is charged with developing and implementing communications and public affairs programs to champion the University’s mission and to raise awareness and visibility of UCSF’s excellence in discovery, patient care and education. She serves as lead counsel to the chancellor and UCSF’s executive team on issues related to communications, governmental affairs and community relations. She also advises the Marketing Committee and the Government Relations Committee of the UCSF Foundation board of directors.
French oversees the departments of:
- News & Media Relations, which is charged with directing all of UCSF’s interactions with the news media and proactively working with traditional and new media to communicate news and information about the University;
- Brand Communications, which works to grow brand awareness with key external audiences through integrated enterprise communications;
- Digital Communications, which leads UCSF digital presence and manages its main web and social media channels; and
- Community & Governmental Relations, which leads UCSF’s efforts to build constructive relationships and partnerships with its many neighbors, as well as with the city’s community organizations and civic groups, and which also is charged with leading efforts to build strong relationships and dialogue with local, state and national elected officeholders, as well as with appointed policy leaders.
Since joining UCSF, French has worked to increase the visibility of UCSF. She spearheaded the campaign that developed UCSF’s tagline – advancing health worldwide™ – and manages strategic communications for the development of UCSF’s new children’s, women’s and cancer hospital complex at Mission Bay. In addition, she launched a University-community planning process to ensure that UCSF’s growth in neighborhoods adjacent to the Mission Bay campus is compatible with the community’s vision of the future, and partnered with UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Children’s Hospital to win approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to locate a helipad at the new Mission Bay hospital site. In addition, French has served on several chancellor-appointed committees, including the Data Security Task Force, Katrina Task Force, Mission Bay Coordinating Committee, Strategic Planning Design Team and Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability. She also is a member of the chancellor’s Executive Committee. French brings a wealth of related experience to UCSF, having worked in the field of communications throughout her adult life. Before joining UCSF, she ran her own San Francisco-based communications consulting firm for eight years and previously served in a senior management role at an independent public affairs firm also based in the city. Earlier, French was a newspaper editor and reporter, covering politics and then business. She worked at the San Jose Mercury News, Hartford Courant and San Francisco Examiner. French is on the board of directors of Jewish Vocational Services and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and previously served on the boards of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), Project Open Hand and the LGBT Community Center.