Serving 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 programs to champion the university’s mission. She serves as lead counsel to the chancellor and UCSF’s executive team on issues related to communications, media relations, government affairs and community relations. She also is counsel to the UCSF Board of Overseers.
French oversees the departments of Public Affairs and Digital Communications, which are responsible for communicating news and information about UCSF, UCSF Health and the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. In addition, she oversees Brand Communications, which stewards the UCSF identity and brand. Also, Community and Governmental Relations, which fosters relationships with neighbors, community groups and government officials, reports to French.
Since joining UCSF, French has worked to increase awareness of, and engagement with, UCSF by aligning the campus behind a common brand identity, executing strategic media relations, advancing a focused digital communications campaign and cultivating a robust community and government relations effort. Due to the efforts of the University Relations digital team, @UCSF in 2015 was named one of the top influencers in digital health. The department’s Community & Government Relations team has been instrumental in supporting the thoughtful development of UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, including the newly opened UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, as well as the renovation of the Parnassus campus. Additionally, the entire University Relation team has been pivotal in cultivating awareness of UCSF’s commitment to precision medicine.
French has served Chancellor-appointed committees, including: Data Security Task Force, Mission Bay Coordinating Committee, Strategic Planning Design Team, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability. She also is a member of the Chancellor’s Executive Committee.
French brings a wealth of related work 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.