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 and advocacy programs to champion the university’s mission and advance its priorities. She serves as lead counsel to the chancellor and UCSF’s executive team on issues related to communications, media relations, brand stewardship, 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. University Relations also collaborates with the Office of the Chancellor on the University’s executive communications.
In recent years, the work of the University Relations team has been recognized with a bronze International CASE award (2016), a gold National CASE award (2014) and a bronze National CASE award (2015). Since 2012, the team has also won six gold Regional VII CASE awards. In addition, @UCSF was named one of the top influencers in digital health in 2015.
Since joining UCSF, French has successfully increased awareness of, and engagement with, UCSF by aligning the campus behind a common brand identity, executing strategic media relations, developing and advancing a focused digital communications strategy and cultivating a robust community and government relations effort. Between 2012 and 2017, UCSF experienced a 40 percent increase in overall awareness among Bay Area residents, according to a 2017 brand perception survey.
During French’s tenure, department’s Community & Government Relations team has been instrumental in supporting the thoughtful development of UCSF’s Mission Bay campus as well as the renovation of the Parnassus campus and the development of a new research building at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center.
French has been asked to serve on many Chancellor-appointed committees, including: Parnassus Master Plan Steering Committee, Data Security Task Force, Mission Bay Coordinating Committee, Strategic Planning Design Team, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability. She also serves on the Chancellor’s Executive Committee and the Chancellor’s Cabinet.
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.