U of A System Division of Ag taps Sam’s Club PR manager, restructures communications

May 19, 2014
Contact Information:

Dave Edmark, Division of Agriculture Communications
479-575-6940 / dedmark@uark.edu

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mary hightower

Mary Hightower
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mark scott

Mark Scott
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Fast Facts:
• U of A System Division of Ag restructures communications
• Taps Sam’s Club PR manager as chief communications officer

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(Newsrooms: with head shots; ‘NorthWest’ in 6th graf is cq)

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is restructuring its public outreach, hiring a chief communications officer to guide strategy and combining two of its communications units under a single director.

The U of A System Division of Agriculture is a statewide campus that conducts research and delivers education in all 75 Arkansas counties. The Division’s focus is defined by the 1862 Morrill Act, which established land grant colleges, the 1887 Hatch Act, establishing the Agricultural Experiment Stations and the 1914 Smith-Lever Act which established the Cooperative Extension Service.

The Division has tapped Mark Scott, public relations manager for Sam’s Clubs, to serve as its chief communications officer. Mary Hightower was selected as director-communications services to oversee tactical aspects, supervising communications units for the Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

“Our top-flight faculty and staff address such a broad range of public needs, a strong communications team is critical not only to strongly define our identity to the public, but also to reach new audiences who might benefit from our work,” said Mark Cochran, UA vice president-agriculture, and head of the Division of Agriculture. “With Mark Scott’s hiring, we look forward to setting this team to work. Between Mark and Mary’s leadership, we look forward to expanding the role of the communications unit within our Division operations.”

Scott, a University of Arkansas alumnus, brings strategic communications experience on a national level. He joined Walmart Stores Inc. in 2012. Previously, he had served as executive director of public relations for NorthWest Arkansas Community College and director of media relations for Hendrix College. Scott was director of public communications for then-Gov. Huckabee from 2005-2007 and worked as a reporter for the Russellville Courier News and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas.

"Dr. Cochran has a clear vision for enhancing our service throughout the state and shining a bright light on the outstanding work already taking place by the Division. I'm excited to be a part of that vision and look forward to joining the team."

Hightower has been serving as assistant director of communications for the Cooperative Extension Service. Previously, she served as vice president of a Florida public relations firm, overseeing campaigns for clients such as Staples, Office Depot and BJ’s Wholesale Club. She spent nearly a decade with The Associated Press in Little Rock and New York.

Scott and Hightower will be headquartered in Little Rock.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.