I write to share the news that Nate Nickerson, vice president for communications, has accepted an appointment as the communications and public affairs partner for the Palo Alto–based venture capital firm DCVC and will be stepping down from his role at Yale on September 23, 2022.
Nate has made an indelible imprint on our university. Through a series of strategic internal and external communication initiatives, he has helped us to celebrate our common experiences, work together to address pressing challenges, and share with the world the accomplishments of Yale’s faculty, students, staff, and alumni. A committed leader, he has created a talented team in the Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC) capable of building on his and their collective work.
Nate arrived at Yale with a clear vision on how best to use communications to support the pursuit of Yale’s mission. He restructured OPAC to foster a greater focus on Yale’s teaching and research, engage deeply and systematically with the media on the work of all schools and departments, and nurture a collaborative approach to the university’s digital strategy. As a result of his efforts, Yale has enjoyed more favorable interest from the wider world.
Yale Today, the daily email launched by Nate and his team in January 2020, has since been opened 30 million times by members of the Yale community and beyond. There has also been a significant increase in the quality and amount of Yale’s presence in national news coverage. These gains in “owned” and “earned” media have in turn led our university to have an expanded social media presence.
In moments of local, national, and international importance, Nate has been a sure and steady advocate for human-centered, direct, and principled communications, and he has supported and convened public affairs professionals across the university. For example, in response to the pandemic, Nate led the “Healthy Yale” campaign, which through digital and physical communications has helped guide the community toward adherence to the changing health protocols surrounding COVID-19. That data-driven, cross-unit, and sustained work has set a new model for Yale-wide communications. Likewise, the Yale Visitor Center, which is part of OPAC, has provided tremendous support to the Admissions Office over the past two years, allowing Yale to give tours to prospective undergraduates at a time of great disruption. Creative, solutions-driven communications across Yale have helped the university sustain its operations.
Yale’s Internal Communications team recently moved from Human Resources to OPAC. Powered by the belief that Yale is made stronger by honoring those who work ably and proudly on its behalf, Nate and the team studied how individuals have been responding to the dramatic changes to how we work that have resulted from the pandemic. Over the fall semester, you will see communication efforts from that group that will help us attract, inspire, and retain Yale’s exceptional staff.
Nate arrived at Yale after heading up communications for MIT, and before that, he held positions of editorial leadership at MIT Technology Review and Fast Company. Throughout his career in higher education, Nate has served actively within the Public Affairs group of the Association of American Universities.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with Nate over the past several years. His wisdom, creativity, and intellect have benefited all of us, and I will miss him. I will soon launch a search for his successor. In the meantime, please join me in offering him our congratulations on his new role and in thanking him for his contributions to Yale.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology