The U. of I. News Bureau has a new director.
Steve Witmer, a former Central Illinois journalist and media relations professional, joined the News Bureau June 23.
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Witmer served as a reporter and editor for the Peoria Journal Star newspaper for eight years before managing media relations issues for two Fortune 500 companies in Illinois and Wisconsin for the past 19 years.
He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.
Witmer replaces 23-year director Jeff Unger and associate director Mare Payne, who was with the News Bureau for 30 years. They retired June 27.
Witmer said he is proud to serve the U. of I. and is excited to lead such an established, accomplished and effective university news organization.
"It's more critical than ever that we spotlight the talented people on our campus and their accomplishments," Witmer said.
He said the biggest challenge is in getting the U. of I.'s message through the din of a "rapidly changing news media landscape.
"Working with other units of Public Affairs and with experts throughout the university community," he said, "the News Bureau will continue in that role while also adapting our methods."
Robin Kaler, the associate chancellor for public affairs, said Witmer was hired after a national search. She said she is confident he will effectively steer the News Bureau through new challenges.
"His newspaper knowledge and his experience in the corporate world is the right mix for leading the News Bureau staff - all of whom are devoted to sharing with the world the amazing discoveries that occur on this campus," she said.
The News Bureau produces Inside Illinois, the faculty/staff newspaper of the Urbana campus, which premiered in 1979 as IlliniWeek.