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Heather C. Swain

Heather C. Swain

Vice President for Marketing, Public Relations and Digital Strategy


Heather C. Swain leads Michigan State University's branding, marketing, creative and storytelling, digital and experience strategy, and analytics and insights functions. She has worked in higher education for more than two decades and in senior leadership positions for more than 15 years.

Swain oversaw development of the university’s Spartans Will brand campaign, and under her leadership MSU's marketing communications work has been recognized with numerous awards, including Tellys, Emmys and Addys, as well as top recognition from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Swain received the American Marketing Association Higher Education Marketer of the Year Award in 2016.

Swain chaired the drafting committee that produced Michigan State’s strategic plan – MSU2030 – and continues as a core member of the implementation team.

Prior to joining MSU in 2006 as assistant vice president for university relations, Swain spent six years as the senior communications officer at Ball State University where she led a major rebranding tied to the institution’s strategic planning efforts. Swain also spent five years at Indiana University Bloomington in a variety of communications roles, culminating in the position of associate director for university-wide marketing working with IU campuses across the state.

Swain co-chairs the Association of American Universities marketing interest group and is a board member for Futurity, a multimedia consortium of more than 45 leading research universities from the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia. Previous service includes co-chairing the American Marketing Association Symposium for Higher Education, membership on the CASE Commission on Communications and serving on the AAU Public Affairs Network (PAN) steering committee.

Swain received her bachelor’s degree in English from the College of William & Mary and completed the Educational Management Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She earned expert digital marketer certification from the American Marketing Association/Digital Marketing Institute in 2022.