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The Flint Michigan Water Crisis & VT Communications

  • 14 Apr 2016
  • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM (EDT)
  • Hilton Garden Inn Blacksburg, 900 Plantation Rd, Blacksburg, VA


  • Luncheon fee for non-members of PRSA
  • This option is for members who have already pre-paid for the entire calendar year.
  • Luncheon enrollment for members of PRSSA.

The Flint Michigan Water Crisis and the New Model of Communications at Virginia Tech

 There’s a crisis in the water and change in the air as Virginia Tech takes charge of communications! With new leadership at Tech, a reorganization which has University Relations inside the new Advancement Division, and the University’s Flint Water Study of Flint, Michigan, Tracy Vosburgh and Mark Owczarski have been getting the job done in more ways than one.

 On April 14, Tracy Vosburgh, Senior Associate Vice President for University Relations and spokesperson for Virginia Tech, will share an overview of Virginia Tech’s new communications model in University Relations and Mark Owczarski will share his recent experience, strategies and challenges handling multiple national news outlets covering the Flint Michigan water crisis where the Flint Water Study with Marc Edwards and his team has been at the forefront of scientific reporting with regards to the drinking water.

Registration deadline, Monday, April 11.

This luncheon is sponsored by the Virginia Tech Department of Communications

For more information and news coverage on the Flint Water Study by Virginia Tech, visit



Senior Associate Vice President for University Relations
Virginia Tech

 TRACY VOSBURGH joined Virginia Tech in September 2015 as the Senior Associate Vice President for University Relations.  In this role, Tracy provides communication leadership for strategic university initiatives and serves as a member of the Senior Leadership Team for the Vice President for Advancement.  She heads up Media Relations, College Communications, Development Communications, Television Productions, Publications, Web Communications, Trademarks and Licensing, and the public radio station serving Central and Southwest Virginia, WVTF.  Tracy also serves as the university spokesperson.

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Tracy was the Associate Vice President in the Office of the Vice President for University Communications at Cornell University, operationally leading the division and overseeing strategic communications.

Prior to joining Cornell, Tracy was the station manager for Penn State Public Broadcasting where she was in charge of broadcasting and production for WPSX-TV (PBS) and WPSU-FM (NPR) and head of Creative and Educational Services. She served as executive producer of the national PBS production Small Ball: A Little League Story, distributed in 2004, and served as production manager for the first Legendary Lighthouses series, distributed nationally by PBS in l998.


Tracy has over 25 years of professional, creative and management experience in public television and documentary filmmaking and higher education.  She was the production manager for WETA in Washington, D.C. for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. She has served as production manager and post-production supervisor for National Geographic Explorer and worked in production management at ABC/Kane Production for the ABC/World of Discovery series.


Mark Owczarski

Assistant Vice President for University Relations
Virginia Tech

Mark Owczarski is currently assistant vice president for university relations at Virginia Tech and provides leadership for the university’s media relations, college and other unit-based communications, crisis communications, and internal communications programs.

During his 13 years at Virginia Tech, he has led university efforts to move communications products to digital platforms. Virginia Tech News ( is the daily news services that provides the university’s latest news and information via the web, email, social and multimedia platforms, and these modes of communication are leveraged as part of its crisis communications plan. Today, more than a million people visit the news website annually.

 Over the past decade, Virginia Tech has strengthened its global reputation as a leading research university, media relations initiatives have support that growth. Widespread national and international media coverage of Virginia Tech’s work in high-speed computing, robotics, drones and autonomous vehicles, and clean drinking water and the Flint water crisis.

 Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Owczarski served as director of communications programs at Syracuse University from 1998 to 2003 and oversaw the university's national media relations program and several specific strategic communications projects. From 1994 to 1998, he was director of college relations at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., and held media relations and publications positions at the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1989 to 1994.

 A native of Cheshire, Conn., Owczarski received his bachelor's degree and master's degree from Syracuse University. Owczarski and his wife, Dawn, have two children.

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