Sean Findlen ’99 named chief communications officer at Bates

Bates President Clayton Spencer announced today that Sean T. Findlen, a senior vice president with the global communications firm Weber Shandwick, will become the college’s chief communications officer, effective Sept. 1. Findlen is a graduate of Bates and a Maine native.

Sean Findlen will become Bates College's chief communications officer Sept. 1.

Sean Findlen will become Bates College’s chief communications officer Sept. 1.

“Sean Findlen brings enormous strengths to this very important role,” Spencer said. “He is a seasoned communications professional with experience advising political leaders, executives of large companies, and a range of higher education clients. With more than a decade of increasing responsibility at a leading public relations firm, Sean is a highly regarded strategist, a seasoned manager, and a hands-on professional who is fully conversant with the tools of contemporary communications. Throughout the search, colleagues were impressed with Sean’s contagious energy and warmth and his stated excitement, as an alumnus, about the prospect of serving Bates in this way. I am thrilled to welcome Sean as a member of the senior leadership team.”

“Bates is an extraordinary institution with a powerful story to tell,” Findlen said. “My academic experience at Bates was transformative, preparing me for my career and this new challenge. To be able to return to Bates at this pivotal time in the college’s history is a once-in-a-career opportunity. President Spencer has a clear and ambitious vision for the college, and she has assembled an impressive leadership team to make that a reality. With a strong campus culture and a faculty that is highly engaged, Bates is well-positioned to emerge as a leader in framing the power of the liberal arts for our era. I am thrilled to play a role in shaping this effort.”

Findlen will lead the college’s overarching communications strategy and activities. As a member of President Spencer’s senior staff, he will direct the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic communications plan, working with faculty, staff, and students to capture the richness of the Bates experience, managing media relations, and assisting advancement, admissions, and other departments in targeted outreach efforts.

At Weber Shandwick, Findlen leads the firm’s largest practice group in New England and oversees a staff of 25 that serves a range of clients, including several leading colleges and universities. Findlen’s consulting for higher education clients ranges from crisis and issues management to brand-building efforts in key markets around the world.

My academic experience at Bates was transformative, preparing me for my career and this new challenge. To be able to return to Bates at this pivotal time in the college’s history is a once-in-a-career opportunity.

A native of Maine’s Aroostook County, Findlen graduated from Fort Fairfield High School. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in French from Bates in 1999 and received the Albion Morse Stevens Award for excellence in foreign language study. In his first year at Bates, he was one of 20 Maine students selected to receive inaugural scholarship awards from the Sen. George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program, now part of the Mitchell Institute. As an alumnus, he has been an active volunteer for the college’s Alumni in Admission program.

After graduation, Findlen served for three years on the staff of then-Maine Gov. Angus S. King Jr. before becoming manager of community relations for the Sisters of Charity Health System (now St. Mary’s Health System) in Lewiston. In 2009, he earned a juris doctor degree, cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

Findlen’s appointment follows a national search overseen by a committee composed of faculty and staff, with assistance from a search firm that specializes in communications, and campus visits by all finalists.

Findlen enjoys cycling and describes himself as an “absolute political junkie,” noting that he volunteered for his first political campaign at age 10 and later served as a page for U.S. Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell. He has been a frequent guest lecturer in undergraduate courses and programs at Bates, Boston College, and Boston University.

Findlen succeeds Meg Kimmel, who retired June 30 after four years as associate vice president for communications.

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