Gary Polakovic, a seasoned communications leader, journalist and entrepreneur, will join Colorado State University’s leadership team as director of research communications, effective Aug. 16.
Responsible for overseeing internal and external communications and outreach for CSU’s $400 million research enterprise, Polakovic will provide strategic direction and coordination of communications staff throughout the Office of the Vice President for Research. He will also work cooperatively with communications professionals across campus, aligning the priorities of CSU research leadership with the university’s overall goals as outlined in President Joyce McConnell’s Courageous Strategic Transformation effort. In this newly created position, Polakovic will report to both Vice President for Research Alan Rudolph and Vice President for Marketing and Communications Yolanda Bevill.
“I am honored and delighted to be joining the CSU community and am looking forward to collaborating with units across campus to highlight the extraordinary accomplishments of the research community at CSU,” Polakovic said.
Polakovic comes to Fort Collins from the University of Southern California, where he has served as manager of research communications since 2018. There, he has led teams of communications professionals promoting cutting-edge science at a leading research university, building USC’s sustainability communications, expanding The Conversation media platform, and leading multiple marketing campaigns.
Leveraging his expertise in energy and environment issues, Polakovic created a Los Angeles-based public affairs firm, Make Over Earth, Inc., in 2007. The firm provided support for executives in government, academia, business and nonprofit sectors to advance environmental initiatives using legislative strategy, stakeholder engagement, media relations and public policy advocacy.
Earlier in his career, Polakovic was an accomplished journalist at the Los Angeles Times, writing stories about science, energy, technology, nature and public policy. He was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Metro staff in 2004, and the recipient of the American Institute of Biological Sciences Media Award in 2002. At the L.A. Times, he rose to the rank of assistant editor, leading teams and helping to create a new section that integrated news reporting, long-form storytelling and multimedia.
In leadership roles for nonprofit groups, Polakovic has served as a director on governing boards at the Coalition for Clean Air in California, the California State Parks Foundation and the Society of Environmental Journalists, where he chaired the SEJ’s national conference at UCLA.
Polakovic earned a B.S. degree in communications and environmental science at Cal Poly Pomona, California, and was a recipient of the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University.
He will relocate to Fort Collins by Sept. 1, where he plans to immerse in outdoor activities, particularly fishing and camping, as well as riding his Triumph motorcycle in the Rocky Mountains.