Next time you reach into your pocket or purse and pull out a $20 bill, you get a glimpse of the deep portfolio and diverse experience Yolanda Bevill brings to Colorado State University as the new vice president for university communications. She was part of a U.S. Department of the Treasury team in 2000 and 2001 that helped plan the roll out of a new currency design.
Bevill comes to CSU from Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black land-grant institution in the Houston area, where she served as chief public affairs officer. Like President Joyce McConnell, she accepted the position at CSU without ever setting foot on campus.
“I’ve never been to Colorado,” she said, “but everybody tells me how beautiful it is. So I’m really looking forward to joining the team at Colorado State and seeing it for myself.”
While Bevill’s career spans both the public and private sectors, academia is where she says she truly feels at home. “It’s the students,” she said. “That’s what really drew me to academia. I see them as the people who will move us forward as a nation and as part of a global community. I love being a part of an institution that infuses students with knowledge and gives them the passion for learning and for growing.”
Like President McConnell, Bevill also has a law degree. “I think my legal training has been invaluable to me as a communicator,” she said. “It gives you a logical framework for thinking through a situation. When you’re talking about a communications strategy, about ways to communicate successfully with different groups of people — how you do it with this group or that group — it really helps me work toward an understanding of how we move forward.”
She says she originally planned to be a journalist, earning two scholarships to attend the highly regarded S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
“I wanted to be a hard-hitting investigative reporter,” she said, “writing for The New York Times. And then the internet came. I became fascinated with the idea of what it could be.” As a result, she changed her major and got her degree in electronic media.
Bevill began her career as a television news producer, worked in corporate positions at Key Bank and Lexis-Nexis, then moved into governmental roles at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, the Office of the Mayor in Cleveland, and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston. While working in Harris County, she also earned her J.D. at South Texas Law College.
However, she realized she wanted to stay in communications, just in a different area than she’d previously worked. She landed in academia, at Prairie View, and has been there since. “I really found that communications was my home,” she said. “And academia is where I want to use my skills and experience.”
Joining to CSU
Hired by CSU after a national search, Bevill will be transitioning in the coming weeks for her ultimate move to Colorado when she will assume her role leading the Division of University Communications, which includes CSU’s marketing, public relations, creative services, and web functions.
She also will serve as a member of President McConnell’s Executive Leadership Team. “I’ve listened to President McConnell describe her vision for where she believes the university can go,” she said, “and it’s really inspiring. I’m excited to help realize that vision.”
There are a couple of other things Bevill says she’s looking forward to when she gets here, as well. “I can’t wait till we get football back,” she said. “I’m so very excited about football! And I haven’t lived in a bike-friendly community, so that’ll be an adventure. I told my kids I’d have to get a bike — they laughed at me, but we’ll see. I really do want to do it.”
“Vice President Bevill’s vast experience leading communication strategies in different challenging contexts and her proactive mindset will be a tremendous asset to Colorado State University,” said President McConnell. “Her ability to build consensus and chart a strategic course forward for University Communications puts her in the right place at the right time. With her leadership, we will build on our reputation as an innovative, excellent university, committed to sustainability, justice and global health and well-being to tell our story of excellence and service to the state of Colorado, the nation and the world.”
“Vice President Bevill’s vast experience leading communication strategies in different challenging contexts and her proactive mindset will be a tremendous asset to Colorado State University.”
— CSU President Joyce McConnell
And what about Bevill’s time at Treasury and that new $20 bill?
“It was a learning environment,” she said, “a place to broaden my horizons and really expand my worldview and communications knowledge. The use of our dollar spans the globe, so we had to communicate with people in different communities, in different cultures and even across language barriers.
“I recognized there is a diversity and inclusion that really is expansive — not just how we see it in the United States. It was a brilliant experience, getting a perspective that I didn’t have. And I’ve been fortunate to be able to bring that with me into new positions and settings.”
Pamela Jackson has been serving in the vice president role on an interim basis since the previous incumbent resigned in December 2018.
“We are indebted to Interim Vice President Jackson for leading University Communications through multiple transitions and enormous challenges,” said President McConnell. “She stepped into the interim role and immediately instituted critical changes, managed the presidential transition and led through the COVID-19 pandemic. I am profoundly grateful for her hard work and guidance through such a challenging time.”
Going forward, Jackson will serve as associate vice president for University Communications.