New chief communications officer named for UF&Shands

Melanie Fridl Ross, M.S.J., E.L.S.

A nationally recognized medical writer and public relations practitioner has been named chief communications officer for UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center.
Melanie Fridl Ross, M.S.J., E.L.S., formerly the director of the UF Health Science Center News & Communications office, will oversee integrated strategic marketing, communications, public relations and public affairs efforts for UF&Shands across the two academic health center campuses in Gainesville and Jacksonville, six health-related colleges, various UF research centers and institutes, Shands at UF, Shands Jacksonville and UF faculty practices.
“Ms. Ross is extremely well-qualified to serve as chief communications officer,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System. “For the past two years, she has increased integration and cooperation in communications across the academic health center, and she has helped with the strategy and promotion of a number of efforts, beginning with ‘Forward Together,’ the strategic plan we announced in May 2010 to more closely align the university and the health system.”
Since becoming news and communications director for the Health Science Center in 2009, Ross has increased integration and cooperation among professional communicators at Shands at UF, Shands Jacksonville and UF University Relations, and has succeeded in raising the profile of the colleges, centers and institutes that comprise the Health Science Center, Guzick said.
The determination that a single chief communications officer would best serve UF&Shands was made with input and concurrence from the senior leadership team and the approval of UF President Bernie Machen, Guzick said.
Ross’ duties include oversight of internal and external communications programs, media relations, news and publications, public information, donor and alumni communications, issues management and crisis communications, public affairs, communications-related web strategy efforts, and a variety of other outreach activities.
Executive producer of Health in a Heartbeat, an award-winning consumer health series that airs on public radio affiliates in more than 18 states and Washington, D.C., Ross teaches news reporting as an adjunct faculty member of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications.
She joined UF in 1992 after working as a reporter for The Tampa Tribune. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and is a board-certified editor in the life sciences. She is president of the American Medical Writers Association.
She serves as a WUFT-FM/WJUF-FM Ambassador, and is a member of the Group on Institutional Advancement arm of the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Council of Science Editors, the National Association of Science Writers, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences.