Associate Dean and Chief Communications Officer, Office of Marketing and Communications
Samara Sit is a strategic communications and marketing leader driving excellence in higher education outreach through distinctive digital storytelling and innovative editorial strategies that unify campus communities, raise institutional profiles and instill pride. In her role as associate dean for marketing and communications and chief communications officer at the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Cornell CALS), Samara is responsible for promoting and elevating the college’s top-ranked reputation by serving as its lead communications strategist, spokesperson and marketing lead. She directs a digital-first, data-backed integrated strategy that supports two campuses, 4300 students and 360 faculty members. Samara also provides message development, issues management and crisis communications counsel to the dean and senior leadership.
Her team's award-winning relaunch of the college's digital web system and flagship site at cals.cornell.edu more than doubled year-over-year system visitation and realized Samara’s vision to help audiences connect with relevant info quickly using state-of-the-art technologies. In 2017, she released the college’s first-ever comprehensive strategic message strategy and visual identity, created in collaboration with the design firm IDEO. The new branding unified outreach efforts and helped achieve a 22% increase in first-year prospective student applications in the following school year. Samara has successfully advised or led more than ten additional identity projects throughout the college. One specific project of note is the rebranding of college’s Geneva, NY campus, now know as Cornell AgriTech, which immediately resulted in increased attention by journalists and elected officials. In 2020, CALS received their first #1 ranking in Ag Sciences from the Wall Street Journal/THE.
Samara’s career spans three start-ups, two universities and a national news program, always with a driving ambition to push the boundaries of what education and technology can achieve together. After working on interactive museum displays and managing an educational facility for K-12 students post college, Samara answered the call of the Internet revolution and joined a new venture editing teen-authored stories for an early content distributor. She took her passion for youth journalism to the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer as the manager of their multimedia engagement program for high school students and teachers. Her love of telling a good story through technology developed further as a television news producer for the flagship broadcast, producing live discussions and taped feature stories for a nightly international audience of two million viewers. A complex-projects fanatic, she also managed communications initiatives, operations and programs at George Washington University. Her accomplishments there included facilitating sold-out major campus events which were often livestreamed or shown on live national TV. They drew national media attention and trending Twitter hashtags, featuring VIP guests including renowned journalists, cabinet and Congressional members, and the occasional U.S. president.
Currently an at-large board member for the Public Relations Society of America’s Finger Lakes chapter, Samara previously supported youth journalism as a board member for Washington D.C’s independent teen newspaper “Young D.C.” She was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta, the international history honors society, and delivered the commencement address for her graduating class at American University. Samara resides in Lansing, NY, with her husband Dave, the wine writer for the Finger Lakes Times. In her spare time, she can usually be found outside practicing her nature photography and hiking local trails or inside pursuing her fitness goals with yoga, kickboxing, weight training, and spinning.
215 Garden Avenue
Roberts Hall 241
Ithaca, NY 14853
samara.sit [at] cornell.edu
Samara in the news
Since May 2018, the CALS Office of Marketing and Communications has been leading a strategic initiative to rethink the online system. Launched in late 2019, the first phase of the new web system expands the college’s digital storytelling...