Joel Curran was appointed senior vice president and chief communications officer in June 2023. Before coming to USC, he served as vice president for public affairs and communications at the University of Notre Dame. As a member of the president’s leadership council, he led Notre Dame’s national reputation and trust study, implemented several campuswide processes and procedures that created a more cohesive communications structure, and created a campus communications leadership council, among other initiatives to build greater engagement, trust and collaboration across the university.
Prior to joining Notre Dame, Curran was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s first vice chancellor for communications. There, he spent eight years as the chief communications officer at one of the most prominent, headline-driving universities in the country. As a top senior strategist and adviser to two chancellors, he set the communications and reputation management vision for the university. In doing so, he was directly involved in the strategic planning and response to many of the most significant issues confronting today’s campus leaders across America.
Before entering higher education communications, he spent his career working for The Walt Disney Co. and leading top global and regional agencies in the United States. Before returning to Carolina, Curran was managing director of MSL Group New York and directed the firm’s Midwest Region from Chicago. Prior to MSL Group, he was managing director of CKPR, the public relations arm of independent advertising agency Cramer-Krasselt headquartered in Chicago. Curran also worked at public relations firms FleishmanHillard in Los Angeles and Price/McNabb (now Mower) in Raleigh and Charlotte.
Earlier in his career, Curran spent two four-year tours with The Walt Disney Co. He began at the Walt Disney World Resort as a skipper on the world-famous Jungle Cruise attraction before becoming a publicist, theme park associate brand manager and rising to manager of synergy in Orlando. He was then appointed director of synergy for the company’s network and syndicated television shows in Burbank and Disney’s professional sports franchises at that time, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and California Angels franchises in Anaheim.
Joel earned his first Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil in 1992 and went on to lead teams that won numerous industry awards, including recognition as the Chicago PRSA chapter’s “Public Relations Professional of the Year.”
Curran holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and an executive education certificate in public leadership from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.