Ann Ness, Hamline University

Title: Vice president of marketing and enrollment


Corporate brand-building veteran Ann Ness is applying her experience to higher education as Hamline University’s new vice president of marketing and enrollment.

Ness has three decades of experience in building and shaping global brands, most recently at Cargill Inc. She worked there as director of advertising and brand management and vice president for corporate brand management and led creation of a brand-building program designed to elevate Cargill’s global profile. She previously worked as director of marketing for Radisson Hotels Worldwide.

At Hamline, Ness leads marketing, enrollment, strategic communications and financial aid at the St. Paul-based university, which opened its Minneapolis center — where Hamline’s MBA program is housed — in 2008 in the West End development in St. Louis Park.

“Both at Radisson and again at Cargill, my focus was on identifying and sharpening the brand, and that is the opportunity that also exists at Hamline,” Ness said. “Even though the industries are so different, there’s quite a bit of relevance in taking a similar approach to identifying why Hamline is different from and better than its competitors and in what ways.”

Ness served as a member of Hamline’s board of trustees for three years before resigning to begin her new role with the ­university. Ness, who has a degree in journalism and political science from Indiana University, began her career as a news­paper reporter.


Q: What goes into building a strong brand?

A: It’s all about choices, in deciding what you’re going to do and what you’re not going to do, identifying those things you’re good at and sharing those with the world. It’s an area of focus, to identify for organizations and for people, what is the strength that can be identified so that it can be shared.

Q: What’s your message to prospective students?

A: That Hamline is a place where they will find exceptional ­academics for the right student, a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio that is quite impressive, and a commitment to diversity. Twenty-three percent of the student population is diverse, which is well above average.

Q: What’s the typical experience of students in Hamline’s MBA program?

A: People who are in our MBA program love it and love the cohort [a group of students who start and complete the program together]. It’s a diverse class where there’s no one else from their company and often no one else from their industry. It’s a group of 20 or so adult students [that] allows them to have very practical experience coupled with fabulous instruction. And they get to travel, as part of Hamline’s devotion to experiential learning.