Tom Luljak, vice chancellor for University Relations & Communications, has announced his retirement after more than two decades of distinguished service to UWM.
Luljak joined UWM in 2000, when he was hired as the university’s first director of marketing services. In 2001, he became vice chancellor, serving as chief administrator for the Division of University Relations & Communication, with responsibilities as the chief legislative relations, marketing and communications officer. He leads the university’s Integrated Marketing & Communications, Web & Mobile, External Relations, and Print & Copy teams.
“Tom’s advocacy of UWM over the last 20 years has been extraordinary and straight from the heart. He has persistently built and advanced the UWM brand, navigating immense changes in how we reach many important and varied constituents,” Chancellor Mark Mone said. “He has effectively represented UWM in Madison and Washington, D.C., as our chief lobbyist. It is critically important for state and federal officials to know the unique role UWM has as both a research and access institution. Tom brought many elected officials to our campuses over the years to see first-hand what a difference we are making.”
In addition to his administrative duties, Luljak served as an instructor in the Department of Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies, teaching corporate communications and sports marketing courses.
He also hosted the UWM Today program on WUWM for the past two decades. In more than 800 programs, he interviewed approximately 1,000 faculty, staff, alumni and students about their research, teaching and community service.
“I love learning the stories behind the amazing research that takes place on our campus,” Luljak said. “It’s not just sharing what researchers discover — it’s finding out what leads a person to dedicate their lives to academic research that improves lives and creates stronger communities.”
In addition to showcasing UWM’s research, the radio program has featured the many partnerships between the university and businesses and community organizations in the region.
Luljak is a proud graduate of UWM, where he earned his master’s degree in mass communication. He received his bachelor’s degree in radio/TV/film and speech education from UW-Oshkosh.
Luljak spent the first part of his career as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He was the news director for WTMJ-TV and Radio and served on the board of directors for the national Radio Television News Directors Association. He received a Peabody Award for investigative journalism while at WTMJ. Before joining UWM, Luljak was director of corporate communications at Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin.
He has served on numerous boards, including the Milwaukee Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, American Lung Association of Wisconsin and the Forest Exploration Center. In January, he became president of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, a 150-year-old organization that promotes critical thinking, creativity and civil discourse in its statewide programming.
“Tom has positively impacted thousands of lives over two decades by vividly relaying how UWM is a life-changing institution. He has been crucial to our student recruitment and retention efforts through award-winning marketing efforts,” Mone said. “I will greatly miss him. Tom has been a valued colleague and friend. I know his retirement will be energetic and impactful as he continues his community engagement and, more importantly, spending time with his family that includes a growing number of grandchildren!”
Luljak will leave behind a legacy of optimism as someone who lifted others and helped them to see the best opportunities in challenging situations.
“I am blessed to have worked with a tremendous team of professionals in University Relations. Their dedication, energy and creativity have helped us communicate UWM’s story to people around the world,” Luljak said. “I have also treasured my experiences teaching marketing and public relations courses on campus. Our students are incredibly tenacious. Seeing firsthand their passion to learn has helped me do a better job of marketing UWM to prospective students.”
Luljak’s retirement is effective on June 3. An announcement regarding interim leadership for the Division of University Relations & Communications will be coming soon, and a national search will commence later this year.