David Lampe, the University’s vice president for communications, will step down from his job on April 4 to assume the newly created position of executive director of research communications.

As executive director of research communications, Lampe will work in the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research, which is headed by Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest. Kallie Bila Michels, an associate vice president for communications at the University, will become interim vice president for communications until a permanent replacement for Lampe is found.

In an interview yesterday, Lampe said in his new role he hopes to bring greater recognition to the different types of research being done at the University.

“I think we’re under recognized for the scope, the scale, the impact and the value of what we do in research,” Lampe said. “My role will be to help U of M get the recognition it deserves for the excellence of the research it does do regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Lampe first came to the University to serve as the vice president for communications in 2007. His responsibilities included overseeing the University News Service, Office of Public Affairs, Freedom of Information Office, University publications, speechwriting for University executives and the design and content of the University’s gateway website.

Lampe said his new position is something he’s had “in the back of (his) mind” and will allow him to devote more of his expertise to communicating the University’s research.

“I’ve coordinated a lot of communications and activities surrounding the University’s stated goal to help catalyze the transformation of the economy,” Lampe said. “It’s relatively recently that in conversations, in particular with Steve Forrest, that it’d be worth devoting more resources to that particular aspect of our mission.”

University President Mary Sue Coleman wrote in a University press release last week that Lampe has excelled in his current position and will succeed in his new job.

“David has been a delightful colleague and has led the University through many challenging issues while building a strong foundation for continuing innovation in communications and marketing at Michigan,” Coleman wrote. “I wish him well in this new endeavor and know that recognition for the importance and impact of U-M’s research enterprise will be strengthened under his guidance.”

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Forrest created the new position Lampe will assume because the University’s research enterprise becomes larger each year. University research spending topped $1 billion for the second consecutive year in 2010.

“(Forrest) saw a role for a much more closer working relationship with someone to communicate that on a variety of different levels and work closely with him to get that message out,” Fitzgerald said.

With masters degrees in journalism and mechanical engineering, Fitzgerald said the new position fits all of Lampe’s interests.

“The more (Lampe and Forrest) talked about it, the more David realized that this was really his passion,” Fitzgerald said. “(Research) is an area that’s very close to his heart. He believes in research and technology, and it’s an area that he knows a lot about.”

Lampe earned his masters degree in mechanical engineering in 1976 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his masters degree in journalism in 1981 from Stanford University. Prior to coming to the University of Michigan, Lampe served as executive director of marketing and communications at the Harvard University Business School, a position he assumed in 2002.

Fitzgerald said there is currently no time frame to find a permanent replacement for Lampe in the Office of the Vice President of Communications.

“President Coleman asked Kallie Michels to step into that role temporarily,” Fitzgerald said. “As far as I know, there hasn’t been the conversation to move that forward yet beyond that point.”

Before she became associate vice president for communications in 2008, Michels had been the director of public relations for the University of Michigan Health System since 2000.

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