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John B. Adams Jr. will head board at VCU’s Brandcenter

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The Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter said Monday that John Adams has assumed the role of chairman of the VCU Brandcenter’s Board of Directors.

Adams, chairman of the Richmond-based Martin Agency, succeeds his longtime colleague Mike Hughes, the president of The Martin Agency. Hughes, who has led the brandcenter board for 20 years, now becomes chairman emeritus with the Brandcenter’s Advisory Board.

The school’s director Helayne Spivak said in a statement that the role of chairman “was a very important role for us to fill.” She became director at the Brandcenter in August 2012. “As I’m still relatively new to my position, it was important to me to find someone who, like Mike, was here at the Brandcenter’s inception. John was my first choice for this role and a unanimous favorite of our board for his ability to bring the board continuity and a great vision for the Brandcenter’s future.”



In his time at Martin, Adams has been at the helm as the agency continued to grow in size and prestige by winning such clients as Geico, Walmart, Pizza Hut and Discover Card. Adams and Hughes were featured on the cover of Adweek in 2010 when The Martin Agency was named U.S. Agency of the Year.


“The Brandcenter has never been shy about its ambition to provide the best education in the rapidly changing world of advertising,” Hughes said in a statement. “I’m especially proud of my part in helping to bring Helayne and John to these positions. I can’t imagine two better people to lead the changes and advances ahead. The students, faculty and the industry should all feel very good about this.”

Hughes was diagnosed with lung cancer about 15 years ago. Earlier this year, he began a personal blog at The Martin’s Aency's website that tracks the struggles he’s currently facing with the disease.

In the press statement by VCU about the change in leadership, Hughes says his 34-year partnership with Adams and his 20-year relationship with the Brandcenter “have been two of the highlights of my career. I envy their opportunity to help define the future of this business and the future of advertising and branding education.”



The VCU Brandcenter opened in 1996 as the graduate program in advertising and communications at VCU. It has consistently been recognized as one of the nation’s top creative portfolio schools. In 2010, the Brandcenter named its campus building Mike Hughes Hall.

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