Richmond, Va.
Monday, Aug. 3, 2015

VCU Brandcenter Building Named for Mike Hughes

Friday, Oct. 29, 2010

The Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter formally dedicated its building as Mike Hughes Hall on Wednesday, honoring the longtime chairman of the VCU Brandcenter board.

Hughes was instrumental in helping the program’s founder, Diane Cook-Tench, create and build a graduate program in advertising and marketing communications at VCU that is now recognized as one of the premier advertising programs in the world. Hughes has served as the chairman of the VCU Brandcenter board of directors since the program’s inception in 1995.

“As the nation's leading program in advertising, the Brandcenter's mission is to navigate and lead change for the advertising industry,” says VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “It is fitting that the home of the Brandcenter is named after one of the industry's most progressive change agents, Mike Hughes. His leadership as chairman of the VCU Brandcenter Board resulted in a premier graduate advertising program. VCU is grateful for Mike's commitment and thought leadership throughout the years, and is proud to name the building for him.”

Hughes is president of The Martin Agency, the Richmond-based advertising agency with clients such as Walmart, Pizza Hut, GEICO and Tylenol. The Martin Agency was named “Agency of the Year” in January by Adweek magazine. In March, Hughes was the 47th person to be inducted in the One Club Creative Hall of Fame. A frequent winner and judge at international advertising competitions, he has served as a director of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and chairman of its creative committee. He was a leader in the Advertising Council’s post-9/11 Freedom and Homeland Security campaigns.

"Mike Hughes has been an integral part of the VCU Brandcenter since its inception,” says Rick Boyko, director of the Brandcenter. “In fact, without his support, leadership and dedication the school would simply not exist. As chairman of the board from the day the school began, he has helped guide the school to earn top rankings by BusinessWeek, Advertising Age, Creativity magazine, the 4A's and the industry itself. It is only fitting to have the building that houses the Brandcenter named in his honor."

Rao, Boyko, Interpublic Group chairman Michael Roth and Martin Agency chairman and CEO John Adams spoke at the dedication.  

The VCU Brandcenter building was designed by the internationally renowned architect Clive Wilkinson, who has designed creative spaces spaces for Google, Disney Store Kingdom and advertising agencies such as TBWA/Chiat/Day (Los Angeles), Mother (London) and JWT (New York). For the Brandcenter project, Wilkinson partnered with Richmond-based Baskervill. The 27,000-square-foot building in VCU's Monroe Park Campus Addition was originally used as the carriage house for the historic Jefferson Hotel. From the open architecture layout to the creative materials and colors used in the overall design, the Brandcenter space helps foster creativity and collaboration among faculty and students.

Originally named the VCU Adcenter, the VCU Brandcenter is the first graduate program in advertising to combine business-oriented communications strategy and brand management tracks with a creative program for art directors and copywriters in a business setting. It was formed to develop the skills of talented postgraduates, enabling them to enter the business world with a highly competitive portfolio of collaborative thinking. The VCU Brandcenter is a graduate program for the business of advertising and marketing communications within the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University. The program offers five tracks: art direction, copywriting, creative brand management, creative technology and communication strategy. VCU Brandcenter students earn a Master of Science degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in advertising. It is a two-year, full-time program that begins each fall. For more information, visit

Mike Hughes with his wife, Ginny, in front of the building that will now carry his name. Photos by Marc Andrew Stephens
Mike Hughes with VCU President Michael Rao
(From left) John Adams, chairman and CEO of The Martin Agency; Michael Roth, chairman of Interpublic Group; Rick Boyko, director of the VCU Brandcenter
Rick Boyko, director of the VCU Brandcenter