Luanne Lawrence, the communication vice president at the University of South Carolina who helped re-brand the school, confirmed Thursday that she is leaving the school after 2½ years.
She said she is taking a job at University of California-Davis as associate chancellor for strategic communications. She earned $237,000-a-year at USC.
"Leaving was a very hard decision because we have so much forward momentum and great things materializing with the branding and our other efforts," Lawrence wrote in an email. "We have built a very talented staff and they are pushing themselves to new heights. I am so proud of what we have achieved."
Lawrence said she is leaving South Carolina to join a school she admired much of her career that ranks eighth among public colleges by US News & World Report. USC ranks 55th.
She also wanted to return to the West where she worked at Oregon State before coming to Columbia in 2010.
Lawrence came to USC to develop a marketing and interactive plan for South Carolina.
She spearheaded a re-branding campaign at the school that debuted last year under a theme of No Limits with signs and billboards using the tail feathers from the Gamecock athletics logo. USC also opened a store in downtown Charleston.
The project start-up cost $900,000.
Her work aimed at boosting South Carolinas standing in U.S. News & World Reports annual college rankings. USCs rankings slipped last year because the school received lower scores in reviews from other colleges.
Lawrence also had a survey conducted last year that found North Carolina and Virginia both Top 5 public schools in the magazine rankings enjoy better reputations than USC among its students, parents, faculty, alumni and community leaders.
She also helped handle the school's public response to a NCAA probe into the athletics program.