Chief Communications Officer 

The Opportunity

Ursinus College seeks a highly qualified and experienced leader to join the College as the first Chief Communications Officer (“CCO”).  The new CCO will report directly to the President.  The overriding objective for the CCO is to create a structure and strategy to effectively tell the College’s story and generate widespread understanding of and engagement with Ursinus.  The CCO will be a creative communications leader who can design an organizational structure to enable the College to communicate effectively with a variety of constituents, using a broad range of traditional and electronic media.  The person will be an essential partner with the Admission and Advancement departments.  The CCO will oversee the communications, marketing, and web staff and will be responsible for leading and managing a results-oriented and collaborative team.  The new CCO is expected to begin no later than July 1, 2014. 

The College

Chartered in 1869, Ursinus enrolls 1750 undergraduate students from 35 states and 12 countries.  More than 20 percent are students of color and 95 percent live in the College’s residence halls.  A 12:1 student/faculty ratio enables a learning environment in which intensely engaged faculty members teach, mentor, and partner with students in a process of intellectual growth, personal development, self-actualization, and multi-faceted achievement. 

The mission of Ursinus is “to prepare students to live creatively and usefully and to provide leadership for society in an interdependent world.”  The academic programs of the College are built on this mission and lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in 29 major fields and 52 minor fields.  Ursinus shelters a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and its students frequently receive Fulbright Scholarships, Thomas J. Watson Fellowships, Udall Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships, Kemper Foundation Scholarships, and UNCF-Merck Foundation Research Stipends.  Ursinus had its first Rhodes Scholar in 2010. 

The Accomplishments

During the last decade the College has achieved unprecedented growth and experienced many distinctive accomplishments, including:

Fiscal:

  • Enrollment growth from 1,300 to 1,750 students
  • $60 million College operating budget
  • Increase in net revenue per student from $18,700 to $30,300
  • 31 new tenure track positions, bringing the total faculty count to 129
  • Endowment growth from $84M to $120M
  • Annually balanced budgets
  • A Standard & Poor’s Bond Rating of A-, reaffirmed in March 2013 

Academic:

  • A focus on internships, student research, study abroad, performance, and collaboration as key features of the academic program
  • A distinctive educational program that includes emphasis on the development of character, judgment, and attention to interdisciplinary perspectives—which are evident in the new Center for Science and the Common Good and the U-Imagine! Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Studies 

The Campus

The 170-acre campus located 25 miles from Philadelphia has undergone considerable change as the College has invested more than $100 million in physical plant and facilities over the last dozen years in support of students, faculty, and programs.  The campus now has approximately 1.25 million square feet of classroom and activity space throughout fifteen campus buildings and fifty houses used for programs or student housing. 

The Chief Communications Officer:  Opportunities for Leadership

The CCO will manage the communications and marketing staff of 3 and web staff of 2.  The communications, marketing and web staff support the College’s administrative and academic programs by providing appropriate communications regarding the overall achievements of the College, its faculty, staff and students.  The majority of communications, marketing, and web staff members are based in the Myrin Library.  All staff members contribute to both the academic and administrative functions of the College.  Key areas for the communications and marketing initiatives over the next several years include an enhanced media presence, essential relationship development with press and key area leaders, vibrant use of technology, and effective marketing especially as it pertains to Admission and Advancement as we prepare for our next comprehensive campaign. In addition, the College will be launching a comprehensive new web redesign in September 2014 along with implementing a new content management system.

The CCO:

  • Supports the College’s mission with a special emphasis on the current strategic plan, while unifying, managing, and advancing the College’s brand. 
  • Tells the College’s story through a variety of creative methods, including new media, social networking, direct marketing, video, print, web, email and the news media.  Enhanced testing and measurement will be important in determining the effectiveness of each method.
  • Creates and effectively deploys a strategic marketing, communications, and web plan that will allow the College to broadly share its messages and cultivate and enhance meaningful relationships with targeted audiences, including but not limited to media, political leaders, prospective students, current students, alumni, parents, friends, donors, faculty, staff, the Collegeville community, and other key constituents nationally and internationally.
  • Works in close partnership with the President and Vice Presidents of the College to collectively harness their talents, knowledge, and skills to build a successful, collaborative external relations program for the College and a strong, consistent institutional identity.
  • Partners with the Admission department to develop key marketing strategies that increase awareness of the College among targeted constituencies, thus increasing applications and admissions to the College. 
  • Partners with the Advancement department in developing communications, marketing and web strategies to assist in the successful launch and execution of a comprehensive campaign, which currently is in the planning stages. 
  • Forges close and positive town and gown relationships and advises the President and others on partnership opportunities and areas requiring institutional attention and response. 
  • Leads a strong team to create and disseminate clear and consistent messages both internally and externally. 
  • Oversees the communications, marketing and web personnel and programs:  assesses the current organizational structure of these programs and adjusts as needed; manages staff and their corresponding performance goals; promotes a culture of continuous improvement that values learning and a commitment to quality; manages departmental budgets and resources with a commitment to productivity and efficiency; elevates the College’s communications, marketing and web programs that are distinctive and reflective of a high caliber institution. 
  • Provides expertise as the College point person for crisis communication; serves as a member of the College’s crisis management team and helps maintain the written crisis management plan. 

The Desired Attributes for the CCO

The Chief Communications Officer shall possess a record of innovative and effective ways of working with others, a positive attitude and self-image, and the courage to take risks while working to achieve stated goals.  The CCO must have high professional aspirations and be willing to travel on a limited basis.  The CCO must be capable of representing the College in regional and national settings.  The ideal candidate must have an enthusiasm and appreciation of a liberal arts education and Ursinus College in particular. 

To perform the job successfully, the candidate should demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Readiness to develop productive partnerships, both internal and external, to raise the College’s communications, marketing and web programs to a higher level. 
  • Strategic marketing experience to assist the Advancement department in marketing a comprehensive fundraising campaign and the Admission department in increasing applications and admissions to the College. 
  • Effectiveness in bringing people and organizations together in the interest of common goals, teamwork, common values, and principle-based decision-making.
  • An ability to work within a complex organizational environment that requires solid professional judgment and an ability to prioritize in the face of competing demands.  The CCO must demonstrate the ability to create standards, recommend policies, and shape plans that make sense to the community through appropriate communication, transparency, and stakeholder engagement.
  • Critical, strategic, and creative thinking about the College’s communications, marketing and web programs.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • A professional manner in dealing with others and the ability to maintain constructive working relationships.
  • Well-organized and proactive disposition, skilled at prioritizing work activities and developing realistic action plans.

Qualifications

The ideal candidate will be an accomplished professional with significant experience (at least 10 years) in communications, marketing, and web services with a keen sense of the current market forces in higher education, especially the liberal arts. In addition, the Chief Communications Officer will have a track record that includes: 

  • A record of leadership and success in creating and managing teams responsible for communications, marketing, news, media, and web;
  • A broad vision of the future of communications, marketing and web programs with a strong understanding of the latest trends in communication, public relations, and technology;
  • Superior skills in communications and relationship building marked by transparency and fairness;
  • A record in strategic communications planning and crisis communications with an understanding of issues in higher education, especially private higher education;
  • A successful record of creating innovative approaches for communicating with a wide range of audiences;
  • Experience in executing a successful and strategic social media campaign with proven results;
  • Demonstrated ability to creatively manage a budget in an environment of limited funding and resources;
  • A successful record of publications and/or high-visibility media placements;
  • Commitment to high performance and results, especially in areas that can be measured;
  • A Bachelor’s degree with appropriate experience; Master’s degree strongly desired.

Nominations and Inquiries

The Chief Communications Officer search committee will begin reviewing applications in February and aims to develop a list of finalists by the end of March.  Applications will be received and considered until the position is filled. Applications must include a letter of interest, resume, five professional references with email and telephone numbers (references will not be contacted without prior authorization from the applicant), and a portfolio of achievement.  Applications and nominations should be sent electronically (MS Word preferred) to CCOsearch@Ursinus.eduand may be addressed to:

Jill Leauber Marsteller ’78, CCO Search Committee Chair
Senior Vice President for Advancement
Ursinus College
601 E. Main Street
Collegeville, PA  19426