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Founded in 1864, the University of Denver is the oldest independent university in the Rocky Mountain region. It has become one of the West’s premier private universities and plays an integral role in the cultural, social, economic and educational life of the vibrant and fast-growing city it calls home. Known as DU, the University is located on a 125-acre campus in a residential neighborhood just minutes from downtown Denver, Colorado’s vibrant, growing state capital that serves as a natural, important extension of the DU campus experience.
With 300 days of sunshine a year, there are plenty of reasons to get outside. Not only is Colorado the nation’s most popular ski destination, but it is also home to 4 national parks, 42 state parks and many outdoor recreation areas for boating, hiking, camping, swimming, snowmobiling, bird watching, picnicking, world-class fishing, hunting and biking. Due to active lifestyles and access to the outdoors, Colorado has the fittest and leanest population in the nation. DU students, faculty and staff enjoy countless adventures in the great outdoors of the vast Rocky Mountains and can explore the diverse cultural attractions, sporting events and vibrant city scene of Colorado’s Mile High City. Student athletes compete on NCAA Division I sports teams within various top-ranked conferences (including NCHC, the Summit League, Big 12, and Big East). DU’s ski team has won 24 NCAA championships, more than any ski team in NCAA history, and DU boasts 33 total NCAA championships across its teams.
On the professional level, Denver has a team in each of the four major sports leagues: the Denver Broncos in the NFL, the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL, the Denver Nuggets in the NBA and the Colorado Rockies in MLB. For creative entertainment, students can check out musical, theatrical and innovative performances in the on-campus Newman Center. The University campus also hosts the Pen and Podium series, which brings in several famous authors and poets to speak each year. The Denver Performing Arts Complex is the largest performing arts complex under one roof, and it is home to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Opera Colorado, Denver Center Theater Company and the Colorado Ballet. To explore downtown Denver, students can hop on the city’s Light Rail system, a network of trains that stop on campus and travel to more than 40 other locations. The city is known for its revitalized urban areas, including Lower Downtown, or LoDo, a hub of shopping, dining and nightlife that is eight miles from campus. The Metro Denver region is one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation. During the last 20 years, the University has invested more than $624 million in the construction of new buildings, including the Ritchie Center for Sports and Wellness, the Newman Centerfor the Performing Arts, Olin Hall, the Ricketson Law Building, Ruffatto Hall (Morgridge College of Education), the Daniels College of Business, the Joy Burns Center and the Anderson Academic Commons (home of Penrose Library), as well as two new residence halls. Through the Denver Advantage Campus Framework Plan, DU is further investing in a campus designed to fuel the collaborations and relationships to help students succeed. Currently under construction are the Community Commons, a new first-year residence hall, and the Pioneer Career Achievement Center. All three are informed by the strategic plan and represent the physical manifestation of creating “OneDU” where community building will strengthen among all populations at DU and blur the campus boundaries while being more visitor friendly to the surrounding neighborhoods. The entire campus is designated as an arboretum.
The University of Denver is an independent, doctoral-granting research university. U.S. News and World Report lists the University of Denver among the nation’s top 100 universities. DU is classified as a research university with high research activity by The Carnegie Foundation. The University enrolls over 11,000 students (approximately 6,000 undergraduate) from all regions of the United States and 76 other countries in its distinguished undergraduate liberal arts and sciences, graduate and professional programs. The University’s academic programs are organized into eight schools and colleges. Each program features cutting-edge curricula, professor-led courses and access to the latest tools and technology. The 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and small classes allow personalized instruction as well as diverse opportunities for research, exploration, and holistic student development. Experiential learning is encouraged. There are 696 full-time appointed faculty members of which 90 percent have earned the highest degree in their fields.
DU students are ethnically, culturally and spiritually diverse. Nearly 20 percent of the class of 2022 students are first-generation. What binds all DU students together is a commitment to new experiences, small class sizes, individualized attention and access to professors, a love of diverse perspectives and scholarly excellence and an insatiable curiosity and drive to make a difference. Students work closely with faculty, staff, peers, and members of the community on projects, research and fieldwork. They cross disciplines to discover new perspectives and approaches to problem solving. To prepare students for the challenges of productive citizenship, the University of Denver offers rigorous and practical programs that emphasize critical thinking, creative and collaborative problem solving through experiential learning and global experience. When students leave DU, they are ready to make a difference in communities around the world.
As an institution, DU boasts outstanding external engagement, which manifests itself in fundraising, partnerships and ongoing alumni engagement efforts. DU’s endowment, as of June 2018, surpassed $760 million, and the University’s research partnerships with corporations including Arrow Electronics, DaVita, DePuy, Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance, solidify DU as an outstanding economic contributor and source of academic expertise. Notable DU alumni include former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George Casey; former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton; Time Magazine Editor at Large David von Drehle; President and CEO of Toyota North America Jim Lentz; former Visa CEO Joseph Saunders; and Olympic gold medalist Michelle Kwan.
About the Chancellor
Rebecca Chopp, Ph.D., has been chancellor of the University of Denver since September 2014. Informed by a planning process involving the consultation of thousands of community members, she developed the DU IMPACT 2025 strategic plan. DU IMPACT 2025 focuses on the 21st-century transformation of knowledge, the holistic education of students and the University’s engagement in local and global organizations and communities. A visionary leader, Chopp emphasizes the importance of developing DU as an intentional community—comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the University— and the creation of a welcoming and inclusive global community on a campus where people from all backgrounds can thrive.
From 2009 to 2014, Chopp was president of Swarthmore College, founded in 1864 outside Philadelphia and ranked the third-best liberal arts college in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. At Swarthmore, Chopp passionately upheld the college's longstanding commitment to admitting the most highly qualified students without regard for their financial circumstances. She supported innovative ways for faculty and students to interact at Swarthmore and extended the distinct role the school plays in educating students to build inclusive communities and to become leaders motivated to contribute to the common good.
Before joining Swarthmore, Chopp served as president of Colgate University, where she led a comprehensive strategic plan that expanded the university's academic space, strengthened academic programs and developed new interdisciplinary centers. She also served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University and as a dean at Yale University.
The Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications will serve as a member of Chancellor Chopp’s senior leadership team and serve as the University’s chief communications and marketing officer. They are responsible for advising the Chancellor and other senior administrators, developing communications and marketing strategy for the University and advancing and protecting the reputation of the University, both proactively and reactively. The leader will be a highly experienced senior administrator who ispassionate about the University and its mission. The Vice Chancellor will manage, lead, and inspire the Division of Communications and Marketing and coordinate with officers in various schools and units to communicate effectively across a diverse range of internal and external stakeholders, using a broad range of traditional and social media. A member of the Chancellor’s cabinet, the Vice Chancellor will collaborate and partner with all senior leaders to activate and advance the goals of The University of Denver.
The Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications will develop a communications and marketing strategy for the University of Denver that will increase its global visibility and reputation. The Vice Chancellor will provide vision and direction for a boldcommunications and marketing plan, which will reflect the achievements and aspirations of a great University. Working with key stakeholders, the Vice Chancellor will create and implement strategies to amplify the themes and goals of the University’s strategic plan, DU IMPACT 2025; the University’s upcoming comprehensive campaign; and ongoing student recruitment and marketing initiatives. The Vice Chancellor will offer a clearly-defined strategy for both crisis communication and reputation management. They will work with precision to strategically position the University within an ever-evolving marketplace. As a key member of the Chancellor’s senior team, the Vice Chancellor will need to inspire confidence in both leadership and systems, as well as a feeling of ownership in the DU brand, prompting others to embrace fully the communications and marketing objectives of the University.
The Vice Chancellor will build collaborative relationships with campus partners to ensure an integrated approach to DU’s communications and marketing. With dedicated communications and marketing staff in many of the schools and units, the Vice Chancellor will develop positive working relationships across campus to ensure that efforts are integrated and efficient. As the lead curator of the University’s stories, the Vice Chancellor will need to be active and engaged with faculty, administrators, staff, students, parents/families and alumni to recognize and promote the unique and compelling aspects of this multifaceted campus. In addition to strong campus relationships and internal communications, the Vice Chancellor will cultivate and leverage relationships with local and international media to advance the University’s message and create strategic opportunities for thought leadership.
The Vice Chancellor will support a contemporary, high-level communications and marketing function. In order to meet the many demands of the office, the Vice Chancellor will ensure that the structure, staffing and systems are in place for optimal workflow management and overall success. Given the pace of change in the field, the Vice Chancellor should have a thorough understanding of traditional and emerging media and empower a staff who are nimble leaders in their respective areas. To be most successful, the Vice Chancellor will develop a strong, diverse team, whose members share a clear vision and work to fulfill measurable goals. The Vice Chancellor will need to foster a culture of creativity and innovation informed by predictive modelling and advanced analytics.
The Vice Chancellor oversees the Communications and Marketing team, which covers a full range of communications responsibilities. The division’s staff is presently organized in four areas: Communications/Media Relations, Digital Marketing, Creative Services and Project Management. This team is responsible for advertising, media relations, photography, print publications, social media, video, website development and the University of Denver Magazine. The Vice Chancellor will play a key role in crisis communications strategy and will prepare for a diverse spectrum of potential communications scenarios.
The Vice Chancellor is responsible for guiding the development and implementation of communications and marketing strategy for the University. Specifically, the Vice Chancellor will:
- Demonstrate extraordinary leadership experience, strategic vision, proven skills for conveying both internal and external messages, innovation, creative energy and collaborative spirit.
- Build a proactive comprehensive marketing and communications strategy that is based upon institutional priorities and major university strategic initiatives.
- Identify core messages that leverage and emphasize DU’s unique strengths and excellent academic programs, differentiating DU from peers; and convey comprehensive and cohesive messages related to the university’s strategic initiatives.
- Review and update university communications and marketing plans, utilizing print and digital mediums, advertising, social media, website and media relations efforts to increase the understanding of and support for University of Denver.
- Align the current array of messaging and communication activities for greater impact and consistent messaging across all channels; ensure the appropriate direction and coordination of key communications that reflect the highest degree of quality, consistency, integrity and effectiveness.
- Oversee proactive media relations and internal communications programs that are aligned and deliver consistent messages; disseminate information, research, culture and institutional values to targeted audiences, including internal constituencies, prospective students, general public, donors and others.
- Proactively promote university faculty and other leaders in the media (e.g., publicize their research and connect them to relevant media as experts and thought leaders in their field). Develop similar strategies to showcase student and alumni achievements, working closely with key stakeholders.
- Continue to build internal communications across the DU community, with focus on and sensitivity to students, faculty, and staff.
- Build robust, positive, and collaborative working relationships with various constituencies, including communications personnel and partners across the University, to ensure championing of consistent, high quality communications. Ensure that Communications and Marketing is a collaborative partner with the schools and administrative divisions able to address opportunities and concerns, and a thought leader whose opinion on all communication matters is valued.
- Counsel the Chancellor, in close coordination with the Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff, on the strategic direction and integration of executive communications. Help identify opportunities for external positioning, where the Chancellor can play a role as thought leader on a broad range of topics.
- Develop and enhance the Communications and Marketing division’s capabilities, tapping into existing strengths, ensuring skills are contemporary and best in class, and deepening the bench of outstanding deputies. Embed data and analytics as a core element of planning and impact analysis, maintaining an outcomes-oriented approach rooted in the value of KPIs, analytics and metrics.
- Identify and grow opportunities for brand alignment with University partners (e.g., advise DU leaders on which potential partners have brands most aligned and complementary to DU’s and whose partnerships will increase DU’s brand equity).
University of Denver seeks an experienced and collaborative communications professional to work closely with the Chancellor and other senior officials as they shape the story regarding the direction and impact of the University. As this is a role that sits at the senior-most level of the institution, the Vice Chancellor must be someone who has the strategic insights, communications and marketing expertise, and intellectual capacity to engage with and be viewed as a credible counselor to a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. This is someone who is comfortable in the spotlight, but effective behind the scenes; able to manage up, and equally effective leading teams and influencing peers; and has the capacity to balance the passion of a mission-oriented organization with the pragmatism required to effectively lead this function. The Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing will serve as a catalyst for the University, helping both internal and external audiences to understand the successes, direction, and true leadership of DU as a place where academics, research, community involvement and global exploration come together to build a foundation for lifelong achievement.
The ideal candidate will have served in the chief communications officer capacity, managing both the overarching strategy as well as the day-to-day operational components of the function. The Vice Chancellor will bring an entrepreneurial spirit with the ability to push and challenge DU in its approach to branding, messaging and communications. Substantial leadership and management experience in a large, complex environment is a must, and insight, passion and experience in higher education is highly preferred.
Candidate Traits and Qualifications
- Vision and insight relevant to the design and implementation of a marketing and communications strategy that advances the University’s long-term mission, increases its visibility and enables it to respond effectively to crises and other immediate challenges.
- Demonstrated ability to develop clear, targeted and non-traditional branding and marketing strategies tailored for different audiences and channels.
- Experience strengthening existing branding strategies and a strong familiarity with using traditional and non-traditional media to build and raise awareness. Has keen understanding of the role of social and digital media as platforms to changing public perception and/or behavior.
- Superb organizational and written/verbal communications skills and demonstrated experience in managing communications during crisis situations.
- Experience providing strategic communications counsel to executive leadership.
- Ability to serve as a strategic advisor to the Chancellor on issues of communication and institutional reputation.
- Significant experience and success in working with the media.
- Analytical skills and ability to effectively lead a metrics-driven approach to evaluating campaigns and efforts.
- Understanding of trends in higher education and the ability to deliver innovative communications to segmented audiences.
- Bachelor’s degree ideally in communications, journalism, marketing or related fields. An advanced degree is strongly preferred.
- Deep appreciation of and belief in DU’s mission and the role it plays within higher education, its
- community and the world.
- A highly communicative and collaborative leadership style that fosters an environment of trust among a broad group of community and functional partners.
- Deep experience with, knowledge about and a passion for higher education.
- A catalyst for cross-functional cooperation and idea generation. An active listener who demonstrates respect for others and, in turn, gains their respect.
- Proven track record as a people manager that builds and enhances strong and diverse teams.
- Skillful advocate and practitioner, as well as an exceptional leader and manager of people; proven ability to develop and nurture talent.
- Strong commitment to and intrinsic motivation related to diversity and inclusion; demonstrated ability to build positive and effective working relationships with people having a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.
- Reliable judgment, trusted discretion and strong interpersonal skills to relate to numerous and varied constituencies of the University and the community.
Year One Critical Success Factors
- Reviewing and implementing a communications and marketing plan that articulates clear, compelling and consistent messages about DU and its mission, its resources/assets and its leadership.
- Establishing positive working relationships with the faculty and administration to understand both DU’s core assets and to be an adviser in the long-range strategic planning process.
- Reviewing the Communications and Marketing Division and creating a plan for its organization and staffing going forward.
- Hit the ground running, understanding the ongoing website redevelopment and rollout effort. Lead project management efforts, ensuring consistency across divisions and key stakeholders.