Vice President of Real Estate and Facilities

Pennsylvania, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Oct 29, 2020
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

About Drexel

Drexel is a comprehensive global research university ranked among the top 100 in the nation. With over 24,000 students, Drexel is one of America's 15 largest private universities. Drexel is one of Philadelphia's top 10 private employers, and a major engine for economic development in the region. Drexel has committed to being the nation’s most civically engaged university, with community partnerships integrated into every aspect of service and academics.

Job Summary

This Vice President of Real Estate and Facilities will be the steward of Drexel’s built environment both on and off campus. Reporting directly to the Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer (COO), the Vice President for Real Estate and Facilities (VP-REF) will provide strategic/master planning, general management and professional direction for all of Drexel’s buildings and properties. The Vice President will be charged with managing the departments within Real Estate and Facilities – Business Operations, Environmental Health & Safety, Facilities Management, Planning, Design & Construction, and Real Estate & Lease Management – and articulating a vision for the team that encompasses cross-functional projects including but not limited to the campus master plan, capital budgeting, modernization of campus facilities and infrastructure, real estate development, and emergency preparedness. The VP of REF will manage the relationship with and support the leadership of the Academy of Natural Sciences (ANS), a subsidiary of Drexel University, through participation on the ANS Assets Committee.  The successful incumbent will be expected to create and sustain an environment that supports the University’s core educational and research mission and that attracts, retains and supports the best and brightest students, faculty and professional staff.

The Vice President of Real Estate and Facilities will be involved, along with the President and Executive Vice President, in the ongoing stewardship of the University’s ambitious Schuylkill Yards innovation neighborhood development project, in partnership with the project’s third-party master developer, Brandywine Realty Trust. The goal of the project is to transform 10 acres of University-owned, contiguous real estate adjacent to Drexel’s University City Campus and Amtrak’s 30th Street Station into Schuylkill Yards -- a dynamic, mixed-use, urban destination where students, faculty, entrepreneurs and industry-leading firms are encouraged to engage in innovative research, cooperative education, technological advancement, inclusive growth and civic engagement. The selected candidate will also actively manage the University’s ongoing relationship with third-party master developer Wexford Science + Technology in the development of uCity Square, where Drexel and Wexford are currently constructing the K-8 Powel Elementary/Science Leadership Academy Middle School and the Drexel Academic Tower, which will house the College of Nursing and Health Professions and various functions of the College of Medicine. The VP-REF will also participate in and/or lead collaborative campus planning solutions for other strategic partnerships impacting facilities and real estate, such as the University’s partnership with Tower Health.

The Vice President of Real Estate and Facilities is responsible for supporting and navigating business development discussions with prospective business partners associated with Schuylkill Yards and uCity Square, helping to spur and support interest, and to collaboratively create a business environment that attracts prospective Drexel business partners in research, development and technology.

The VP-REF also serves as the president of Academic Properties Inc. (API), a wholly owned, non-profit subsidiary of Drexel University, that owns, manages, leases or operates a portfolio of over 1 million square feet of both commercial and residential holdings. API is responsible for the acquisition of strategic properties that give control to Drexel, with the goal of obtaining significant growth potential upon development.

The selected candidate must have excellent interpersonal, communications and relationship-building skills and be able to lead a staff of 366, including 320 union personnel, with eight direct reports. The VP-REF must develop and maintain effective relationships with University administration, faculty, students, partners, developers, and other campus constituencies. Organized, technically sound and credible, the ideal candidate will be a flexible, responsive manager who is hands on, proactive and a good problem solver.

Essential Functions

  • Develop a vision and strategic plan for REF that reflects a clear understanding of Drexel University’s direction as well as national trends and innovations in the management of higher education facilities departments. Recommend and implement policies, planning guidelines and procedures in areas of responsibility.
  • Lead the development and implementation of the campus master plan in support of the mission, vision, goals and objectives of the University’s Strategic Plan. Provide continuous maintenance of short- and long-range master plans, concentrating on a proactive plan to address deferred maintenance and renovations, as well as a plan to consolidate the College of Medicine on the University City Campus and monetize the University’s property holdings in East Falls (Queen Lane Campus) and Center City.
  • Identify and assess campus-wide capital renewal and deferred maintenance needs; planning, design and construction of new facilities and renovation projects; maintenance and operation of the physical plant; oversight of support services such as health & safety and transportation; space management; and planning and management of the capital budget and lease budget.
  • Develop evidence-based design instruments that demonstrate how investments in the physical plant support key aspects of the University’s mission including but not limited to:
  • Undergraduate and graduate student recruitment and retention;
  • Faculty recruitment and retention;
  • Faculty and student research; and
  • Community engagement.
  • Manage and administer the University’s real estate portfolio. Analyze the performance of the portfolio holdings to accurately ensure Landlord and Tenant commitments are being properly upheld. Provide accurate and factual information to the University community that supports informed and intelligent business decision processes.
  • Oversee the review, analysis and negotiation of all real estate transactions to include acquisitions, dispositions, leasing and sub-leasing activities to best maximize the University’s interests, financial objectives and market presence. Prepare financial analysis and documentation that supports key decision-making processes for real estate transactions, and oversee the performance of required due diligence activities in evaluating new real estate deals.
  • Leverage underutilized University real estate assets through strategic redevelopment, including pursuing transactions with third-party developers on University-controlled land in the best interests of the University.
  • Provide leadership in the management of the University’s relationship with the master developer of Schuylkill Yards, oversee the conveyance of properties and ground lease negotiations, participate in master planning activities, and assume responsibility for all other matters pertaining to the transfer and development of real estate for the Schuylkill Yards project, in accordance with the terms of the master developer agreement.
  • Perform professional review of facilities designs, renovations and new construction scopes in terms of life cycle operations, costing and maintenance requirements.
  • Oversee planning, construction and repair projects, disaster preparedness and emergency management, code compliance, safety and environmental issues, and personnel management.
  • Handle union and labor matters, including communications and negotiations, as needed.
  • Ensure the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of REF services, including transportation services, custodial, maintenance, mechanical services and systems, electrical systems, plant and system operations, elevators, waste management, event support and set-ups, hazardous materials management, equipment, heating and cooling, engineering, construction, renovation, utility supply, energy conservation, and the beautification and maintenance of the campus landscape.
  • Provide reliable, cost-effective, environmentally sustainable utility services to the University; direct the engineering group and maintain an up-to-date Utility Master Plan.
  • Present capital project resolutions for approval and provide quarterly project updates to the Buildings & Properties and Finance & Human Resources committees of the Board of Trustees.
  • Chair the Capital Asset Allocation Committee and oversee the shared governance process by which college/school/department space requests and renovation projects are assessed, approved and funded.
  • Serve as representative to constituencies at Drexel’s University City, Center City, and Queen Lane campuses and represent the department in a collegial, responsive, flexible, customer-friendly and professional manner. Ensure timely and thorough responses to the needs of the University community and prioritize finite resources appropriately.
  • Regularly review activities to measure performance against goals. Ensure the effective and efficient use of all assigned physical, human and capital resources, while taking action to correct unfavorable trends.
  • Serve as a guide, coach and mentor to direct reports and staff. Create and sustain an environment that fosters teamwork, excellence, cooperation, respect and diversity. Organize, train, evaluate and inspire the REF team.
  • Required Qualifications

    • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in Engineering, Business Administration, Architecture, or a related field is required.
    • Minimum of 15 years of real estate and/or facilities related experience in a higher education, health care or related corporate facilities environment, with at least five of those years serving as a director.
    • Ability to negotiate and foster leases, partnerships, and joint ventures with real estate developers and other outside parties, to help facilitate real estate development projects that advance strategic University goals and initiatives.
    • Extensive experience managing a complex facilities operation. Knowledge of facility construction, applicable building codes, mechanical and electrical systems and their maintenance and operation and their related renewal costs. Proven mechanical and engineering expertise a plus.
    • High level of knowledge of the regulatory environment, including construction permitting requirements, workplace safety requirements and environmental regulations as needed.
    • Extensive experience in managing a unionized workforce and multiple, large, functional areas through intermediate managers and supervisors.  Demonstrated knowledge of custodial methods, labor relations and grievance resolution.
    • Experience in budget preparation and fiscal management.
    • Interest in working within an organization with high standards of performance.

    Preferred Qualifications

    • A Master's degree in Engineering, Business Administration, Architecture, or a related field is preferred. Professional Engineer designation is preferred.


    • Experience with evidence-based design to assure University strategic goals are being met qualitatively and quantitatively.
    • Ability to work with academic leadership, faculty and staff regarding critical programming in new and existing facilities that supports the academic and research programs of the University.


    • LEADERSHIP – A polished, diplomatic and flexible management style that is hands on, fair and sets high expectations. Experience in guiding organizational culture change and managing both up and down organizational hierarchy.  A self-starter with a sense of urgency, a strong work ethic and the ability to prioritize and adapt to changing circumstances in an entrepreneurial environment.
    • COMMUNICATION – Ability to demonstrate technical competencies in areas of responsibility and the ability to analyze data and draw logical conclusions and recommendations. A proven collaborator with the ability to communicate clearly and succinctly, both in writing and orally, in one-on-one as well as small and large group settings
    • INTERPERSONAL – Problem solving, presentation and analytical skills along with sound judgement and the ability to be an advocate for the best interest of the departments within the organization. A high level of energy, self-confidence, a positive ‘can-do’ attitude and the ability to function in a fast-paced and high-expectation environment. Unimpeachable integrity, fairness and trustworthiness.

    Physical Demands

    • Typically sitting at a desk/table


    University City

    Additional Information

    This position is classified as exempt with a salary grade of S. For more information regarding Drexel’s Professional Staff salary structure,

    Special Instructions to the Applicant

    Please make sure you upload your CV/resume and cover letter when submitting your application.

    Review of applicants will begin when a diverse and suitable candidate pool is identified.

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