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Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications

Lewis & Clark College
Oregon, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Start date
Jun 30, 2021

View more

Position Type
Administrative, Business & Administrative Affairs, Public Relations & Marketing (Campus), Executive, Other Executive
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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Lewis & Clark College seeks an Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications
Click here to view position profile:
Location: Portland, OR 

The Position:
A member of Lewis & Clark’s senior leadership team, the associate vice president of public affairs and communications (AVP) provides vision and leadership for the institution's external and internal communication initiatives as they are expressed in a wide variety of channels, including public and media relations; issues and crisis management; executive communications; the web; social media; video; and digital and print marketing. The AVP leads Lewis & Clark's efforts to create a mission-centered image, brand, and identity. The AVP develops key institutional messages and positioning strategies, from inception to expression, and produces excellent copy when required. To read more about the Office of Public Affairs and Communications (PubCom) click here

The AVP reports to the chief of staff and serves as a valued member of the president's executive council, which is a cabinet-level institutional body that meets regularly to advise the president and to develop institution-wide strategy, initiatives, policies, and messages. This position plays an integral role at the institutional level and is relied on for strategic thinking and communications strategy on both a routine, day-to-day basis and when crises arise. The AVP oversees a marketing team that guides communications strategy for departments and offices at all three schools, supports the critical recruiting and admissions work of the undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences, and plays an important and coordinating role in the communications of the Law School and the Graduate School of Education and Counseling. 

The AVP inspires and guides a creative team while being responsible for the budget, staffing, and infrastructure of a proactive and responsive communications office. As new initiatives are developed and launched, the AVP will play a crucial, collaborative role ensuring that communications are leveraged in strategic ways that further the goals of the college. In this way, the AVP will ultimately shape core aspects of how Lewis & Clark achieves its mission. The AVP should be forward-thinking, open to change, analytical, and strategic. 

Including the AVP, 13 people work on the PubCom team. Four of them report directly to the AVP:

  • Director of Public Relations
  • Director of Marketing and Communications
  • Senior Communications Officer and Editor, The Chronicle (alumni magazine)
  • Office Administrator 

The remaining employees report directly or indirectly to the Director of Marketing and Communications:

  • Associate Director of Marketing
    • Marketing Coordinator
    • Digital Media Manager
  • Art Director
  • Director of New Media
    • Communications Specialist
  • Director of Multimedia and Internal Communications
  • Project Manager for Marketing and Publications 

The team is experienced, dedicated, collaborative, and has had very little turnover in the past six years. The PubCom team consistently scores extremely high on HR’s annual employee satisfaction survey. 

Duties and Responsibilities:

Provide vision and leadership for the institution’s strategic communication and marketing initiatives in a wide variety of communication channels.

  • Create and implement strategic integrated marketing initiatives to support Lewis & Clark’s student recruitment, development, and image-building goals.
  • Lead the process to develop and disseminate key institutional messages through a variety of channels, including new media, public and media relations, and digital and print materials.
  • Conceptualize and implement communication plans attending to a wide range of policies and issues.
  • In close collaboration with senior leadership, develop messages and communications strategies to advance the College’s vision, priorities, and activities to both internal and external audiences. 

Provide counsel and oversee development of key institutional messages and positioning strategies.

  • Provide counsel to executive officers, including the president, regarding public relations, issues management, marketing, and communications.
  • Bring communications expertise and advice to the table during regular and emergency meetings of the president’s executive council.
  • Provide strategic advice and communications strategy and write time-sensitive and effective messages to the campus community, as a member of the team that manages crises and emergent situations.
  • Prepares executive-level communications, such as key speeches, letters, and/or reports, or directs the work of others.
  • Collaborate with senior administration, faculty, and staff to advance the college's communication priorities.
  • Attend meetings of the board of trustees and provide communications assistance and advice related to Board priorities, such as the effective communication of the institution’s strategic goals, challenges, and opportunities.
  • Take a hands-on role when required by acting as the institutional spokesperson or producing copy to achieve communications goals.
  • Develop constructive and cooperative working relationships with key stakeholders. 

Provide leadership and strategic direction for the public affairs and communications department, with a focus on the college’s culture, mission, and vision.

  • Select, train, supervise, evaluate, and coach a highly experienced creative team of twelve (four direct reports).
  • Develop specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish department objectives.
  • Encourage and build mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among employees.
  • Effectively build and work with diverse teams. 

Qualifications and Qualities:
The ideal candidate for the associate vice president for public affairs and communications will be a seasoned professional who embraces a team environment and works collaboratively and supportively with a dedicated and capable office. The candidate will also be innovative, resourceful, and a proven leader. Below is a list of qualifications and qualities:

  • At least five years, with ten years of experience preferable, of progressively responsible and successful experience in strategic communications, public relations, marketing/branding, or related fields; preferably with experience in higher education or education more broadly.
  • Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred.
  • Outstanding communication skills, including editing, writing, and public speaking.
  • Proven experience in crisis communications and issues management, including an expert understanding of both strategic and tactical approaches, and the roles of various communications channels in a crisis environment.
  • Experience synthesizing sometimes conflicting information from a range of executive leaders into a coherent, on-brand institutional response.
  • Excellent supervisory and leadership skills, with particular experience in motivating and supporting creative staff. Experience with identifying talent, building teams, and recommending appropriate staffing models to support overall goals and objectives.
  • Proven understanding of the dynamic worlds of digital and social media with the ability to drive content, manage creative talent in content creation, and grow awareness in these channels.
  • Demonstrated use of predictive measurements to make data-informed decisions and determine impact of media on awareness, perceptions, and engagement.
  • Highly effective communicator with the capacity to work with a wide range of professional colleagues and diverse stakeholder groups.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • A sense of urgency, humor, and dedication with the ability to position communication discussions at both the strategic and practical levels.
  • Ability to work flexible hours and adjust work schedule according to the needs of the college. 

About the Institution:
Lewis & Clark College is a private institution with a public conscience and a residential campus with global reach. It’s a place where ideas are explored and problems are solved through interdisciplinary and global perspectives; where new knowledge is generated through collaborative faculty-student research and inquiry. The institution offers an education built from the time-tested elements of careful study, original research, and spirited debate. Lewis & Clark serves 3,200 students in three schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Education and Counseling, and the Law School. With a strong foundation in international programs, outstanding science programs, a top-ranked environmental law program, world-class undergraduate and graduate teaching, and a distinguished faculty, the institution is at a moment of great opportunity. Lewis & Clark is committed to learning, innovation, and principled action on matters related to sustainability. The college’s research and actions extend beyond the campus into the wider world and are built on the best available scholarship and practices, recognizing the importance and interrelatedness of ecology, economy, and equity. 

Established in 1867, Lewis & Clark is one of only a few liberal arts institutions with top-ranked, high-quality professional programs located in a major city. Its academic units have received top-tier rankings according to U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s best liberal arts colleges and law schools. 

The institution’s most recent strategic plan can be accessed using this link Strategic Plan, Exploring for the Global Good. 

To Apply:
Confidential review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled; interested parties are encouraged to apply before or by August 8th

Please submit a PDF version of your resume, letter of interest, and 1-page diversity statement upon application. The diversity statement should outline your experiences with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Those experiences can include, but are not limited to, the following: lived experience as a member of an underrepresented group; experience living and meaningfully interacting with individuals with a variety of identities; or professional development or other training in diversity, equity, and inclusion. If your experiences are different from those listed and you have a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, please explain how you will manifest that commitment in this position. 

To apply online, go to: All applications and nominations will be held in confidence. 

For more information or to offer recommendations:
Stephanie Rivas-Fowler
Senior Consultant
Summit Search Solutions, Inc.
Phone: 530-677-9945 

Tammarah Townes
Senior Consultant
Summit Search Solutions, Inc.
Phone: 302-388-9480 

The College explicitly acknowledges and affirms its conviction that diversity with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, socio-economic background, religious orientation or spirituality, physical or sensory disability, gender, and sexual orientation on the Lewis & Clark campus provides an educational benefit for all students that can be realized only if students and education professionals from diverse backgrounds are present in significant numbers within our learning community. In creating and sustaining such a community, we engage, to the extent possible, in practices that will ensure a high degree of diversity on our campus, simultaneously meeting the highest standards of academic excellence of which we are capable.

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