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Vice President for Strategic Communications

Hartwick College
New York, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Posted date
Aug 23, 2021

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Position Type
Executive, Chancellors & Presidents, Other Executive
Employment Level
Salary Band
Commensurate with Experience
Employment Type
Full Time
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Academic Career & Executive Search is pleased to assist Hartwick College in their search for Vice President for Strategic Communications (VPSC).

For best consideration, please apply be October 7, 2021.

Reporting to the President and serving as a key member of the College’s Senior Leadership Team, the newly created position of Vice President for Strategic Communications (VPSC) is responsible for the development, implementation, evaluation and continuous improvement of a strategic communications and marketing program that advances the College’s success in achieving its strategic goals. 

This is an exciting time to join Hartwick College serving in this new role as the College moves to highlight their strategic focus and goals and enhance communications and messaging. The VPSC leads the development and implementation of the College’s brand vision, positioning strategy, and public relations campaigns to attract and retain the best students and employees, motivate alumni and donors, and raise Hartwick’s reputation in the marketplace. The Vice President for Strategic Communications represents and promotes the College, increasing its visibility and supporting its mission, vision, and goals through the development and leadership of an intentional program of strategic communications. 

The VPSC is also responsible for the development, integration, and implementation of public relations and marketing activities that communicate about and advance the strategic direction and positioning of the College and its leadership. This individual is the College’s official spokesperson, advisor to the President on high-profile issues, and primary contact with major media.

The successful candidate brings strong and proven strategic leadership skills. Highly developed writing and communication skills are an essential tool in communicating with multiple constituent groups. The VPSC will be a thoughtful and active leader and collaborator willing to roll up their sleeves to accomplish goals. Hartwick College is open to both academic and non-academic experience and backgrounds. 

Working actively and collaboratively with the other members of the Senior Leadership Team, s/he will advise on, influence and collaboratively and actively guide the creation of effective advancement and enrollment communications. The VPSC will be accessible to serve as an advisor on communication strategy with other members of the community as well. The VPSC develops and oversees a comprehensive communications calendar for the College.

The Vice President manages a staff of eight to nine communications professionals who have direct responsibility for publications, periodicals, media relations, social media, digital communications, visual communications, crisis communications, and community relations.


Strategy and Implementation

  • Develop, implement and evaluate an integrated strategic communications plan to advance Hartwick College and its brand identity. Broaden awareness of Hartwick’s FlightPath approach to education and its distinct programs and priorities. Increase visibility of FlightPath across key audiences, including the media and other influencers.
  • Manage the College’s relationship with its brand agency and affiliated partners. Assure accountability for planning and deliverables that are provided on time and on budget.
  • Engage proactively and collaboratively with the other members of the Senior Leadership Team and other leadership staff across campus.       Advise on, influence and collaboratively guide the creation of effective advancement and enrollment communications.
  • Develop integrated communication plans that reflect institutional priorities and oversee the creation of messaging appropriate to each impacted community.
  • Identify, evaluate, and advise on current challenges and emerging issues faced by the College and/or across higher education.
  • Work with the President and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to recognize internal and external communications opportunities and solutions. Define and execute effective strategies.
  • Serve as communications counsel to the President and as a resource to the SLT.
  • Support and strengthen the College’s relationships in the community through effective communication strategy and implementation.
  • Anticipate communication needs each academic year. Lead delivery on same.
  • Serve as senior staff support of the Board of Trustee’s Image & Reputation Committee.

Communications Operations 

  • Evaluate, prioritize, and realize both earned and paid media opportunities.
  • Actively engage, cultivate, and manage press relationships.
  • Serve as primary spokesperson and lead point person on media outreach and interactions that promote and/or impact the College.
  • Position and promote College initiatives, programs, events, and personnel in the media and through other outreach efforts.
  • Evaluate and recommend advertising opportunities; oversee implementation.
  • Lead crisis communications and prepare associated plans and outreach. Develop and update crisis management templates and communication strategies.
  • Prepare talking points, speeches, presentations, and other supporting material as requested by the President.
  • Develop and promote Hartwick senior leadership and faculty as experts and thought leaders.
  • Conduct op-ed and social media workshops for members of the Hartwick community.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of communications strategies and tactics in serving the College’s strategic goals.

Marketing Operations

  • Be proactive.
  • Partner with vice presidential colleagues and the College’s outsourced marketing partner in developing strategies and plans for reaching enrollment and fundraising goals, including digital marketing strategies.
  • Employ market research to test ideas and initiatives; engage external partners as appropriate.
  • Oversee the integration of print and digital outreach to maximize results.
  • Manage internal and external communications initiatives.
  • Lead, guide and support staff in developing major marketing materials, both in print and online. Including The Wick magazine, the President’s Report, the annual report, FlightPath newsletters, the College website, student recruitment, key fundraising initiatives and digital media.
  • Contribute written materials to support the implementation of communications plans.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of marketing operations in serving the College’s strategic goals.

Management & Team Development

  • Oversee a professional staff responsible for print, web-based, digital and social media, and earned and paid media placements.
  • Develop the team’s ability to advance and promote Hartwick’s FlightPath initiative and partner with enrollment, fundraising, alumni relations, and on-campus offices in marketing associated initiatives.
  • Support the team’s ability to balance concurrent demands as they focus on new student recruitment through the lens of FlightPath, donor relations as the College moves into a comprehensive campaign in support of FlightPath, active student retention, alumni engagement, innovation and business partnerships.
  • Oversee the division’s day-to-day activities, including budgeting and planning.
  • Establish and monitor staff performance and development goals, set objectives, establish priorities, and conduct annual performance appraisals. Ensure Hartwick's communications and marketing efforts are aligned with the College's strategic goals and evaluate the effectiveness of staff in serving these goals.


  • Bachelor's degree in communications, journalism, or a related field
  • Minimum 10 years’ experience as a senior manager in strategic communications and marketing from planning through execution and evaluation.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and motivate colleagues and prioritize projects in a high volume, complex, dynamic environment.
  • Active knowledge of current trends and best practices of communications.
  • Experience and leadership in managing comprehensive strategic communications, media relations, and marketing program to advance an organization's mission and goals.
  • Innovative thinker, with a track record for translating strategy into action.
  • Experience creating a wide range of communications materials to reach a variety of audiences, including a proven track record in employing digital media.
  • Experience in media relations that includes proactively building relationships with top tier reporters and editors and positioning the College with the media to achieve high-impact placements.
  • Writing and editing experience focused on a variety of external audiences using various print and online communications media.
  • Experience building and managing brand through a variety of platforms.
  • Demonstrated management style that includes delegating authority, mentoring staff, setting high expectations, and holding colleagues accountable.
  • Demonstrated expertise in integrated communications and public relations.
  • Demonstrated experience in evaluation and using data and metrics to drive and improve decision-making.
  • Excellent organizational and administrative skills, interpersonal skills, oral, written, and presentation skills as well as an engaging and persuasive communicator.
  • Ability to condense complex messages into consistent, concise, and easy to understand messaging supported by compelling design.
  • Creative in applying new media technologies to reach objectives.
  • Excellent judgment and creative problem solving skills, including negotiation and conflict resolution.
  • Demonstrated commitment to collaboration and cooperation.
  • Roll-up-your-sleeves, lead by example approach to inspiring the work of others.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Advanced degree
  • Leadership level experience in higher education
  • Active knowledge of current trends and best practices of communications in higher education.

About Hartwick College 

Hartwick College is a non-denominational, private, four-year liberal arts and sciences college in Oneonta, New York offering 35 majors leading to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. In addition, it offers over 30 minors, pre-professional programs in law, medicine, engineering and allied health professions; and five cooperative programs in engineering, law, business, and physical and occupational therapy.   

Hartwick College was featured by journalist and scientific writer Malcolm Gladwell in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants as a liberal arts college that offers the same academic rigor and quality of education with similar career outcomes of an ivy league university or elite liberal arts college in the United States, without the competitiveness or admission criteria of these top colleges and universities.  

Hartwick has been recognized year after year in numerous reviews including for its committed implementation of High-Impact Educational Practices, earning its title as one of the nation’s Colleges of Distinction for 2019. Hartwick has proven itself to be at the forefront of American higher education with a modern, student-centered approach to teaching. The College also earned distinction for its Nursing, Business and Career Development programs. Hartwick is one of 225 colleges chosen for the “Best in the Northeast” by the Princeton Review. The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranked Hartwick 380 this year of 968 schools covered as well as the #138 private, liberal arts school ranked overall. The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Guide, U.S. News & World Report (2019) ranks Hartwick among the 229 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” in the country.  

Living in the Area

Situated in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains’, Oneonta is a scenic college town boasting a lower cost of living, lower unemployment rates, lower crime rate and higher educational levels than the national average. With median home values of $141K and monthly rents of $835, the area offers an affordable lifestyle in a picturesque environment with close access to New York City. The idyllic environment is an exceptional area for the outdoor enthusiast, raise a family, or simply enjoy a more laid-back lifestyle void of rush hour traffic.  A 2020 study rated the Oneonta community among the top 10 small communities in the US for arts vibrancy:

The College is located just 3.5 hours north of New York City, 4 hours west of Boston, MA, and 4.5 hours north of Philadelphia. The campus sits on a hilltop that spans 425 picturesque acres and overlooks the Catskill Mountains. 

Conveniently located just off Rt. 88 in Oneonta, Hartwick is also just 59 miles from Binghamton, NY, 82 miles to Albany, NY, and 60 miles from Utica, NY. Cooperstown, NY, known for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Glimmerglass Opera is just right down the road.   

To Apply  

For best consideration, please apply be October 7, 2021.

You may apply directly at:

Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. Materials should include a cover letter and CV.  

Inquiries and nominations are treated confidentially and can be sent to Jennifer Muller, Managing Partner with Academic Career & Executive Search:  

Candidates advanced in the process will be required to provide a Diversity Statement.  

Information regarding Hartwick College’s Diversity Statement is located at:

Hartwick College is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, veteran, or marital status. We welcome applications from the community, alumni, and the general public.  

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