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Vice President for University Communications

University of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, United States
Salary Not specified
Posted Date
Feb 3, 2023

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Position Type
Executive, Other Executive
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

Vice President for University Communications

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn's distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning. As an employer Penn has been ranked nationally on many occasions with the most recent award from Forbes who named Penn one of America's Best Employers By State in 2021.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

COVID-19 vaccination is a requirement for all positions at the University of Pennsylvania. New hires are expected to be fully vaccinated before beginning work at the University. For more information about Penn's vaccine requirements, visit the Penn COVID-19 Response website for the latest information.

Posted Job Title
Vice President for University Communications

Job Profile Title
Vice President

Job Description Summary
The Vice President will be expected to acquire a comprehensive understanding of Penn's communications needs and shape and implement appropriate strategies to ensure that they are met. Given the decentralized nature of the institution, the Vice President will need to become broadly informed regarding the diverse needs of Penn's community members. The Vice President will develop and implement an overarching communications strategy that is aligned with the University's objectives and ensure that it is integrated and consistently articulated to all of the organization's stakeholders, including leadership, students, employees, media, industry leaders, community leaders and the general public.

Job Description

The position responsibilities are as follows:
  • Serve as chief communications strategist to advance Penn's standing in the world.
  • Lead and manage the staff of University Communications to best serve the needs of Penn's senior leadership. Coordinate and develop relationships across the wide-ranging school and center-based communications offices, functions, and personnel.
  • Serve as the University's principal spokesperson.
  • Provide communications counsel to University leadership, as well as develop and maintain relationships across University schools, departments, and strategic initiatives to ensure all collective efforts are realized and maximized.
  • Create and implement an ongoing reputational analysis program and establish the means for measuring the overall success of communications initiatives.
  • Promote widespread recognition of the University's contributions to the community, country, and world. Develop proactive initiatives that are designed to advance and elevate the University's standing, prestige, and reputation.
  • Lead and coordinate Penn's strategic communication response to emerging issues and crises, drawing upon the expertise of the Penn community to help inform decision-making when appropriate.
  • Build fruitful and lasting relationships with key strategic audiences, as well as local, regional, national, and international media outlets.
  • Have oversight responsibility for WXPN, Penn's NPR radio station.
  • Maintain awareness of best-in-class communications strategies; implement best practices aligned with the university's strategic goals and initiatives. Coordinate and elevate the use and application of digital and social media communications.
  • Proactively lead and coordinate Penn's domestic and global media relations efforts; strategically manage Penn's reputation on a global scale to maximize impact, ensuring public perceptions are accurate, consistent, and positive.
  • Monitor emerging communications technologies and assess their importance to Penn's interest. In a timely fashion, bring relevant trends to the attention of other members of senior management, recommending strategies to adopt or adapt to them; embrace aggressively the use of new media.
  • Routinely research, analyze, and provide counsel on communications initiatives and practices at peer institutions.


The Vice President will have 10+ years of progressively increasing experience planning and executing communications strategies. The ideal candidate must have a track record of representing complex, large-scale organizations and translating business results for key audiences. The successful candidate will be a high-energy, strategic thinker with exceptional interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills, the ability to foster collaborative decision-making, and strong relationship building skills. This is a position that will operate at the highest levels of the University, and therefore requires the requisite business and communications skills to be credible with university leadership. Executive presence to effectively partner with university leadership is critical. Desired qualifications of the Vice President include:

  • Demonstrated success in a senior-level communications role of comparable complexity in academia, government, the non-profit sector, or the private sector.
  • A demonstrated capacity to envision, develop, and implement a successful and comprehensive marketing and communications program across an organization with multiple constituencies and wide variety of audiences, ideally in higher education.
  • Broad experience in all areas of communications, including strategy development, issue/crisis management, and domestic and global media relations.
  • A thorough understanding of, and specific experience in, developing and implementing branding and strategic communications plans in both traditional and new media.
  • Extensive knowledge of higher education issues and trends.
  • A record of recruiting and developing diverse and talented staff through effective leadership and expert mentoring.
  • A deep and abiding appreciation for and understanding of higher education, and the ability to embrace and articulate the values that distinguish the University of Pennsylvania.
  • A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all its forms (i.e., racial, gender, socio- economic, religious, intellectual, disciplinary, and others).
  • Outstanding leadership and managerial skills. This includes experience hiring, developing, and retaining diverse and high performing professional teams and serving as a collaborative leader across peers.
  • Exemplary verbal, writing, and communication skills, as well as the professional presence to serve as the University's primary spokesperson.


Bachelor's degree required. Advanced degree preferred.


The University of Pennsylvania has retained the services of the executive search firm Korn Ferry to conduct this important search. Applicants should submit the following two documents (in two separate PDFs):

An up-to-date and detailed curriculum vitae. A brief (1-2 pages) letter of interest describing why you are interested in the role of Vice President for University Communications, why you would be successful based on your professional and/or lived experience, why now is a good time for you to consider this opportunity, and your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For priority consideration, please submit all application materials by March 1, 2023. The two documents, as well as any inquires, should be sent directly to Peter McDermott at

To view the posting on the Korn Ferry website:

Job Location - City, State
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School
General University Special

Pay Range

Salary offers are made based on the candidate's qualifications, experience, skills, and education as they directly relate to the requirements of the position, as well as internal and market factors and grade profile.

Affirmative Action Statement
Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements
Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

University Benefits
  • Health, Life, and Flexible Spending Accounts: Penn offers comprehensive medical, prescription, behavioral health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits to protect you and your family's health and welfare. You can also use flexible spending accounts to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
  • Tuition: Take advantage of Penn's exceptional tuition benefits. You, your spouse, and your dependent children can get tuition assistance here at Penn. Your dependent children are also eligible for tuition assistance at other institutions.
  • Retirement: Penn offers generous retirement plans to help you save for your future. Penn's Basic, Matching, and Supplemental retirement plans allow you to save for retirement on a pre-tax or Roth basis. Choose from a wide variety of investment options through TIAA and Vanguard.
  • Time Away from Work: Penn provides you with a substantial amount of time away from work during the course of the year. This allows you to relax, take vacations, attend to personal affairs, recover from illness or injury, spend time with family—whatever your personal needs may be.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: In partnership with Genworth Financial, Penn offers faculty and staff (and your eligible family members) long-term care insurance to help you cover some of the costs of long-term care services received at home, in the community or in a nursing facility. If you apply when you're newly hired, you won't have to provide proof of good health or be subject to underwriting requirements. Eligible family members must always provide proof of good health and are subject to underwriting.
  • Wellness and Work-life Resources: Penn is committed to supporting our faculty and staff as they balance the competing demands of work and personal life. That's why we offer a wide variety of programs and resources to help you care for your health, your family, and your work-life balance.
  • Professional and Personal Development: Penn provides an array of resources to help you advance yourself personally and professionally.
  • University Resources: As a member of the Penn community, you have access to a wide range of University resources as well as cultural and recreational activities. Take advantage of the University's libraries and athletic facilities, or visit our arboretum and art galleries. There's always something going on at Penn, whether it's a new exhibit at the Penn Museum, the latest music or theater presentation at the Annenberg Center, or the Penn Relays at Franklin Field to name just a few examples. As a member of the Penn community, you're right in the middle of the excitement—and you and your family can enjoy many of these activities for free.
  • Discounts and Special Services: From arts and entertainment to transportation and mortgages, you'll find great deals for University faculty and staff. Not only do Penn arts and cultural centers and museums offer free and discounted admission and memberships to faculty and staff. You can also enjoy substantial savings on other goods and services such as new cars from Ford and General Motors, cellular phone service plans, movie tickets, and admission to theme parks.
  • Flexible Work Hours: Flexible work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal commitments. These approaches involve use of non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures.
  • Penn Home Ownership Services: Penn offers a forgivable loan for eligible employees interested in buying a home or currently residing in West Philadelphia, which can be used for closing costs or home improvements.
  • Adoption Assistance: Penn will reimburse eligible employees on qualified expenses in connection with the legal adoption of an eligible child, such as travel or court fees, for up to two adoptions in your household.

To learn more, please visit:

To apply, visit


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