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Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Emerson College
Boston, Massachusetts
Date posted
Jan 12, 2024

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Position Type
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

Emerson College invites applications and nominations for the position of Vice President for Marketing and Communications.

Reporting to Emerson's new President, Dr. Jay M. Bernhardt, the Vice President is responsible for telling Emerson's unique story to the world, strategically building the college's global brand, and coordinating the development of impactful and timely information for the Emerson community and external constituents and partners.

Founded in 1880 and spanning three distinct global campuses in Boston, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands, Emerson is steeped in the values of equity, access, and social justice. It serves over 4,100 undergraduate and 1,500 graduate students. The college sustains strong partnerships with institutions across the world, including the Paris College of Art, which adds to the richness of the Emerson experience. Emerson also has its Emerson Prison Initiative (EPI), which works to democratize access to college education.

Emerson educates future leaders in the arts and communication through deep grounding in the liberal arts and a commitment to inter-disciplinarity; inspires generations of students to think boldly and creatively; and enables all students, faculty, staff, and alumni to contribute powerfully to the cultural, social, political, and civic landscape.

Reporting to the President, the Vice President for Marketing and Communications serves as a member of the College’s leadership team, interacts with the Board of Trustees and Emerson alums, and leads nearly 30 staff.  The portfolio comprises media relations, marketing and brand promotion, college news and publications, social media, the official college websites, crisis communications, and support for public relations. This work is conducted in close partnership with other Vice Presidents, including of Institutional Advancement, Enrollment Management, Government and Community Relations. They will work closely with the president’s chief of staff on internal communications.

The VP will develop, execute, measure, and maintain a comprehensive communications and marketing strategy for the Emerson brand and the College’s three campuses in support of institutional priorities, including core values, inclusive excellence, brand awareness, enrollment goals, fundraising targets, and issues management.  The Vice President will lead a branding and market positioning study to support a brand refresh and campaign in 2024.

Opportunities and priorities:

  • Create an integrated, strategically focused, and appropriately resourced marketing and communications function serving the Emerson College enterprise
  • Elevate the work of marketing and communications groups housed in the College’s academic divisions and administrative units
  • Reduce silos, increase horizontal collaboration, foster shared vision and best practices, and model strategic ways of advancing excellence in marketing and communications
  • Evolve the digital, data, and analytics operations of marketing and communications for the College that draw on industry best practices and embrace emerging tools and approaches
  • Pursue alignment and innovation around reputation, brand, messaging, and visual identity standards, including leading a College-wide brand refresh campaign

In all they do at Emerson, the Vice President will center its mission, vision, and goals, and make leadership decisions that are inclusive, equitable, and mission-oriented.


The Vice President for Marketing and Communications must be a strategic, collaborative, and inclusive leader who provides wise counsel, visionary direction, and creative solutions. They will be drawn to the College’s mission and values and will understand and embrace its commitment to equity, access, and social justice.

The ideal candidate will bring experience across and/or understanding of institutional brand management, digital marketing, social media communications, recruitment marketing, fundraising communications, executive communications, issues/crisis management, and public relations. They will be exceptional at building collaborative relationships across the institution and have a sophisticated understanding of both Emerson’s various internal and external constituents and the issues facing higher education today. The Vice President will be a resourceful, persistent, and creative manager of change.

In addition, Emerson seeks candidates with the following qualifications:

  • A demonstrated record of advancing equity, access, and social justice in organizations they have led or been part of and a record of infusing these values into the work of marketing and/or communications programs they have led or been part of
  • Significant and progressively responsible experience in strategic communications or external affairs
  • Proven experience managing brand research and campaigns, ideally within a higher-education context
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills that demonstrate versatility, speed, and accuracy; the ability identify, create, and articulate messages clearly, compellingly, and quickly; and the capability to condense complex messages into consistent, concise, and easy to understand communications for different audiences as appropriate
  • High level of discretion, judgment, and professionalism
  • Ability to respond to a crisis with calm, empathy, and intelligence
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, with the ability to collaborate, build consensus, and effectively engage with a variety of constituents including senior leadership, faculty, administrators, students, alumni, parents, community members, and government officials
  • Demonstrated success managing teams, multiple projects, and competing priorities
  • Proven track record of effectively and equitably managing staff including in developing and empowering talent, providing direction and execution, and inspiring an inclusive team-oriented, can-do attitude
  • Demonstrated ability to create, implement, and evaluate successful, large-scale public relations campaigns, lead integrated communications, and sustain effective media relations
  • Experience establishing metrics to measure effectiveness of communications efforts and proven ability to interpret analytics and data to build or adapt communications strategies
  • The ability to discern and enhance impactful stories and compelling visuals
  • Fiscal acumen and experience in budget development and oversight
  • Robust understanding of key issues in higher education
  • Keen interest in local, national, and world news coverage of major events and issues; comprehensive understanding of print, digital, and social news cycles
  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university

Emerson invites candidates who may bring measurable expertise in some but not all of the functional areas of the portfolio and will be eager to learn more about how the candidate would approach leading the full portfolio.

A full version of the position description can be found here.

To Apply

Emerson College has retained Opus Partners ( to support this recruitment. Craig Smith, Partner, and Abigail Maynard, Senior Associate are leading the search. Inquiries, applications, and nominations should be sent to The search process will unfold with the greatest possible attention to candidate confidentiality. Required application materials include a resume and cover letter. The cover letter should reflect how qualifications and experience match those described in this leadership profile. Emerson also invites candidates to include examples of their marketing and/or communications case histories or other work products as hyperlinks in their cover letters or as additional attachments (three attachments maximum).

Emerson College believes diversity enriches every experience by providing the opportunity to learn from individuals who may have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Engagement with diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of the College enhances the personal and intellectual growth of all members of our campus community. Emerson is committed to strengthening communities, including our workplace, by fostering the development of the intercultural competencies necessary for meaningful citizenship in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society. Emerson College embraces and encourages differences in age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make each of us unique.

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