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Vice Chancellor for University Relations


ANNUAL (12 months)
This position offers a comprehensive benefits package, including generous paid time off, competitively priced insurance plans, tax-advantaged savings accounts, and participation in the nationally recognized Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) pension fund. Learn more at .

Job Summary:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) - among the nation's most renowned and expansive public research universities - seeks a strategic, collaborative, and innovative executive to serve as the next Vice Chancellor for University Relations (VCUR).

The VCUR is charged with creating the vision for and leading the implementation of a proactive, innovative, and comprehensive government and community relations strategy that cultivates and enhances UW-Madison's relationships at the federal, state, local, and tribal government levels; with the broader community; and with business and industry to advance its mission and goals. To this end, the VCUR provides strategic leadership and oversight of six functions: state relations/state-wide outreach, community relations, congressional affairs and federal agency engagement, tribal relations, industry engagement, and campus and visitor relations; about 25 staff; and a current operating program and personnel budget of approximately $5.4 million.

The VCUR reports directly to the Chancellor and serves as senior advisor to the Chancellor pertaining to all central campus government and community relations activities. The VCUR also serves as a critical member of the Chancellor's executive committee and works closely with their senior leadership team to set priorities and devise university relations strategies in support of university-wide objectives. A key partner to this position with whom it works closely is the Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications, who is charged with creating the vision for and leading the implementation of UW-Madison's overall marketing, communications, and branding strategy. The VCUR also collaborates closely with schools, colleges, divisions, and units throughout campus, along with the university's affiliated organizations, leveraging experts to build a successful university relations strategy. The VCUR also serves as a key liaison with Universities of Wisconsin staff in support of shared goals and priorities.

The VCUR will be expected to work in conjunction with the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) to provide leadership in efforts to promote entrepreneurship, technology transfer, and university-private sector research partnerships across campus. A key question that the new VCUR will help answer, together with the VCR and the Chancellor, is the appropriate organizational structure to support business and industry engagement.

As a senior leader, the VCUR will be expected to demonstrate and advance the highest level of ethical conduct and professionalism in their performance.


1. Conceive of and implement an overarching university relations strategy that accounts for current contextual dynamics - in Wisconsin and nation-wide - leading to a comprehensive approach that extends across all levels of government as well as community, business, and industry in support of the university's goals and objectives.

2. Act as senior counselor to the Chancellor and other university leaders on all university relations matters, as well as broader strategic and operations issues affecting the university. Apprise the Chancellor and other university leaders of pertinent legislative issues, external factors, and policy proposals and actions that could impact the university. A core dimension of this role is the proactive development of strategies to respond to emerging issues and challenges, as well as thoughtful and informed advance planning for potential future opportunities and challenges.

3. Establish and maintain constructive relationships with elected and appointed officials at the federal, state, local, and tribal level, investing time and energy in prioritized networking activity, relationship-building, and developing and executing strategy.

4. Ensure clear communication and effective collaboration with the university's affiliated organizations and key strategic partners on public issues: the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA), the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), UW Health, the University Research Park (URP), and the Universities of Wisconsin.

5. Provide campus-wide leadership to develop, and play a key role in implementing, a set of thoughtful strategies to assure effective communication between the university, the Governor's office, and the leaders and members of both the state Senate and Assembly, especially around budget and policy issues, while also working closely with the Universities of Wisconsin.

6. Working in conjunction with the Chancellor, Provost, and Vice Chancellor for Research, evaluate current efforts to build and sustain engagement with industry and broader coalitions, including workforce and economic development, research partnership, and resources for UW, with a focus on determining the most appropriate organizational structure for developing and supporting mutually beneficial relationships.

7. Working in collaboration with VCUR team members, the Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications and the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, develop and implement a proactive plan to engage community, business, educational, non-profit, governmental, and other partners and stakeholders across the state in activities and issues important to the university.

8. Ensure the preparation of communications to and for key stakeholders, including the Chancellor, regarding pertinent issues on legislative changes and oversee the development of materials in support of the university relations agenda, such as talking points, legislative summaries, factsheets, testimony, reports, and letters.

9. In partnership with the Vice Chancellor for Research, effectively leverage the university's D.C. office to develop and implement plans to advocate for federal research funding and other federal legislative priorities related to higher education and UW-Madison, with members of Wisconsin's Congressional delegation, other key congressional players, and federal agencies. In addition, work with higher education support organizations (e.g., AAU, APLU, Big 10 Academic Alliance, etc.) to influence federal legislation, rules, and guidelines relevant to higher education.

10. Ensure the university is a trusted partner and contributor to the broader Madison community by creating connections with community organizations, serving the needs of Madison residents through programs offered at the South Madison Partnership and by connecting them to other campus resources.

11. Oversee the Campus and Visitor Relations unit, UW-Madison's official resource for campus and community information, to ensure a high level of service to prospective students and parents, youth and adult groups seeking campus tours, and those seeking information and referrals at the university's Campus and Community Information Desks, via phone, online chat, or email.

12. Ensure that the Office of the Vice Chancellor for University Relations is a collaborative, responsive partner that can address both opportunities and concerns from diverse stakeholders, and that staff are sought out as respected thought leaders. Foster excellence with respect to collaboration, partnership, and problem solving.

13. Promote a professional workplace culture of mutual respect and collegiality for all members of the institution. Continually assess staff strengths; recruit and retain a high-quality, diverse team.

14. Inspire and motivate staff through transparency and direction, placing staff members' work within the context of the university's strategic priorities and goals. Provide professional development opportunities as appropriate and encourage staff to set and reach personal growth targets.

15. Have a leadership style that is open and empowers staff through active communication, delegation, and accountability. Manage expectations and resources to ensure that university relations goals and activities are challenging and realistic.

16. Foster an environment that rewards innovative ideas, creativity, and risk taking; builds confidence; and encourages teamwork and collaboration within the office and across the university. Celebrate achievements and set clear expectations for future success.

Institutional Statement on Diversity:

Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW-Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background - people who as students, faculty, and staff serve Wisconsin and the world.

For more information on diversity and inclusion on campus, please visit: Diversity and Inclusion


Bachelor's Degree


1. Demonstrated senior experience and strong record in developing an innovative vision for and leading the implementation of effective advocacy and issue strategies for an enterprise with multiple constituencies and a wide variety of audiences.

2. Knowledge of - and current and/or previous experience with - complex, multi-stakeholder political operating environments at the local and state levels within Wisconsin, as well as nationally

1. An understanding of - and appreciation for - the operating context of higher education in general, and of University of Wisconsin-Madison (or a similar large public research institution) and its core missions, culture, and values. Candidates without direct higher education experience, but who have the skills and background to learn about higher education are also strongly encouraged to apply.

2. A record of success as an innovative and collaborative leader in a large, complex, mission-driven organization with numerous and distributed stakeholders, shared decision making, and often rapidly shifting priorities.

3. Advanced knowledge of industry best practices and trends for all aspects of advocacy and issues strategy, in areas such as the development and maintenance of relationships, positioning, and messaging across and within community and governmental systems as well as metrics for assessing effectiveness.

4. Experience in institutions that are subject to political and public scrutiny, whether legislative or regulatory.

5. A firm understanding of and commitment to compliance with state and federal lobbying laws, ethics rules and applicable regulations.

6. Experience working with or for business and industry in the development of partnership or other mutually beneficial relationships.

7. Exceptional diplomacy, discretion, strategic acumen, and judgment; strong interpersonal skills; demonstrated ability to ethically form and maintain relationships with government officials and government entities; and an ability to maintain a respectful and appropriate professional demeanor at all times.

8. A collaborative and collegial orientation, with demonstrated skills in engaging diverse stakeholders and building strong professional relationships. Demonstrated experience serving as a resource to others and obtaining their input, thereby able to synthesize many ideas and produce work products that address a variety of goals and objectives.

9. Demonstrated ability to communicate clearly and concisely, and to develop strong working relationships, with people at all levels of the organization and the wider community, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures and across a broad range of perspectives and beliefs.

10. A strong commitment to personal and professional development and the ability to build, lead, mentor, motivate, and retain high-performing, diverse professional teams.

11. Outstanding management, operational, and planning skills, including the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously in a decentralized environment.

12. Experience in effectively managing staff, budgets and resources while setting strategic priorities to obtain additional resources.

Work Type:

Full Time: 100%

Work will primarily be performed in-person at the UW-Madison campus, with in-state and out-of-state travel as required.

Appointment Type, Duration:


Additional Information:

University sponsorship is not available for this position. The selected candidate will be responsible for ensuring their continuous eligibility to work in the United States (i.e. a citizen or national of the United States, a lawful permanent resident, a foreign national authorized to work in the United States without the need of employer sponsorship) on or before the effective date of appointment.

How to Apply:

WittKieffer is assisting UW-Madison with this search. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by June 10, 2024, however, this position will remain open and applications may be considered until this position is filled.

Please direct all applications, nominations, and inquiries to:

Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in this job posting.

UW-Madison will not reveal the identities of applicants who request confidentiality in writing, except that the identity of the successful candidate will be released. See Wis. Stat. sec. 19.36(7). When submitting materials for consideration, please request that your candidacy remain confidential.


WittKieffer Executive Search
Relay Access (WTRS): 7-1-1. See RELAY_SERVICE for further information.

Official Title:

Vice Chancellor(EX011)



Employment Class:


Job Number:


The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to, including but not limited to, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability, or status as a protected veteran and other bases as defined by federal regulations and UW System policies. We promote excellence through diversity and encourage all qualified individuals to apply. For more information regarding applicant and employee rights and to view federal and state required postings, click here

If you need to request an accommodation because of a disability, you can find information about how to make a request at the following website:

Employment will require a criminal background check. It will also require you and your references to answer questions regarding sexual violence and sexual harassment.

The University of Wisconsin System will not reveal the identities of applicants who request confidentiality in writing, except that the identities of finalists must be revealed upon request. See Wis. Stat. sec. 19.36(7).

The Annual Security and Fire Safety Report contains current campus safety and disciplinary policies, crime statistics for the previous 3 calendar years, and on-campus student housing fire safety policies and fire statistics for the previous 3 calendar years. UW-Madison will provide a paper copy upon request; please contact the University of Wisconsin Police Department .

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