Vice president of university relations

About the position

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) seeks an exceptionally innovative, creative, and transformational vice president (VP) of university relations to join a dedicated staff and leadership team at one of the nation’s premier student-centered, public research universities and health systems. This cabinet-level position will be charged with further invigorating a university relations program, which is already poised to accelerate and expand its impact. The VP serves as the university and health system’s chief communications officer and represents and promotes the university and health system, increasing the institution’s visibility in support of its mission, vision, and goals. President Michael Rao’s investment in communications is a top priority for VCU and VCU Health, and he is looking for someone with whom he can work especially closely and effectively.

The ideal candidate will bring a distinguished, proven record of success, and must have significant leadership experience appropriate to the size and complexity of VCU and VCU Health. The next VP should possess the following qualities and experiences:

  • A degree (or equivalent experience) in a relevant area of study;
  • 10 – 15 years of relevant professional experience at a large, complex institution or organization;
  • Broadness in a hybrid of communications talents and skills, with a track record of success, including strategic and innovative communications planning across platforms; media relations; public relations and national media; marketing; internal communications; issues and crisis management; executive communications; content and message strategy; digital and social media; creative editorial and design services; and special events;
  • Ability to understand the current landscape of the above areas in higher education, healthcare and in the national and local landscape;
  • Significant experience as an inspirational and visionary leader, developing, and implementing a successful and comprehensive integrated strategic communications program across a decentralized enterprise with multiple constituencies, a wide variety of audiences, and varied priorities;
  • Substantial experience evaluating the strengths of existing strategic communications programs and identifying opportunities for improvement and ability to demonstrate effectiveness of programs and initiatives, using data-driven techniques, metrics and benchmarking; 
  • Demonstrated ability in successfully leading and motivating staff to achieve and sustain excellence, change, and growth and a strong commitment to personal and professional development, and the ability to build a strong, autonomous, and collaborative team; 
  • Demonstrated commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment at VCU throughout creative work, operations and interpersonal relationships; a commitment to working with multicultural populations and an awareness of issues affecting minorities and ability to develop knowledge of, respect for, and skills to engage with those of other cultures or backgrounds;
  • Superior news judgement and outstanding written and oral communications skills and presence at all levels and for all audiences, nationally and internationally; a storyteller who can create a brand and understands the value of telling a powerful story;
  • Expertise on the advantages and drawbacks of emerging digital media (websites, social media, etc.) in strategic communication for an institution, conveying information and content in ways that engage and excite constituents, including prospective students and their families, alumni, and the wider public;
  • Demonstrated ability preparing, justifying, and presenting business cases, budgets, and plans; and measuring the impact of different strategies and programs. A keen eye for operational efficiency and optimal use of resources; the ability to plan, monitor, and manage a budget;
  • A demonstrated leadership style that is collegial, empathetic, and genuine, with superlative interpersonal skills to manage internal and external relationships; 
  • Comfort dealing effectively, diplomatically, and sensitively with all levels of management and staff across a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences and the demonstration of an honest respect for each individual; 
  • Demonstrated emotional intelligence and situational awareness with strong influencing skills, demonstrated ability to earn credibility and influence opinion leaders. Intellectual depth, maturity and confidence to garner the trust of the President, Board, faculty, staff, alumni and other constituents;
  • Decisive and brave leadership, consultative, with the ability to make decisions to lead the University and division;
  • Flexible and resilient, someone who is not consumed by challenges; and 
  • Strong, personal and professional integrity, with adherence to ethical standards in the communications profession. 

Preferred qualifications

  • Master’s degree;
  • Experience in communications at a higher education institution, large health care system; or with communications, government, federal, or state organizations;
  • A deep appreciation for the history, achievements, and aspirations of VCU, and the ability to articulate those to a diverse audience in an effective and eloquent manner;
  • General understanding of public safety communications, including crisis communications, Clery Act requirements; and
  • Project management skills and effective delegation abilities.


Salary will be competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience. 

How to apply

Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. is assisting Virginia Commonwealth University in this search. Applications and nominations are now being accepted. Confidential inquiries, nominations, and application materials should be directed to Greenwood/Asher & Associates. For a full application package, please provide a cover letter, CV, and list of five references. Submission of application materials as PDF attachments is strongly encouraged. The search will be conducted with a commitment of confidentiality for candidates until finalists are selected. Initial screening of applications will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made.

Application materials should be submitted to the VCU eJobs portal located at the link below and to Greenwood/Asher & Associates by email. 

VCU eJobs portal:

Please direct inquiries, nominations, and application materials to:

Betty Asher, Partner & Vice President


Ann Bailey, Senior Executive Search Consultant



Virginia Commonwealth University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action university providing access to education and employment without regard to race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex (including pregnancy), political affiliation, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or disability. Women, minorities, veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.