The University at Buffalo (UB) seeks an experienced and forward-thinking professional to provide leadership to the overarching communications enterprise in support of UB’s institutional vision to be recognized as one of the nation’s best research universities. The position of chief communications officer is being elevated to a cabinet-level appointment with this recruitment, acknowledging the critical role of strategic and effective communications in advancing the university’s ambitious academic mission and in deepening and extending its impact and renown, locally, nationally and globally. UB is at a special point in its history when it is poised to tell impressive stories about the transformations it has created in teaching, research, and engagement over the last several years, and is actively realizing a bold vision for its future as a 21 century research university. This pivotal period provides the new vice president for communications a significant opportunity for branding and positioning to earn the university recognition commensurate with its accomplishments and potential.
UB is the largest and most comprehensive university center in the State University of New York (SUNY) system and has been a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) since 1990. The university is guided by its ambitious UB 2020 vision, which seeks to expand the university’s distinction and relevance among the world’s foremost research universities and enhance UB’s prominence and impact as a recognized leader in responding to broadly defined societal challenges. With one of the nation’s largest international enrollments and affiliation agreements with over 80 universities in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa, UB is a global university in scope and impact, recognized around the world as a leading center for groundbreaking research and discovery. The 2012-13 Times Higher Education World University Rankings listed UB in the top 200 universities worldwide, affirming UB’s stature as one of the world’s preeminent universities.
Impactful research, scholarly distinction, transformative student experiences and far-reaching service to local, state, national and international communities define UB’s mission as a premier research-intensive public university. UB was founded in 1846 as a private medical college located in downtown Buffalo. UB joined SUNY in 1962 and is today the largest, most comprehensive research university within the 64-campus SUNY system and its primary center for professional education and training. UB enrolls close to 29,000 students (approximately 2/3 undergraduate and 1/3 graduate and professional students), and offers nearly 400 degree programs at the baccalaureate, master’s, professional and doctoral levels across its 12 decanal units. UB is a global community of scholars, consistently ranking among the nation’s top 10-20 universities for the enrollment of international students. UB’s current international enrollment is 19% of the overall student body.
UB boasts a distinguished faculty of approximately 1,550 full-time members and almost 650 part-time members. With more than 150 research centers and institutes, UB’s current annual research expenditures, including affiliated institutions, are approximately $350 million. The libraries hold 4 million volumes in seven major units and an exceptionally wide array of digital information resources.
Continuing to elevate the university in excellence, impact, and stature is the guiding objective of the UB 2020 vision, and the university is actively realizing this vision by building excellence across its research, education, and engagement activities and in the physical environment that supports this broader academic enterprise.
The president and provost recently launched the Realizing UB 2020 initiative as the next evolution of this vision, building on the progress and momentum the university has achieved and using it as the springboard for taking the institution to the next level of excellence. This process is focused on defining the distinctive qualities that set the university apart from its peers, and aligning these distinctive qualities to allow UB to lead with even greater impact in the 21st century.
Recognizing the key role that a vibrant 21st-century physical campus environment plays in enhancing education, research and learning, as part of the UB 2020 vision UB is implementing a long-range plan for enhancing its North, South and Downtown campus spaces and connecting them more effectively to their surrounding communities. UB’s North Campus, located in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst, is the university’s main undergraduate campus, and home to the university’s primary athletics and cultural facilities. Three miles to the south, on the northern edge of the City of Buffalo, is the university’s historical South Campus, which serves as the primary health sciences campus. UB also has a rapidly developing third campus center in downtown Buffalo. The focal point of UB’s downtown presence is the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, on which UB’s new medical school facility will be constructed in proximity to the university’s health and life science partners.
With annual revenues of almost $1.2 billion from all sources, UB and its affiliated entities generate an estimated economic impact of $1.7 billion annually in the state and region.
The university’s total workforce of almost 6,400 full-time equivalent employees makes it one of the region’s largest employers. UB is also a leader and an active partner with the more than 20 public and private colleges and universities in the Buffalo Niagara region.
UB also distinguishes itself within the region by the rich array of cultural, recreational, and athletic offerings it makes available each year to members of the campus and surrounding community. The Center for the Arts and other campus performance venues host hundreds of live performances and programs each year, across the full spectrum of theater, dance, music, comedy, visual arts, and distinguished speakers. UB fields the only full Division I-A athletics program in the SUNY system. The UB Bulls compete in the Mid-American Conference, and have won conference or national championships in recent years in football, men’s basketball, women’s rowing, and men’s and women’s tennis. UB’s student athletes consistently earn conference-wide and national recognition for their academic achievements, including Academic All-MAC honors and NCAA recognition.
The University at Buffalo website is www.buffalo.edu
A comprehensive overview of UB 2020 is available at: http://www.buffalo.edu/ub2020/about/what_is_ub_2020.html
Internationally recognized as an accomplished researcher and transformative higher education leader, Dr. Satish K. Tripathi was appointed the 15 president of the University at Buffalo on April 18, 2011. His vision for UB’s future focuses on moving the university into the highest ranks of the nation’s leading research universities through expanding its reach and impact locally, as well as globally.
Dr. Tripathi, who served as UB’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs from 2004-2011, was one of the principal creators of the UB 2020 strategic plan to achieve academic research excellence, and has led the university to significant growth in research and scholarly activity, enhanced student quality and diversity, and an expanded international presence. A fellow of the IEEE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is an internationally distinguished scholar in the field of computer science.
An internationally renowned scholar in chemical engineering and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, Charles F. Zukoski was named provost and executive vice president for academic affairs on June 1, 2012. Dr. Zukoski joined UB from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he had previously served as professor and head of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department and as vice chancellor of research. From 2008-2011, he held the position of Chair of the Science and Engineering Research Council in Singapore. Dr. Zukoski was named one of the 100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
The Buffalo-Niagara region, home to 1.5 million residents, is the state’s second largest major metropolitan area, exceeded only by New York City. The region includes a diverse blend of communities, each with its own distinct personality, yet commonly characterized by a distinctly neighborly way of life, an unpretentious nature and spirited loyalty among residents. Buffalo’s own strong sense of community, easy lifestyle and affordability regularly place it in top ten lists from a variety of national publications for its overall quality of life.
Buffalo offers an impressive array of cultural and recreational opportunities uncommon for a region of its size. Buffalo’s rich cultural resources reflect its distinguished history and a commitment to sustaining the arts, including the Grammy-Award winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; the world-class collection of modern painting and sculpture at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery; an extensive array of historic architectural treasures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan, and Eero and Eliel Saarinen; and an expansive park system, considered to be the very best work of landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s career. The city is home to the state’s largest concentration of theaters outside of New York City.
The Buffalo area is rich in natural resources and beauty. Buffalo Niagara is a four-season region that offers the best for seasonal sports enthusiasts. University at Buffalo fans enjoy a full complement of 20 NCAA division I sports with the UB Bulls, as well as the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, Triple-A baseball’s Buffalo Bisons, and the National Lacrosse League’s Buffalo Bandits.
Less than a two-hour drive from Buffalo across the United States-Canada border is Toronto, the cultural, entertainment and financial capital of Canada. Buffalo is also ideally located for easy access to many of America’s greatest cities. The Buffalo-Niagara International Airport offers direct flights to more than 20 cities, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C., all only an hour’s flight time away.
Reporting to the president as a member of the cabinet, the vice president for communications has responsibility for articulating the university’s vision, values, and priorities across the institution and on a national and global stage, enhancing UB’s institutional image and managing the university’s reputation as a leader among the nation’s premier higher education institutions, through communications to key internal and external constituencies and audiences. The vice president will oversee and integrate the branding and communications function locally, nationally and globally. S/he will serve as a media spokesperson, and will develop the university’s brand vision, strategy and campaigns to communicate across a diverse spectrum of audiences, including students, faculty and staff; alumni and donors; neighbors, community leaders and residents; elected officials, and higher education peers.
The vice president must welcome the unique challenges and rewards of working as part of a collaborative culture in a large and complex organization. Developing relationships, credibility and trust with the university’s academic and administrative leadership, faculty, and centralized and decentralized communications professionals will be essential to achieving the objectives of the position.
This senior leadership position will be responsible for all
branding, marketing communications and public relations initiatives
to include brand research and strategy; media strategy including
digital, broadcast and print; internal communications; issues and
crisis management; digital and social media; measurement and
performance management to ensure accountability and continuous
improvement; and innovation to capture new and emerging
opportunities. The vice president will acquire a comprehensive
understanding of the university’s diverse needs, and
communications challenges and opportunities, and then shape and
implement appropriate strategies in response. In addition to
leading the university’s team of centralized communications
professionals, the vice president will foster collaboration and
provide strategic direction, ideas, and support to decentralized
communications activities based in the academic and administrative
Among the specific responsibilities of the position are the following:
o Partner with the president and vice presidents and collaborate with presidential staff to provide communications counsel to the university’s senior leadership on high level matters related to executive communications, including visibility, positioning, and public relations.
o Develop and sustain fruitful and lasting relationships with the university’s key strategic audiences, including regional and statewide communities and leadership.
o Develop and execute a comprehensive, long-term and proactive university-wide communications, marketing and branding strategy, consistent with the strategic goals, plans and aspirations of the university, and reflective of market research as a key component.
o Develop and implement strategies for the use of digital and social media and other emerging technologies to support university branding and communications initiatives and to establish UB as a leader in institutional communications. Collaborate with UB’s chief information officer to ensure consistent support of growing digital communications platforms and technologies.
o Provide and facilitate internal communications content to foster enhanced institutional identity and pride among faculty, staff, students, alumni and other key stakeholders.
o Promote and facilitate collaboration and consistency to coordinate messages, marketing and all branding efforts across the university and among all of the university’s decentralized communications units that interface with external constituents.
o Oversee the university’s media relations strategy, including key relationships with on-campus, local, national and international media to further position and promote the university. Develop programs and prepare key administrators to deal effectively with the media.
o Serve as the university’s principal spokesperson as needed.
o Serve as lead adviser on all critical communications matters. Manage communication of difficult and sensitive university issues, including crisis and emergency communications, drawing upon the expertise and intellectual range of the UB community to help inform decision-making, when appropriate.
o Manage the resources and personnel of the university’s centralized communications unit for strategic implementation of communications tactics. Provide leadership and mentorship to staff, both in terms of departmental strategy and professional development.
o A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (advanced degree highly preferred).
o Substantial leadership experience of increasing responsibility and demonstrated success in a comparable and comprehensive senior-level communications role in a complex, mission-driven, organization, preferably one with international reach.
o Effective management and promotion of brand identity and development of key messages for use with a broad range of constituencies.
o Experience in, or a deep familiarity with and appreciation for the complexities of a major public research university and its role in the global arena, including institutional education and research missions, and the challenges, priorities and issues affecting the research university landscape at the national level.
o Demonstrated ability to think strategically and execute programs in support of an organization’s vision and strategy.
o Track record as a change agent. Proven ability to develop and implement plans during growth and change.
o Experience overseeing internal and external communications strategies in a large, complex, decentralized organization, and skill in promoting and enhancing visibility for the organization.
o Direct or collaborative experience in supporting and advising on presidential and senior executive communications.
o Strong interpersonal skills, and the presence and manner to represent the University effectively, both internally and externally with enthusiasm and conviction. Diplomacy and leadership to inspire confidence, lead change and build consensus within the university.
o Demonstrated commitment to diversity at the institutional and unit levels as a leader and manager.
o Demonstrated ability to recruit, develop, mentor and lead a strong, participative team of competent high-performing staff.
o Demonstrated success with, and a sophisticated understanding of communications best practices, market research, and new and emerging technologies, and their relevance and application to advancing UB’s interests. Proven experience with measurement and analytics.
For more information, please contact Heyman Associates:
Peter W. McDermott
The University at Buffalo is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer dedicated to the goal of building a culturally diverse and pluralistic university community committed to teaching and working in a multicultural environment. Potential applicants who share this goal are encouraged to apply.