Director, Communications and External Relations; Division of Business Services

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Jun 23, 2024
Full time Deans & Directors External Relations, PR, Marketing

Job Description


Director, Communications and External Relations; Division of Business Services

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 Large Employers in 2023.

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.

Posted Job Title
Director, Communications and External Relations; Division of Business Services

Job Profile Title
Director D, Arts and Media, Communications and Marketing

Job Description Summary
Reporting to the Associate Vice President of Business Services, the Director of Communications and External Relations is a member of a three-person team that manages communications, media relations, marketing, customer service, and special projects and initiatives for 15+ different departments and programs under the Business Services Division.

Job Description

Job Responsibilities

Although each member of the communications team is anticipated to have working knowledge of the other positions so as to serve as a cross-trained back-up if needed, the Director of Communications and External Relations is primarily responsible for the following:

Communications and Media Interactions:

  • Perform expert-level written and verbal communications to create, review, and edit varied content in print, electronic, and web-based communications (including but not limited to press releases, email outreach, and direct mail pieces—working with graphic designers, printers, and related professionals to develop collateral and campaigns).
  • Provide oversight and guidance for internal and external resources (e.g., marketing and communications staff within individual departments, peer positions under the employment of contracted service providers).
  • Draft and deliver executive correspondence and talking points on behalf of the Vice President for Business Services and other senior leaders in the division—ensuring that those communications contain clear and compelling messaging to diverse audiences and establish a consistent “voice” for the division.
  • Serve as the division's public spokesperson and primary contact for media inquiries, working with University Communications as needed.
  • Support social media initiatives, using analytic tools to gather and interpret data (e.g., Sprout Social, Google Analytics).
  • Supporting crisis management and response is a critical aspect of the communication role.
  • Manage and/or support divisional events and participation as needed.
  • Responsible for the management of the division's website and content management systems.

Business Unit Collaborations:

  • Work with the business units to measure current levels of service delivery in each of the division's departments while using a variety of research tools (e.g., Qualtrics surveys, focus groups, peer institution research reviews) to benchmark performance, produce reports, identify broader issues and trends and participate in assessing policies and practices to make improvements.
  • Support the unique and multi-faceted needs of Residential and Hospitality Services - especially for student-oriented services such as Housing, Dining, and Off-Campus Living.
  • Author content to document and explain complex issues, policies, and practices.
  • Develop visually striking, informative presentations that incorporate quantitative and qualitative data and present information in a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand manner suitable for the intended audience.
  • Maintain a hands-on, active role in understanding, maintaining, and developing the Campus Express at Penn program, which serves as the division's comprehensive marketing strategy for its student-facing services.

Stakeholder and Constituent Relations:

  • Represent the division and its interests on committees and in related forums.
  • Serve as a liaison with peer positions across the University on joint initiatives that call for cooperative effort on the part of the division.
  • Ensure broad engagement with key constituent groups, participate in discussions, and attend meetings with stakeholders involved in University governance structures (e.g., University Council, Undergraduate Assembly, Graduate and Professional Student Association, and executive leaders that manage academic and administrative matters across the institution).
  • Identify and embrace opportunities to keep apprised of emerging initiatives and themes that impact the University and higher education as an industry.
  • Leverage communications expertise to provide support and ensure adherence to University-wide standards, initiatives, and priorities that include environmental sustainability, compliance with web-accessibility guidelines, good privacy practices, Philadelphia and West-Philadelphia community engagement, diversity and inclusion, and other social responsibility values embraced by the University.


  • Minimum 7-10 years experience and Bachelors Degree is required (Master's Degree or more is preferred); or an equivalent combination of education and experience in a responsible administrative leadership position that incorporates the significant facets of the job responsibilities outlined above.
  • Expert level oral/written communication; ability to draft and develop compelling presentations through written and electronic media (advanced training and demonstrated skills in and presentation software is helpful).
  • Ability to write and deliver persuasive messaging and content.
  • Understanding the University environment and academic mission is essential.
  • Ability to function with a high degree of autonomy.
  • Demonstrable experience with media relations and external.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to encourage collaboration.
  • Experience with event planning.
  • Strong comfort with technology is essential, including working with web developers in projects that include attention to navigation and integrated, functional applications (understanding logical, business process flows is a must).
  • Fundamental understanding of surveys, research methodology, and the associated reporting, measures, and analysis.

Job Location - City, State
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School
Business Services

Pay Range
$90,860.00 - $160,000.00 Annual Rate
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.

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