Executive Director of Communications

Memphis, Tennessee
May 30, 2017
Rhodes College-Inside Higher Ed
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

diversity employer

Rhodes College, located in Memphis, Tennessee is a national, four-year, private, coeducational, residential college committed to the liberal arts and sciences. Rhodes’ highest priorities are intellectual engagement, service to others and honor.  Since 1848, Rhodes College has aspired to graduate students with a life-long passion for learning, a compassion for others, and the ability to translate academic study and personal concern into effective leadership and action in their communities and the world.

Rhodes College is seeking an experienced professional to serve as Executive Director of Communications. The Executive Director will be the senior communications officer and should possess a strong, proven track record and leadership skills. The successful candidate will partner closely with the new president, Dr. Marjorie Hass, and report to Vice President for Enrollment and Communications and Dean of Admission, J. Carey Thompson, as an important member of the division.

The Position:  The Executive Director of Communications will be a strategic thinker and planner who advises the President and other senior leaders of the college on a range of communication issues related to the life and future of the college.  Primary focus areas for this position include supporting student recruitment and enrollment, supporting fund-raising and friend-raising, and continuing to enhance the national profile of the college.  Further, the Executive Director will work to identify challenges and emerging issues faced by Rhodes and work with members of the campus community to recognize internal and external communications opportunities and solutions, and define and execute appropriate strategies to support them.  The Executive Director sits on the President’s cabinet, attends trustee meetings, and works closely with the President as special projects are assigned.  The Executive Director will lead a team of eight competent, dedicated and hardworking communications staff in all forms of electronic, digital, print, and oral communications necessary to complement the good work of the institution.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Plan, develop, implement and evaluate creative and effective comprehensive marketing and communications strategy to promote the mission and interests of the college in collaboration with senior leaders of the college.
  • Create a brand/marketing/public relations strategy that will cultivate and enhance meaningful relationships with targeted, high-level external partners, including the media, public officials and key influencers in collaboration with senior leadership.
  • Advise the Rhodes College community on internal communications issues, and partner with the President in communicating with internal and external audiences.
  • Provide leadership and direction for the overall planning, management, evaluation and assessment for publications, media relations, and electronic media.
  • Work with the publications staff on conceptual development, design, and editorial approach to publications; serve as executive editor on all publications, including the printed and online Rhodes alumni magazine.
  • Increase the visibility of Rhodes and implement strategic plans for marketing through print and electronic media; pinpoint areas of concern or interest to the media; take initiative to discover stories that support the marketing plan and work with staff to effect strategic media placement.
  • Direct and assist the media relations manager in handling media inquiries and fast-breaking news.
  • Coordinate the college’s response to matters requiring a public or an official statement; serve as the college’s official spokesperson when necessary.
  • Establish thorough and widely accepted college policies governing marketing and communications and relay those policies to all divisions and departments of the college.
  • Advise faculty and administrators about promotional strategies for major events and new programs using direct mail, print and electronic communications, and media advertising; collaborate on campus events including Opening Convocation and Commencement.
  • Serve on select committees and work with key internal constituents to plan newsworthy events and speakers to increase Rhodes’ visibility locally, regionally, and nationally.
  • Develop contacts and gain pertinent information about resources in the Memphis area to help connect Rhodes to the community.
  • Promote a culture of high performance and continuous improvement that values learning and a commitment to quality.
  • Mentor and develop staff using a supportive and collaborative approach.

Desired Qualities and Experience:

The successful candidate will have at least seven years of professional experience in communications, with previous experience in higher education preferred; those with exceptional communications experience in other professions will be considered. A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree is preferred.  In addition, candidates should demonstrate:

  • A broad knowledge of all facets of communications, including web development, e-communications, print, and emerging electronic and social media platforms;
  • Excellent interpersonal, social, oral and verbal communication skills; excellent public-speaking skills;
  • High energy and evidence as a professional who is a self-starter;
  • A passion for higher education and, in particular, the success of the institution;
  • Innate comfort and ease in communicating to a variety of audiences, ranging from students to trustees, with polish and sophistication;
  • Facility to embrace and thrive in a diverse environment;
  • Strong management and leadership skills with the ability to lead and mentor with compassion and accountability;
  • Adept at breaking down silos through the practice of open, institution-wide communication;
  • Evidence of strong organizational skills related to leading and managing people and processes;
  • Willingness to learn and embrace Memphis.

Rhodes College:  Rhodes is welcoming its 20th President this summer, Dr. Marjorie Hass, who is an accomplished leader and experienced educator.  Dr. Hass has stated, “Rhodes College’s ambition to serve as a national model for liberal arts and civic engagement is deeply compelling. And its commitment to student-centered learning and preparing students for meaningful lives resonates with my own values.” After a distinguished 18-year tenure at Rhodes, Dr. William E. Troutt is retiring.  “By every measure, Rhodes has become a stronger college under President Troutt’s leadership,” according to William Michaelcheck, outgoing chairman of the Rhodes Board of Trustees. “Our academic offerings have been reshaped and enriched. Strategic partnerships with great Memphis institutions have created one-of-a-kind research, service, and internships opportunities for our students. And today, we have the largest, most academically talented and diverse student body in our history.”

Rhodes’ Collegiate Gothic campus sits on a 110-acre, wooded site in the heart of historic Midtown Memphis, TN, making Rhodes one of a handful of prominent liberal arts colleges located in a major metropolitan area.  Walkways, quadrangles, residence halls, common areas and classrooms are all intentionally designed to encourage intimate conversation, the exchange of ideas and life-changing connections.  In its 2017 edition, the Princeton Review named Rhodes the #1 Most Beautiful College Campus in America.

The Rhodes experience combines the best of the classroom and the real world—through internships, service, research and other opportunities in Memphis and far beyond. 2,000 students from 46 states, plus D.C., and 41 countries learn, play and serve others with a determination to grow personally and to improve the quality of life within their communities.  Multicultural and international students make up 28 percent of the student body.  Rhodes offers more than 50 majors and minors.  Rhodes’ active student body participate in service (80%), internships (75%), study abroad (65%) and over 100 student clubs, organizations, intramural and club sports.  The Rhodes Lynx are comprised of 21 men’s and women’s NCAA Division III intercollegiate teams and compete in the Southern Athletic Association Conference. 

Rhodes is in the top 10 percent of all U.S. baccalaureate colleges for the percentage of students who earn Ph.D.’s in the sciences, and among the top five in the Southeast.  Since 2002, Rhodes students have won:  13 Fulbright Scholarships, 11 Goldwater Scholarships, nine Watson Fellowships, six NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, three Truman Scholarships, two Luce Scholarships, two National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships, and one Rhodes Scholarship.

For further information on the College, go to www.rhodes.edu


Rhodes College is profiled in The Princeton Review’s recently released The Best 381 Colleges for 2017, and ranks No. 1 on its Most Beautiful Campus list and No. 2 for Most Engaged in Community Service. For the second year in a row, Rhodes was also included in The Princeton Review’s lists of “Colleges That Create Futures: 50 Schools That Launch Careers By Going Beyond the Classroom” and “Colleges That Pay You Back.” For two years in a row, Rhodes was named America’s #1 Service-Oriented College by Newsweek magazine. In addition, Rhodes regularly garners accolades from U.S. News and World Report, Forbes and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges. Rhodes is also profiled in the prestigious book Colleges That Change Lives.

Liberal Arts in the City of Memphis, TN: Memphis is a city of striking combinations and boundless creativity, a place where passion, ideals, cultures, and opportunity converge in authentic ways. It’s these unexpected combinations that empower individuals to make their mark and create their own one-of-a-kind experiences for a better life and better world.

The city is filled with unexpected fusions: global commerce and local start-ups, high culture and outdoor adventure, soul food and haute cuisine, world-class infrastructure and spectacular green- and blue-ways, rich heritage and forward thinking, and, of course, all the many forms of music born and still being recorded here, which create a wholly original Memphis sound.

Steps away from campus, the Rhodes community have the option of getting their fill at the many locally owned restaurants in Overton Square, enjoying the best musical talents at the Levitt Shell, and connecting with nature at the Memphis Zoo  or along the Greenline - Memphis' six-and-a-half mile bike lane that connects the city's center to Shelby Farms Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Families have the opportunity to attend art, music, and food festivals, seeing Broadway plays at the Orpheum Theatre, and cheering on the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum in Downtown Memphis. 

To apply, nominate, or inquire:  Napier Executive Search is assisting Rhodes College in finding the best professional to fill the position of Executive Director of Communications.  To arrange for a confidential conversation, please contact Mary Napier (Mary.Napier@napiersearch.com) or Robin Reynders (Robin.Reynders@napiersearch.com).  To apply, please send a resume, a detailed letter of interest and contact information for three professional references by email to:  Rhodes@napiersearch.com.  For assurance of full consideration, please submit application materials no later than July 5, 2017.  Resumes will be reviewed until the position is filled.  All applications and nominations will be considered confidential and notice will be given before references are contacted.

Rhodes offers an excellent benefits package and a great working environment.


Rhodes is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in the workforce.