Vice President for Communications

Canton, New York
Sep 12, 2017
St. Lawrence University
Executive Administration Jobs
Vice Presidents
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

St. Lawrence University, a coeducational, private, independent liberal arts institution with an enrollment of 2,400 students seeks candidates for Vice President for Communications.  Reporting to President William L. Fox ‘75 and serving as a member of the Senior Staff, the successful candidate will lead efforts to strategically shape and communicate the compelling story of the St. Lawrence community of students, faculty, administration and alumni.

As a member of a team, this person is responsible for internal and external communications, furthering the brand of St. Lawrence in particular partnership with advancement and enrollment efforts, creatively managing a talented staff of thirteen, and collaborating across campus on a variety of projects and priorities.

Capitalizing on recent award-winning University Communications efforts that include a staff dedicated to delivering enhanced print and visual representation of the institution’s commitment to the liberal arts; an innovative and integrated social media presence; an intuitive and informative web presence; and, regular placements and recognition in regional and national media, the selected candidate will demonstrate proficiencies in a variety of traditional and new media while providing leadership in contemporary marketing and public relations approaches within higher education.  The Vice President is also responsible for developing and maintaining a broad set of external relationships with the media and community leaders.  The Vice President oversees emergency and crisis communications plans and has oversight of North Country Public Radio.

THE UNIVERSITY: St. Lawrence University is a selective, national liberal arts college with strong market demand; for the Class entering in Fall 2017, St. Lawrence enrolled 700 first-year students, the largest class in St. Lawrence history.   With over 2,400 full-time undergraduate students, some 99% of the students residing on campus, St. Lawrence has a commitment to its residential identity.  St. Lawrence is the oldest continuing co-educational college in New York and the first to award baccalaureate degrees to women. Today 45% of the students are male, 55% are female. Students hail from 43 states and 51 countries. 

St. Lawrence’s market position statement reads: St. Lawrence University is a vibrant, collaborative community of learners who value thought and action. Students tap their full potential as they embrace the natural environment, engage with global challenges, and experience the relevance and adventure of a liberal arts education in a complex and changing world. The educational opportunities at St. Lawrence inspire students and prepare them to be critical and creative thinkers, to find a compass for their lives and careers, and to pursue knowledge and understanding for the benefit of themselves, humanity and the planet. Through its focus on active engagement with ideas in and beyond the classroom, a St. Lawrence education leads students to make connections that transform lives and communities, from the local to the global.   

Students choose a major from among 36 different academic areas, or may design their own major, with another 39 options available for minors.  St. Lawrence offers a First-Year Program that is one of the oldest living-learning programs in the country, helping students make successful transitions from high school to college, intellectually and socially, since 1987. Students live together and study in a team-taught FYP, developing the writing, speaking, and research skills needed for college. They continue to develop these skills in a spring First-Year Seminar.  Recently, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded St. Lawrence a four-year grant totaling $800,000 to support the Sophomore Journeys program.

St. Lawrence fields 32 varsity sports teams with most competing at NCAA Division III level; men’s and women’s ice hockey compete at the Division I level.  In addition, there are more than 25 club and intramural teams at St. Lawrence.

The international study program was inaugurated in 1964; today 63% of the St. Lawrence students experience an off-campus study as early as their first year as a Laurentian.  The Center for International and Intercultural Studies promotes intercultural learning within the United States and beyond its borders, preparing students for responsible membership in the global community.

To learn more: visit A few examples of St. Lawrence University's academics, campus culture, and outcomes highlighted by college rankings can be viewed here:

LOCATION: St. Lawrence University is located in the Village of Canton in northern New York, between the Adirondack Mountains and the St. Lawrence River.  An active community, the area boasts extraordinary natural resources and opportunities for four-season outdoor recreation. The Village of Canton is a welcoming community with residents who care about students and want to see them succeed. From festivals to shopping to eateries, downtown offers myriad ways for students to connect with its neighbors. Many students shop, work, and volunteer nearby.  Canton is home to North Country Public Radio (NCPR), St. Lawrence University’s award-winning National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate (WSLU 89.5 FM). In a 2015 survey of the community, St. Lawrence County was rated “Excellent” or “Good” on five key Quality of Life Indicators, including quality of environment, public outdoor recreational activities, and crime control.

St. Lawrence University’s 1000-acre campus features 94 buildings, including 16 residence halls, several theme houses and other communities.  The storied history of St. Lawrence is evidenced with a brisk walk around campus and features a mix of buildings, some that are on the National Register of Historic Places and several built to Gold LEED Standards.

The campus is situated an hour from Ottawa, Ontario; two hours from the cosmopolitan city of Montreal; and less than three hours from Syracuse, New York, and Burlington, Vermont. Four universities (SUNY-Canton, St. Lawrence University, SUNY-Potsdam, and Clarkson University) are located within the nine-mile radius of the Canton-Potsdam area. Known as Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley, the four institutions collaborate on numerous initiatives as a consortium.

QUALIFICATIONS:   Candidates for this position should have at least ten years of professional experience in communications, marketing or public relations with previous experience in higher education preferred.  An appreciation and demonstrated understanding of the liberal arts mission of the institution is strongly desired. A bachelor’s degree is required, while an advanced degree is preferred. 

In addition, candidates should demonstrate the following characteristics, skills, abilities and understanding.

  • Strategic mindset and vision to enhance current communications efforts with a well-executed, practical approach;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to serve as a University representative and spokesperson in a variety of settings;
  • A broad base of knowledge regarding all facets of external communications including print, web development, and contemporary social media tools;
  • Capacity to evaluate staff talents, uncover and nurture their abilities in a variety of media and approaches;
  • Desire to continue to encourage staff to achieve exciting results, and spur them on to blend their complementary skills in a cohesive, consistent fashion;
  • Commitment to proactively seek staff who represent a variety of backgrounds and diverse perspectives;
  • A demonstrated ability to know and understand contemporary practices in communications.  As importantly, possessing a willingness to ask the right questions and effectively suggest ways to spotlight the St. Lawrence community’s successes for each intended audience and accomplishments is desired.
  • Highest standards of integrity, creativity, intellectual curiosity, and professional ethics;
  • Commitment to continue the articulation of St. Lawrence University’s image and brand in delivery of its message to all constituents, both internal and external;
  • Ability to provide a written operational plan that integrates strategies, tactics, personnel assignments, and an on-going record of measurable objectives;
  • Appreciation for an impassioned and connected alumni body;
  • Proven use of research and technology in communications and marketing;
  • Ability to plan strategically and analyze effectively with budgeting and financial acumen
  • Desire to actively engage in the vibrant, and sometimes snowy North Country community.

TO APPLY: Napier Executive Search ( is assisting St. Lawrence University with this search for a Vice President for Communications.  For a confidential conversation, or if you wish to nominate someone for this position, please contact Mary Napier ( or Laura Robinson ( )  If you wish to apply, please send a résumé, a detailed letter of interest with emphasis on what attracts you specifically to St. Lawrence and contact information for three professional references by email to: .  Although résumés will be reviewed until the position is filled, for assurance of full consideration, please submit materials before October 13th. Formal interviews are anticipated in late October, with an expected start date of January 2018. All applications and nominations will be considered confidential and notice will be given before references are contacted.

All offers of employment are contingent upon the finalist successfully passing a background (including criminal records) check.

The University is committed to and seeks diversity among its faculty, staff and students. Such a commitment ensures an atmosphere that is diverse and complex in ways that are intellectually and socially enriching for the entire campus community. Applications by members of all underrepresented groups, as well as from individuals with experience teaching or working in a multicultural environment, are encouraged. St. Lawrence University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.