Director of Events

Job description

Hyde Park Campus

35390 Harris Sch Pub Policy

About the Unit
Why policy? For a better world. Why Harris Public Policy? Because when it comes to better policymaking, evidence matters. We work at the frontiers of data collection and analysis, using the latest technology and social science methods to design policies that work for society. We conduct rigorous inquiry in an environment of innovation and risk taking, fearlessly questioning the status quo. We collaborate across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, adopting new methodologies to drive better solutions. We engage with our city, our world, and our leaders every day to evaluate and test our ideas. And we lead with our passion for driving social change, knowing that passion alone does not equal impact. With passion and precision, we figure out what's best for society—and get it done. This is Harris Public Policy: Social impact, down to a science.

Job Information

Job Summary:

The Director of Events leads and manages the events function for the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. This position reports to Associate Dean of Communications and Marketing. The Director designs, plans and executes events that highlight the school's mission, engages its stakeholders, and enhances its reputation as a leading public policy school. Attendees of such events may include, but are not limited to, students, faculty, staff, alumni, thought leaders, donors, employers, and Harris partners. In addition to leading the development of signature, branded events designed to advance Harris' communications and marketing strategy, the Director of Events also serves as a school-wide strategic resource for program planning and sets the standard of quality and excellence for all Harris-sponsored events. As such, this role will partner closely with Harris Academic and Student Affairs, Alumni Relations and Development, External Relations, Harris-affiliated Centers, and other entities on campus that seek to produce events that involve the domain of public policy.

This Director of Events joins Harris at an exciting time for the school. We recently welcomed a new dean, Katherine Baicker. Our incoming class has broken national records. And, in January 2019, we'll open the doors to our new building, the Keller Center. In anticipation of this move, the Director of Events will play a leading role in shaping the future vision for Harris' events function and related programming to leverage the facilities' dynamic event space and South Side location to serve as a beacon for policy-relevant discourse and impact.


Lead the strategic planning of Harris events, including programming (e.g., content, format, and speakers) and logistics

  • Work with teams across Harris, and at times, the Dean to understand and solidify the objectives of the events, provide strategic plans to execute the event
  • Establish goals of events and provide input or feedback on content and types of programming based on departmental or event client needs
  • Facilitates planning sessions, when needed, for clients to solidify event programming, establish event details, and identify and engage stakeholders
  • Provide leadership, direction and approval in performance of the details of event production, with emphasis on high standards for customer service, attention to detail, protocol, and etiquette
  • Leads program content planning, in partnership with the Associate Dean of Communications and Marketing, for Harris' signature events and branded series; develops recommendations for new event programming to advance the school's position as a thought leader within the context of Harris' overall communications and marketing plan
  • Develop and track a project plan for the event preparation and day-of execution and provide operational direction to ensure all aspects of the event remain on track
  • Develop a communication plan that involves all partners
  • Create a detailed timeline for each stage of the event and preparation
  • Map out an organized budget and monitor spending reports
  • Communicate with other offices within Harris frequently during event planning and execution in order to understand and meet the needs of all stakeholders and involve students, alumni, donors, and other Harris constituents effectively
  • Facilitate discussions and decisions about key event requirements to ensure all key stakeholders align to event details and plans.
  • Prepare a quarterly report that critically assesses the success of events held throughout the year and discuss recommendations with the leadership team for enhancements, best practices and lessons learned going forward.

Oversee execution of all major Harris events
  • Delegate responsibilities to the Harris Events Office team members and monitor their progress to ensure successful execution of event plans. May train, oversee, and monitor the work of the Events team
  • Approve timelines for planning and day-of-event activities, and oversee the planning and execution of logistics (e.g., facility selection, menu planning, transportation arrangements, and audio/visual equipment) for organization meetings and special events.
  • Track and review event preparation activities that include but are not restricted to:
  • Negotiation of contracts with vendors and coordination of vendor services such as catering, entertainment, and custodial services, to ensure that all event needs are met
  • Review and approval of marketing and communication materials such as brochures, booklets, invitations, and website and social media announcements
  • Management of RSVPs and other attendant responses as well as post event follow-up (thank- you notes, audio-visual recording distribution etc.)
  • Selection of venue facilities and development of appropriate floor plans
  • Transportation and parking arrangement
  • Implementation of check-in procedures and attendance tracking options
  • Resolve any issues and/or conflicts that arise during the planning stages or the course of the events
  • Create contingency plans and implement solutions for any unexpected changes or issues that arise
  • Troubleshoot technical issues
  • Monitor and evaluate the performance of the vendors
  • Ensure implementation of event objectives are in compliance with University policies, procedures and standards

Oversee and manage vendor selection, contract negotiation, and relationship management
  • Identify and select vendors to meet event needs. Prepare a list of preferred vendors for all service requirements
  • Negotiate terms and pricing, and finalize contracts with vendors
  • Build, manage and improve relationships with vendors and service providers

Provide strategic counsel and direction for events led by other Harris offices and centers, and units of the University which involve Harris interests
  • Set direction for events function at Harris, including providing templates, resources and strategic guidance to other units at Harris involved in planning events
  • Direct the development of policies and procedures for all events and approving the content of marketing materials and all other communications
  • Manage and oversee Harris school-wide events calendar to ensure coordination across the school and to maximize event attendance and engagement
  • Provide budgetary guidance and financial planning resources to other units
  • Lead, execute and support events that are co-sponsored with Harris. Assemble and deliver briefings to the senior leaders at Harris and across the University
  • Partner with events colleagues in other units across campus in identifying opportunities to co-sponsor events and to attract other policy-relevant events to Harris' new building, the Keller Center, as a venue

Measure Results and Analyze the Impact of Events
  • Build and maintain an electronic mechanism for tracking all event logistics throughout the lifecycle of the event, including post-event summaries
  • Track event data, including attendance and attendees, surveys, cost per participant, and any other post-event data requested
  • Partner with key stakeholders to determine the criteria and key success factors that will be used to gauge and measure event success.
  • Collect feedback post event to measure success.
  • Conduct a post-mortem analysis to identify and make recommendations to improve events as necessary.
  • Document themes of excellence and opportunities for improvement

Manage, develop, and support events staff
  • Directly supervise work of Events office team members
  • Manage and coach other staff involved in events planning within other units at Harris to ensure access to best practices and quality
  • Continually assess and identify opportunities to engage others within and external to the University in Harris initiatives and bring identified opportunities for engagement to the appropriate people within Harris
  • Support administrative office needs

  • Professional demeanor, including tact, discretion, and a customer service-oriented approach to the job
  • Experience working with senior executives, dignitaries, and/or public officials required
  • Ability to execute events and meetings within an established budget
  • Strong verbal and writing skills, high attention to detail and follow-up, and excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to multi-task and handle multiple priorities and constituents simultaneously and demonstrate grace under pressure when handling challenging or unexpected situations
  • Ability to deliver high quality results in a dynamic environment and to actively anticipate and respond to future needs
  • Ability to work collegially and collaboratively in a team setting
  • An exceptional work ethic and track record of personal initiative
  • Willingness and ability to travel occasionally, work some evenings and weekends required

Additional Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree or higher required
  • A minimum of six years of progressively responsible experience in event planning and meeting management particularly with executive level events required

Technical Knowledge or Skills:
  • Working knowledge and experience with Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Eventbrite, and MailChimp
  • Familiarity with program planning for thought leadership content-driven events preferred
  • Familiarity with higher education environment and knowledge of the University of Chicago's unique culture is a plus

Required Documents:
  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • References

NOTE: When applying, all required documents MUST be uploaded under the Resume/CV section of the application

Benefit Eligibility

Pay Frequency

Pay Range
Depends on Qualification

Scheduled Weekly Hours


Job is Exempt?

Drug Test Required?

Does this position require incumbent to operate a vehicle on the job?

Health Screen Required?

Posting Date

Remove from Posting On or Before

Posting Statement:

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.

Staff Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-5800 or submit a request via Applicant Inquiry Form.

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Full time

About Us
The University of Chicago is an urban research university that has driven new ways of thinking since 1890. Our commitment to free and open inquiry draws inspired scholars to our global campuses, where ideas are born that challenge and change the world.

We empower individuals to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Students in the College develop critical, analytic, and writing skills in our rigorous, interdisciplinary core curriculum. Through graduate programs, students test their ideas with UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.

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Job No:
Posted: 4/14/2018
Application Due: 6/2/2018
Work Type: