Director of Communications, Vice Provost and Dean of Research

Job description

Director of Communications, Vice Provost and Dean of Research

Stanford University

Job Number:

Stanford University is one of the world's premier academic and research institutions, devoting tremendous intellectual and physical resources toward the betterment of humanity. As a major Silicon Valley employer, Stanford seeks people committed to excellence and to improving our world. In turn, the university is committed to supporting its employees as they develop their careers and enrich their lives. We believe Stanford's future success will be shaped by the diverse perspectives, unique experiences, and inclusive culture of its community.

The Vice Provost and Dean of Research Office (VPDoR) at Stanford University comprises eighteen independent academic units, five shared facilities and platforms, and six support offices that provide university-level oversight for research compliance and administration, as well as health and safety issues. The VPDoR Office also recommends and promulgates new research policy and collaborates with departments on program scope, direction, administration, and compliance.

The Director of Communications is a new position that will report to the University Communications and will work directly with Vice Provost and Dean Kathryn Moler to support the communication needs of the VPDoR and its institutes, centers, and labs, which span the life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, engineering, and medicine. We are seeking an exceptional candidate for this high visibility, hands-on, individual role - a skillful executive communications self-starter who thrives in a very decentralized and distributed environment. This is a unique opportunity to work in a truly entrepreneurial academic community and contribute to Stanford University's global mission and its amazing world-class research enterprise.

Our VPDoR Diversity Journey:

  • We create a hub of innovation through the power of diversity of disciplines and people.
  • We provide equitable access and opportunity to all members of the community in order to do their best work, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.
  • We listen to and value all colleagues who bring diverse perspectives to the advancement and development of a respectful community.
  • We promote a culture of belonging, equity, and safety.
  • We embed these values in excellence of education, research, and operation.

Principal Responsibilities:

Serve as a trusted advisor to and support the Dean and the VPDoR in matters of communications, and support VPDoR‘s institutes, centers, and labs in a consultative and coordinating fashion, as outlined below.

  • Develop a strategic communication plan to meet the needs of key audiences, including long- and short-term goals, with methods of measuring the plan's impact on and contribution to the VPDoR.

  • Develop key messages and strategies to communicate complex information to multiple audiences and constituencies through a wide variety of communications platforms, including digital, print, and media.

  • Develop, execute, edit, and oversee written communications of a complex nature, spanning a wide spectrum of scientific, academic, policy, and compliance fields, including key content messages for speeches, presentations, talking points, town halls, magazine columns, high-level correspondence, and opinion pieces.

  • Devise and implement efficient, effective, and timely means of communicating the innovations, academic excellence, and essential nature of the VPDoR and its institutes, centers and labs to internal audiences, the public, the media, alumni, prospective and admitted students, faculty, staff, and current students.

  • Cooperate closely with the other members of University Communications to ensure consistent and complementary strategic plans with overall university outreach and communications, and keep abreast of the university's latest messaging, direction and announcement activity. Proactively forge productive relationships with campus peers and seek opportunities to advocate for VPDoR through networking and storytelling.

  • In collaboration with University Communications and other university partner organizations, develop best practices for the VPDoR for management of branding risk considerations, such as name use and reputation management, as well as governance around Stanford policy in communications. Serve as a central resource for these issues and create awareness throughout the organization broadly and with communications staff specifically through periodic messaging and guidance.

  • Establish and leverage relationships with key reporters and editors, media, community and/or government leaders at top-tier and influential media outlets, including on a national and international scale.

  • Provide media support for audiences that are both internal and external to the university in partner with the University Communications media relations team, including on a national and international scale. Ensure timely responses to incoming media issues to mitigate potential negative impact.

  • Provide strategic communications advice to the VPDoR's institutes, centers, and labs and ensure that there are effective and efficient lines of communication between the heads of those units and their communications staff and the VPDoR.

  • Assess how the VPDoR's institutes, centers, and labs fit into the high-level communications of the VPDoR and identify overlapping interests and potential synergies. Find ways to collaborate, develop messaging and storytelling, and maximize the use of content.

  • Identify opportunities to connect communications staff across the VPDoR' institutes, centers, and labs, e.g., organizing periodic centralized meetings to compare notes and share best practices, and to engage professionally and socially.

  • Assist the communications teams across the VPDoR in facilitating shared resources, e.g., freelance providers that could be available as needed on a contract basis (e.g., writing and editing, web development, graphic arts, email marketing, database, social media marketing, etc.).

  • Participate as needed in strategic planning, special projects, and other assignments pertaining to the mission of the VPDoR.

  • Prepare for crisis communications response.

  • In the future, may supervise staff.

Required Qualifications:
  • Bachelor's degree and eight years of relevant experience or combination of education and experience.
  • Depth of experience, sensitivity, and confidence befitting a strategic leadership position.
  • Strong strategic and tactical thinking ability.
  • Proven ability to manage large and complex issues through diverse and competing interests.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently, as a self-starter, and collaboratively as part of a team.
  • Excellent communications skills and presence at all levels and for all audiences.
  • Strong influencing, negotiating, and relationship management skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to earn credibility and influence opinion leaders.
  • Understanding of brand management principles.
  • Capacity to write and synthesize complex materials and communicate highly technical information in a manner easily understood.
  • Understands and thrives in a very decentralized and distributed model.
  • Effective influencing without direct authority.
  • High tolerance for ambiguity.

Preferred Qualifications:
  • Advanced degree.
  • Relevant work experience in an executive communications role.
  • Relevant work experience in higher education or equivalent setting.
  • Background in science or public policy, or other field relevant to the work of the VPDoR.

  • Constantly perform desk-based computer tasks.
  • Frequently sitting.
  • Occasionally stand/walk, reach/work above shoulders, use a telephone, writing by hand, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh up to 10 pounds.
  • Rarely twist/bend/stoop/squat, sort/file paperwork or parts, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh 11-20 pounds.

  • Occasionally work evenings and weekends.

  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates the ability to work well with Stanford colleagues and clients and with external organizations.
  • Promote Culture of Safety: Demonstrates commitment to personal responsibility and value for safety; communicates safety concerns; uses and promotes safe behaviors based on training and lessons learned.
  • Subject to and expected to comply with all applicable University policies and procedures, including but not limited to the personnel policies and other policies found in the University's Administrative Guide,


We believe Stanford's future success will be shaped by the diverse perspectives, unique experiences, and inclusive culture of its community.

The job duties listed are typical examples of work performed by positions in this job classification and are not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Specific duties and responsibilities may vary depending on department or program needs without changing the general nature and scope of the job or level of responsibility. Employees may also perform other duties as assigned.

Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of his or her job.

Stanford is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.
Additional Information
  • Schedule: Full-time
  • Job Code: 4266
  • Employee Status: Regular
  • Grade: L
  • Requisition ID: 89626


Location: Office of External Relations, Stanford, California, United States
Classification Level:

To be considered for this position please visit our web site and apply on line at the following link:

Stanford is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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Job No:
Posted: 5/27/2021
Application Due: 5/27/2033
Work Type: Full Time