Position Description

Colorado State University Administration Building on the Oval on a summer morning

The Position

Colorado State University invites applications and nominations for the position of Vice President (VP), University Communications. This position reports directly to the President and is a member of the executive leadership team. As the chief strategic communications officer, the VP works in concert with the president and members of the university community to strengthen the university’s reputation as an internationally recognized land-grant institution of higher education with the highest Carnegie ranking (Doctoral University: Very High Research Activity). The VP will work closely with the President to establish the strategic direction of the division and to develop comprehensive, innovative solutions to align the unit structure in support of said strategy. The VP also leads the development of an internal communication strategy for executive leadership and oversees internal communications that are strategic. The VP oversees more than 80 staff members, that currently includes media and public relations, social and digital media, creative services, photography, video production services, web design and development, strategic initiatives and partnerships, community outreach and engagement, operations, and print services.

Please note: The Vice President for University Communications at CSU will lead the division of University Communications formerly called External Relations and currently led by an Interim Vice President for External Relations.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Responsible for the planning, coordination, and management of the University’s public relations and strategic communications efforts to communicate effectively the University’s mission to its varied constituencies while ensuring overall continuity of University messaging and image.
  • Analyzes and utilizes market research on audience, platform, and delivery methods to optimize effectiveness.
  • Manages robust marketing and communication plans across traditional, social, digital and emerging media.
  • Leads all major marketing campaigns for the University and collaborates with units responsible for undergraduate and graduate recruitment and retention, donor and alumni relations, and other external messaging and marketing.
  • Serves as lead advisor for media relations efforts and crisis communications management on issues that impact CSU and its key constituency groups.
  • Coordinates relevant marketing and media efforts with the CSU systems office, and serves as an advocate for the Fort Collins campus in the context of the system.
  • Key communications advisor for the President and other CSU administrators, colleges, and units.
  • Supervises the University Communications integrated marketing units.
  • Provides leadership to staff for division-wide goals and strategies that best articulate CSU’s critical contributions to society.
  • Provides strategic direction, ideas, and support to academic and administrative unit’s communication professionals.
  • Builds effective relationships with all CSU divisions. Collaborates across departmental and divisional boundaries with all Academic Deans, Vice Presidents, and their respective communications professionals, on short-term and long-term strategic communications and engagement efforts. Integrates, refines, and coordinates institutional internal and external communications, public and media relations strategies and approaches, with a focus on tangible outcomes and enhanced regional, national and international institutional presence.

Organizational Chart of the Division

A sunny blue-sky winter day on the Colorado State University campus.

Specific areas of partnership will include but not be limited to:

  • Vice President of Advancement:
    • to lead and support external affairs activities in the Denver market and to effectively engage University’s alumni in support of institutional priorities.
  • Vice President for Engagement and Director of Extension:
    • to lead and support statewide community relations and public relations outreach statewide.
  • Vice President for Enrollment and Access:
    • to strengthen and refine communications strategies related to student recruitment and retention, fully engaging academic units, communications/marketing efforts, and support services across the institution in implementing effective, comprehensive, enrollment-management strategies designed to meet university goals.
  • Vice President for Diversity:
    • to assure a campus environment that demonstrates and fosters diversity and inclusion, broadly defined, where all members of the community are welcomed, valued, and affirmed, and to promote both short-term and long-term actions at the individual and institutional levels to do so, with an emphasis on systemic efforts that will effect demonstrable, permanent change.
  • Vice President for Research:
    • to advance the University’s reputation and interests with government and foundation funders.
  • Athletics:
    • to build institutional brand presence and reputation through broad-reaching marketing, engagement and public relation activities.
  • CSU System staff:
    • to advance the University’s legislative agenda in Colorado.
Colorado State University Men's Basketball vs. Wyoming State

Education & Qualifications

The successful candidate must possess the following qualifications and abilities:

  • The successful candidate will be an energetic, engaged, collaborative, and decisive advocate on behalf of CSU’s land-grant mission as a leading institution of higher education and research.
  • A bachelor’s degree is required with relevant experience; a master’s degree is strongly preferred.
  • A demonstrated commitment to excellence, the ability to work constructively and collaboratively with multiple constituencies and a proven ability to translate ideas and visions into action.
  • A commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as a demonstrated understanding of the complexities of communicating to a diverse and multicultural community.
  • Must have management-level experience leading and interfacing with others in a large, diverse, and complex organization.
  • Experience must demonstrate an ability to lead change via effective communication, collaboration with stakeholders, dedication, vision, flexibility and decisiveness.
  • Must demonstrate objective evidence of excellence and achievement in brand strategy and execution, marketing, communications and media relations, and be committed to connecting to higher education networks at a national level.
President Joyce McConnell with Graduates

Additional desired skills and abilities:

  • Understanding of the dynamics between a large flagship campus and a system office with inevitable overlap is also desired.
  • Commitment to effective, inclusive, and collaborative leadership.
  • Capacity to formulate and articulate a shared vision, to persuade a wide range of audiences of its value, and to engage others in its implementation.
  • Appreciation of the value of all disciplines at CSU and an ability to ascertain and recognize excellence in each.
  • Deep understanding and appreciation of shared governance between faculty and administration.
  • An understanding and appreciation of city and state governance.
  • Capacity to motivate and inspire others to strive continuously for excellence.
  • Experience working across disciplines within an organization.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Ability to set priorities, plan to achieve and effectively implement them and to effectively communicate with multiple constituencies to implement these priorities.

About the Division of University Communications

The Division of University Communications, formerly called External Relations, is the strategic hub for campus communications, both internal and external. They bring the image and brand of Colorado State University to life and tell the stories of how its faculty, staff, students and alumni are changing the world.

  • The division employs more than 80 staff members from diverse professional backgrounds, each bringing unique and innovative perspectives of creativity to showcase the successes of Colorado State University with our internal and external communities, alumni, donors, partners and friends.
  • The division provides central marketing, strategic internal and external communications, issues and crisis management, media relations, community outreach, design, videography and photography services, website development, and digital and social media creation to build a strong, compelling and effective brand position for the entire University, its colleges and all units.

University Communications Recognitions

The staff’s collective expertise and ambitions have earned the division dozens of awards in recent years. The Division of University Communications team was named Public Relations Team of the Year in 2016 by the Colorado Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Among the 48 awards they have received since 2016 for design, video, PR and social media work, they received the following gold-level recognitions in 2017-19:

Deep Dive from Summer State Magazine

CASE/District VI – Institutional Awards for 2019

GOLD Winner in the “Design: Periodicals” category: State Magazine – Summer 2019

GOLD Winner in the “News Writing – General News Writing” category: “Colorado State University’s Excellence in General News Writing”

GOLD Winner in the “News Writing – Research, Medicine, and Science News Writing” category: “Colorado State University’s Excellence in Research, Medicine and Science News Writing”

GOLD winner in the News Writing –  Periodical Staff Writing category: “Feature Stories – Colorado State Magazine”

GOLD winner in the 12c. Writing: News Writing – Periodical Staff Writing category: “Feature Stories – State Magazine”

CSU Magazine cover, Military Intelligence
  • GOLD winner in the Editorial Design category – “Military Intelligence”
  • GOLD winner in the Editorial Design category – “Learning en Pointe”
  • SILVER winner in the Editorial Design category – “Heart Doc at High Altitude”
  • BRONZE winner in the Editorial Design category – “Deep Dive”

CASE/District VI – Council on Advancement and Support of Education 2018

Grand Gold CASE Award: “Project Green Up”: Special Events Multi-day, included campus banner program, Ram Walk, stadium environmental graphics, Stadium Sessions branding, and CSU Chalk Festival in collaboration with the Downtown Business Association.

PRSA: Public Relations Society of America/Colorado Chapter 2018

Gold Pick:

  • Thumbs Up for Colorado State University’s Facebook Page: Facebook engagement
  • “Kevin’s Walk”: Best Use of Social Stories
  • “Surprising Students and Professors with Puppies During Finals Week”: Best Use of Social Stories
  • “Sights and Sounds of Opening Day at the new on-campus Stadium”: Online videos

CASE/District VI: Council on Advancement and Support of Education 2017

Gold Grand Award: State Your Purpose, Fundraising comprehensive campaign


  • How a Place Matters: documentary/advocacy campaign
  • Bison: Preserving an Icon: public relations project
  • CSU Home Page: complete institutional website
  • Day of Giving/Love Your State: annual/regular giving program

PRSA: Public Relations Society of America/Colorado Chapter 2017

Gold Pick: Anticipatory Stress of After-Hours Email Exhausting Employees: media relations

Colorado State University plays the 2018 Border War football game vs Wyoming at Canvas Stadium.

University Communications Points of Pride

  • Resourceful, highly-skilled staff with combined years of experience that aid in development of positive campus and community relationships.
  • Strong, seasoned leadership team (4-member executive team and 6-member directors’ team) committed to cultivating a positive culture and quality of work life for the division’s staff.
  • Robust Internal Communications program offering strategic communications support and consulting to numerous groups, initiatives, committees, units, and to monitor/stay ahead of internal issues.
  • High level of expertise in issues and crisis communications management.
  • High level of design execution and project management expertise across multiple teams.
  • Reorganization efforts designed to improve cultures, equity, and create paths for advancement and professional growth.
  • Proven ability to manage complex and ambiguous projects.
  • Exceptional level of sophistication in branding and brand strategy.
  • Serving as a bridge and common touchpoint within a large, decentralized organization.
  • Integrated campus-wide communication model that connects University Communications with college and divisional teams to ensure shared mission and goals relating to branding, messaging, and storytelling on behalf of CSU and each unit.
  • Growing in its diversity, the University Communications team includes staff with a cross-section of backgrounds, experience, age, gender, race, and self-identified orientation.
  • Broadly knowledgeable, the University Communications team includes members from a multitude of professional platforms and opportunities with a balance of institutional knowledge, industry expertise and energy.
  • Demonstrated value by partners – internally and externally.
Colorado State University celebrates 2019 Homecoming with fireworks.

University Communications Division Portfolio

The Public Relations team works with other University Communications content providers (e.g. videography, photography, social media and others) to manage and produce content for CSU’s branded online news and information hub: SOURCE. The site includes the latest headlines from across the University, its eight colleges and all divisions. SOURCE features stories on research and innovation, student success, awards and announcements, partnerships and initiatives, rankings and accolades, and news and features about the extended Ram Family. It also is the host site for other University Communications online publications such as CSU Magazine, CSU Life for faculty and staff, AlumLine, State (the new CSU System magazine) and college SOURCE pages.

SOURCE’s reach from Jan. 1, 2017 – Dec. 31, 2018:

  • Users: 1.4+ Million.
  • Unique Pageviews: 2.7+ Million.
  • Sessions: 2.1+ Million.

Colorado State University Magazine and STATE Magazine
In coordination with the President’s Office, University Communications oversees production, publication, and distribution (print, online and social media) of CSU Magazine for CSU-Fort Collins alumni and donors, and STATE, the magazine of the three-campus CSU System. CSU Magazine has a reach of approximately 240,000 and STATE has a reach of more than 200,000.

Social Media

The Social and Digital Media team manages the University’s flagship Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest and Flickr accounts.
Social media is one of the key strategic marketing and communication tools Colorado State University leverages to engage with current and prospective students, alumni, parents and families, donors, fans and friends from all around the world.

The division’s Social and Digital Media team determines the strategic direction for social media at Colorado State by setting and overseeing policy, managing the central institutional social media accounts (550,000+ fans worldwide), and consulting with decentralized communications staff who manage their unit’s social networks (nearly 400 units on campus use social media). The team’s blog, “Social,” has several hundred subscribers and is a social and digital media resource for the campus community and professionals around the nation.

Over the years, the CSU social team has been recognized as one of the best social media teams both in higher education and within the digital marketing industry at large. Accolades include a 2015 Webby Award (international industry award honoring the best of the Web) for the team’s work with Dr. Temple Grandin and a 2018 Shorty Award (international industry award honoring the best of social media) for a commencement piece that went viral, “Kevin’s Walk.” This video reached 5.1 million people and generated 1.6 million views and 121,518 reactions, comments and shares. In 2018, the team was voted by higher education industry peers as one of the top higher education social media teams in the country.

Followers: 160,500+ Average Monthly Reach: 584,513 Average Reach Per Post: 35,472.

Followers: 60,274 Average Monthly Impressions: 957,233.

Followers: 71,290 Average Monthly Impressions: 1,931,502.

team social icons

The Conversation and CSU 
The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit publisher of commentary and analysis, authored by academics and edited by journalists for the general public. Written by university scholars and researchers, edited by journalists for general public; free to read and republish – leading outlets that regularly republish include Newsweek, Business Insider, Bloomberg, New Republic, Scientific American, LA Times and Chicago Tribune.

Since June 2016, Colorado State University has been a participating institution with The Conversation, providing an international platform for distribution of our faculty’s research to a general audience.

In that time, 90 CSU faculty have authored 14 articles, which have reached 4.4 million readers around the world. CSU’s top 10 articles each have attracted an average audience of more than 170,000 readers, on platforms ranging from Salon to Scientific American as well as countless local and national news outlets.

About the University

Colorado State University (CSU) is one of the nation’s top public research universities and an institution on the rise.

In the past decade, CSU has produced record enrollment, built on all-time highs in student diversity and student success; outpaced ambitious record fundraising goals; produced groundbreaking research driven by a highly productive faculty; offered a campus revitalized by a transformational building campaign; and, perhaps most important, provided an unrivaled learning environment.

CSU currently offers 76 undergraduate degree programs and 118 graduate degree programs, and has made significant investments in student recruitment, financial aid, student services, and retention.

A Tradition of Access
CSU has a proud tradition of providing access to a high-quality, affordable higher education for all who have the desire and ability to embrace it.

Student Success
Nine of 10 recent graduates say they would choose CSU again and rate the education received here as excellent. It remains the “university of choice” for Colorado residents: More Colorado high-school students choose CSU than any other institution of higher education in the state.

More than 5,000 CSU students participate in undergraduate research opportunities every year, and even as CSU has grown, we’ve kept our student: faculty ratio at 18:1.

Class of 2023 CSU

Within six months of graduation, 84 percent of students have secured employment or continuing education – and 89 percent of graduates say they would choose CSU again.

Faculty at CSU are among the best in their fields and offer students classroom learning combined with experiential learning in the field and laboratory. CSU educates students both to make a living and to make a difference – and faculty transform the world through their research, scholarship, engagement, and teaching.

Colorado State University is celebrating its sesquicentennial during the 2019-20 academic year. It was founded as the Agricultural College of Colorado in 1870, six years before the Colorado Territory was granted statehood. It became one of 68 land-grant colleges established by President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Morrill Act.

CSU Today
Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the CSU System’s flagship campus, is on a trajectory of growth and momentum, with a student body exceeding 34,000 students, 7,000 employees, and, as a Carnegie 1 Research Institution, has annual research expenditures exceeding $350 million.

The last five years has been the most successful fundraising era in the university’s history, recently completing a $1B campaign, more than a year ahead of schedule.

The University has invested more than $1.5B in physical infrastructure over the last decade, transforming it into one of the most beautiful, state-of-the-art, campuses in the country.

CSU is home to several world leading research centers and programs, including the veterinary medicine program ranked among the top three in the nation and some of the world’s most prestigious programs in animal cancer research, atmospheric sciences, alternative energy solutions, and infectious disease.

CSU is a member of the NCAA at the Division 1 level, Mountain West Conference, with 16 collegiate sports programs.

Colorado State University Mission
Inspired by its land-grant heritage, CSU is committed to excellence, setting the standard for public research universities in teaching, research, service, and extension for the benefit of the citizens of Colorado, the United States, and the world.

Fort Collins CO

About The Colorado State University System

The Colorado State University System exists to support, enhance, and protect the unique missions of its constituent institutions and to encourage collaboration that benefits students and Colorado.

The Colorado State University System will create the financial sustainability to fulfill its mission, while expanding its statewide presence and creating opportunities for building a stronger future for Colorado.

Core values
The Colorado State University System embraces these values as they fulfill their commitment to building a stronger Colorado:

  • An entrepreneurial attitude, while consistently demonstrating fiscal responsibility and resourcefulness.
  • A passion for excellence and a commitment to continuous quality improvement.
  • A willingness to collaborate and work with others in an environment of respect and trust.
  • A commitment to open communication, ethical conduct and full accountability.
  • A loyalty to the mission, with a specific emphasis on meeting student needs.
  • An appreciation for and commitment to diversity and inclusion.


Colorado State University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) since 1925. Institutional accreditation by the HLC, also known as regional accreditation, provides assurance to prospective students and other constituents that course credits and degrees earned from the institution meet quality standards of higher education. Accreditation is a requirement for federal financial aid and may be a requirement for some employment opportunities, professional licensure, and graduate education.

Accredited: Higher Learning Commission

About Fort Collins, Colorado

Colorado State University is located 60 miles north of Denver in the city of Fort Collins, situated on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains with the foothills and 14,000-foot peaks visible to residents. Fort Collins is an active community. Easy access to hiking, skiing, rafting and other outdoor sports is a great advantage to CSU students, faculty and staff. With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year and low humidity, Fort Collins residents enjoy pleasant weather year-round.  Indoor and outdoor activities are enjoyable in every season.

Colorado has earned a worldwide reputation as an area that offers an unparalleled lifestyle, and Fort Collins represents the very best of Colorado with top award rankings from Forbes for Best Place for Business/Careers, Gallup Well Being Index for Healthiest Mid-Size City in America, CBS Moneywatch List of Top 10 Best Places to Retire, Outside Magazine Best Towns in America, among other select recognitions.

Horsetooth Reservoir, July 2019

Fort Collins is a community that blends education and industry, hard work and recreation, tradition and progress. If you’re looking for a college experience with the perfect fusion of adventure and opportunity, Fort Collins is where you’ll find it.

You’ll get a taste of all four seasons in Fort Collins, including winters with enough snow for a snowshoeing trip in the foothills but typically mild temperatures.

Nomination and Application Process


The salary is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.

How to Apply

Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. is assisting Colorado State University in this search. For consideration, all applications must be submitted through Greenwood/Asher. Submission of application materials as PDF attachments is strongly encouraged. Initial screening of applications will begin immediately, and applications and nominations will be accepted until an appointment is made; however, the priority consideration date is February 28, 2020.

Confidential inquiries, nominations and application materials (a letter of interest articulating qualifications and vision; a current cv or resume; contact information for 5 professional references) should be directed to:

Jan Greenwood, President & Partner
Lois Stetson, Executive Search Consultant
Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.
42 Business Centre Drive, Suite 206
Miramar Beach, Florida 32550
Phone: 850-650-2277 / Fax: 850-650-2272
Email: jangreenwood@greenwoodsearch.com
Email: loisstetson@greenwoodsearch.com

Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.

For more information on Colorado State University, please visit about.colostate.edu/

This position is subject to a criminal background check.

Colorado State University strives to provide a safe study, work, and living environment for its faculty, staff, volunteers and students. To support this environment and comply with applicable laws and regulations, CSU conducts background checks. The type of background check conducted varies by position and can include, but is not limited to, criminal history, sex offender registry, motor vehicle history, financial history, and/or education verification. Background checks will also be conducted when required by law or contract and when, in the discretion of the University, it is reasonable and prudent to do so.

 Colorado State University is committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment based on race, age, creed, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or pregnancy and will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. Colorado State University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce and complies with all Federal and Colorado State laws, regulations, and executive orders regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action. The Office of Equal Opportunity is located in 101 Student Services.

 The Acting Title IX Coordinator is the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, 201 Administration Building, Fort Collins, CO. 80523-8004, (970) 491-5312.

The Section 504 and ADA Coordinator is the Associate Vice President for Human Capital, Office of Equal Opportunity, 101 Student Services Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523-0160, (970) 491-5836.