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How to Apply

A cover letter is required for consideration for this position and must be attached as the first page of your resume. The letter should address: 1) your specific interest in and outline skills and experience that directly relate to this position, 2) how you have ensured others are successful or how you help others be at their best, and 3) your experience in supporting a positive organizational culture. A writing sample that demonstrates excellent written communication skills and an attention to detail is required. The writing sample should not exceed two pages. Please submit contact information (phone and email) for 3-5 professional references. Please submit your cover letter, resume, writing sample, and references as a single electronic document. Applicants who do not meet these requirements will not be considered.

Job Summary

The Horace H. Rackham Graduate School is the home of graduate education at the University of Michigan. More than 8,300 students are enrolled in Rackham's 111 Ph.D., 100 masters, and 38 certificate programs situated within the schools and colleges of the University of Michigan. The Rackham community of scholars, researchers, students, and staff is engaged in the creation of new knowledge, innovative discoveries, and in the formation of our future leaders. The School is an international leader in the development of best practices for graduate education. Further, Rackham is strongly committed to diversity and inclusion as a means of achieving and sustaining excellence.

The Director of Communications is a member of Rackham’s leadership teams, and plays a key role in providing oversight in advancing the School’s mission by setting strategic direction and managing all aspects of our communications program. The Director of Communications provides communications support for the Dean, Associate and Assistant Deans, and is the point person on issues management and crisis communications. The Director of Communications partners with colleagues throughout the School to develop, implement, and evaluate communication efforts. S/he is responsible for the School’s messaging and engagement with internal and external constituents, utilizing communication vehicles such as the web, social media, email print, video and others as appropriate. S/he will serve as liaison across campus and with external communications vendors. The Director will work closely with the dean’s office, the development office, admissions office, and the graduate student program office to assist in achieving their goals.

We are looking for a Director who shares our passion for the School’s mission, brings creativity, spontaneity, strategic planning, day-to-day management, and knowledge of local, regional, national, and international venues for highlighting our work.

Rackham is committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and encourages all employees to fully incorporate their diverse backgrounds, skills, and life experiences into their work and towards the fulfillment of the School's mission.

NOTE: May require on-call availability or working during non-business hours and on weekends.


Job responsibilities include but are not limited to:

Strategic Plan Implementation

  • Coordinate and write high level communications for the Dean for both internal and external audiences.
  • Anticipate and mitigate adverse or potentially negative issues that may impact the School’s reputation; maintaining issues management and crisis communications plans and providing counsel to senior leaders in the event of a crisis.
  • Develop communications strategies that leverage both traditional and new media to target the School’s multiple constituencies with a particular focus on prospective and current students, academic programs, alumni, and donors.
  • Develop guidelines and best practices related to the School’s communications related activity and content.
  • Collaborate across units in Rackham and across the University to advance the strategic communications goals of the School.
  • Develop and implement communications and media strategies that successfully deliver information and are targeted to Rackham’s various audiences.
  • Develop and maintain a strong and productive relationship with both print and electronic media. Ensure the organization is understood by the media and the media are interested in presenting information to the public in a manner that informs and educates them on the organization.
  • Research, advise and consult using multiple data sources to identify market segments, launch strategies for targeted communications, monitor and improve the effectiveness and productivity of market and communication strategies. Keep abreast of changing demographics and other relevant issues in order to evaluate communication activities and to monitor emerging issues.
  • Working with Rackham’s Information Technology team develop and regularly report on a set of metrics for measuring the effectiveness of Rackham’s communication program.
  • Keep abreast of trends in higher education communications.

Communications Planning and Strategy

  • In consultation with the Dean, lead the implementation of concurrent, interdependent short-, medium- and long-term plans to build a robust, responsive, broad-based communications program. This plan will be developed in the context of the School’s strategic and operating plans and will be directed at supporting the objectives established in those plans. This plan would include both internal and external audiences.
  • Coordinate and manage digital marketing communications such as e-mail and social media campaigns and print advertising to ensure excellence and professionalism in the delivery of consistently branded, accurate and timely information.
  • Maximize the digital and social media as a primary communications tool and channel. Monitor web content changes and requests by overseeing content and graphic changes and helping with multimedia updates including work on the home page headlines, calendar of events, and various additional webpages.
  • Oversee the development and production of print and digital communication, including feature stories, news releases, select web pages, social media, and promotional videos. Ensure consistently high-quality output with a consistent look and feel.
  • Post and/or monitor posting on various platforms on a daily basis.
  • Foster a culture that thrives on gathering and interpreting data analytics to help make informed decisions. Use data and searchable analytics to strategically think about content, platforms, audiences, time and user experience.
  • Represent Rackham within the University of Michigan communications community; foster partnerships and align objectives with other schools and colleges, and the University’s Office of the Vice President of Communications.
  • Develop a marketing strategy, in consultation with the Dean, that effectively markets the School and educates the public in terms of visibility and reputation. This strategy should also support the organization's fundraising efforts.

Administrative Leadership

  • Make decisions relative to the selection, promotion, utilization, retention, and compensation of Communications staff in consultation with the Rackham HR Administrator and Rackham Chief of Staff.
  • Provide strong, effective and highly visible leadership to the Communications team in order to capitalize on the full potential of this most critical resource. Ensure that all employees are stimulated, motivated and guided to contribute fully to the realization of the Schools’ mission, vision, goals and objectives. Empower employees to identify innovative approaches to enhance organizational performance.
  • Recommend changes in procedures that will improve the effective operation of the team. Interpret and apply organizational policy.
  • Manage the development and maintenance of the unit's operating budget

Required Qualifications*

Bachelor’s degree in journalism, english, communications, public relations, or a related field. Minimum of 7 to 10 years of progressively responsible experience in marketing and communications.

Demonstrated experience developing and implementing comprehensive communication strategies with multiple media vehicles including print, web, video, promotional events and social media to reach and engage target audiences. A deep understanding of public and media relations, crisis communication, branding and the ability to apply that knowledge within a collaborative team.

Exceptional oral communication, writing, editing and message development skills, ability to recognize need for and ability to easily change writing styles to fit the audience and voice of the piece. Experience writing and editing web content. Experienced at persuasive writing and articulating a strong case. Strong interpersonal and project management skills and ability to lead a team effort to produce high-quality work on a deadline. Skill at both long-form content creation and real-time (immediate) content creation and knowledge distribution strategies and tactics. Capability for efficiently managing multiple, diverse projects and priorities simultaneously and for creating and directing innovative work under tight deadlines.

Must have excellent judgment with a professional demeanor and presentation. Excellent collaboration skills and proven ability to communicate and work effectively with diverse constituents and colleagues. Proven success in operating within higher education or complex organizations and to relate with and understand constituents outside the immediate unit.

In-depth knowledge of the digital and social landscapes. Must demonstrate creativity and familiarity with a variety of marketing and communication concepts, practices and procedures. Confidence and familiarity working with graphic design technologies (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop). Command of current social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) and digital collaboration tools. Working knowledge of web design and development across a variety of platforms (e.g., Drupal, WordPress, HTML etc.) with experience driving content creation, improvements and analytics. Advanced skill level with Microsoft Office products and Google tools/resources. Commitment to and experience with ongoing assessment of results/outcomes of various marketing and communication strategies and tactics

Supervisory experience with a professional staff and the ability to manage performance and strategy. Strong interpersonal skills and team leadership skills are required.

Experience motivating staff toward a high level of performance and professionalism.

Understands and values diversity and the importance of inclusion as demonstrated through a commitment to apply and incorporate the differences, complexities, and opportunities that diversity brings to an organization.

Desired Qualifications*

Master’s degree in communications, business, english, or a related field. Professional experience in higher education. An appreciation for a rigorous academic, student-centered and inclusive environment, coupled with a familiarity with the complexities and politics of the university setting. Familiarity with University of Michigan structure, resources, and policies.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days.  This job may be removed from posting boards and filled any time after the minimum posting period has ended. This position will be posted until filled.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.