How to Apply
A cover letter is required for consideration for this position and should be attached as the first page of your resume. The cover letter should address your specific interest in the position and outline skills and experience that directly relate to this position.
For fullest consideration, candidates should submit materials by Sunday, September 6, 2020. Applicants with questions can reach out to input-VPGRsearch@umich.edu.
The University of Michigan (U-M), one of the world’s preeminent research universities, is seeking its next vice president for government relations (VPGR).
Now operating in the beginning of its third century, U-M continues its mission to serve the public through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving, and applying knowledge, art, and academic values. Currently, the main campus in Ann Arbor has an enrollment of 48,000 students, about a third of whom are in graduate and professional studies. U-M is consistently ranked among the top institutions of higher education globally with 280 degree programs and 102 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 nationally.
The VPGR is a position of broad leadership for U-M, serving as an executive officer reporting to the university’s president. As the chief government relations official of the university, this position is responsible for providing strategic vision, leadership, and effective management of U-M’s Government Relations programs at the local, state, and federal levels.
Who We Are
The U-M Office of Government Relations directs the university’s government interactions at the local, state, and federal levels. This includes planning and developing the institution’s response to proposed legislation; analyzing and assessing legislative, administrative, and regulatory activities as they pertain to university programs, activities, and operations; and developing and maintaining effective relationships with governmental agencies and officials.
The Office of Government Relations includes the following teams which report to the vice president for government relations:
- Federal Relations: The U-M Washington, DC office monitors federal legislation and administration policies of interest to universities generally and U-M specifically; facilitates congressional and administration meetings and issue briefings for U-M faculty and staff; provides office space for university representatives on business in Washington; and serves as a clearinghouse on government activities, places, people, and employment opportunities. The office serves university faculty, staff, and students, as well as members of Congress and federal government officials and agencies. The office also works closely with higher education associations and coalitions to advance the university’s agenda in Washington.
- State Relations: The U-M State Relations office monitors legislation and administration policies of interest to universities generally and U-M specifically; facilitates legislative and administration meetings and issue briefings for U-M faculty and staff; provides assistance for university representatives on business in Lansing; and serves as a clearinghouse on government activities, places, and people. Legislative inquiries are handled concerning the university’s academic, research, and operations activities and its views on pending legislation. The office serves university faculty, staff, and students, as well as members of the legislature and state government officials and agencies. The office also works closely with the state higher education association and other coalitions to advance the university’s agenda in Lansing.
- Community Relations: The U-M Community Relations office coordinates partnerships of the university with local government and greater Ann Arbor community organizations. The office is a primary point of contact for the City of Ann Arbor and surrounding communities on topics of mutual concern such as parking, transportation, off-campus neighborhoods, facility construction, economic development, tourism, public service, and safety.
- State Outreach: U-M State Outreach personnel provide a direct line of communication between the university and communities statewide. Their goal is to connect U-M resources such as faculty expertise, student projects, unique facilities, research opportunities, and findings to the needs of Michigan communities. To that end, they regularly travel the state to establish and maintain personal contact with community organizations, associations, and local leaders.
The vice president for government relations also oversees the following:
- Economic Growth Institute: Provides innovative economic development programming and applied research to build more resilient businesses and communities, connect university innovations with small- and medium-sized enterprises, and provide student learning experiences for the next generation of community and business leaders.
- University Research Corridor (U-M’s participation in): An alliance between U-M, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University that serves as one of the nation’s top academic research clusters and the leading engine for innovation in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region.
Government Relations staff facilitate faculty meetings and presentations with Congressional, state legislative, and agency representatives in Washington, DC and Lansing, and help to coordinate government official visits to campus.
On the local level, Government Relations personnel are engaged with city and regional entities that are impacted by the physical plant and operations of the university. Community Relations and State Outreach personnel work with local officials and organizations in Southeast Michigan and throughout the state to explore and establish relationships that bring the resources and talents of the university to assist with addressing community interests.
The Office of Government Relations coordinates the annual Michigan Road Scholar tour which takes U-M faculty across Michigan; the Wolverine Caucus which brings university faculty to the State Capitol for public policy briefings; and assists in the management of the annual U-M United Way Campaign.
The vice president for government relations is responsible for providing strategic vision, leadership, and effective management of U-M’s Government Relations programs at the local, state, and federal levels. As an executive officer of the university, the VPGR serves as a member of the president’s executive team. The position reports to the university president, preparing and staffing them in meetings with local, state, and federal officials. The VPGR also works closely with the other executive officers of the university, various governmental agencies, and elected officials. The VPGR oversees the 17 staff members in the Office of Government Relations and an annual budget of approximately $2.4 million.
The VPGR plays a leadership role in advocating on behalf of the university to government decision-makers, and must possess a thorough understanding of the public and external dimensions of the university's work; broad knowledge of the local, state, and national contexts in which the university operates; and a working knowledge of issues from a government relations standpoint.
The VPGR must be adept at navigating complex relationships across political lines and connecting the world-class expertise at the university to policymakers at all levels of government. By facilitating relationships between U-M and external stakeholders, including leaders in government, business, and the community, the VPGR secures state and federal funding for institutional operations including education, capital outlay support, financial aid, and research. The VPGR must also have a strong understanding of additional policies including economic development, immigration, tax, and health care.
Candidates for the vice president for government relations position will possess the following qualifications:
- Extensive background (range of 7-10 years minimum) and advanced first-hand experience in government relations matters at the local, state, and federal levels.
- Previous involvement or familiarity with institutions of higher education, or similarly complex organizations operating on a comparable scale with broad societal impact.
- Demonstrated awareness and ability to proactively seek out and understand emerging issues and policies.
- Proven ability to create and maintain strong working relationships and partnerships with a politically diverse and wide range of leaders in government, business, and education.
- Understanding of and appreciation for the breadth and depth of U-M and its unique role as a leader in the higher education and overall policy landscape, including issues that arise from the global nature of the university’s footprint.
- Ability to work collaboratively with university partners to manage, prioritize, and triage emerging legislative, policy, and regulatory issues in an organized, efficient, and productive way.
- An open and engaging work style with the patience and understanding to work towards consensus and compromise in sometimes difficult or ambiguous circumstances.
- Vision for leveraging the intellectual power of the university to enhance U-M’s local, state, national, and global leadership in a wide array of subject areas
- Bachelor’s degree.
The successful candidate will also possess the following qualities and competencies:
- Personal and professional ethics and integrity to the highest degree.
- Demonstrated understanding of and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Appreciation for and ability to lead effectively within a non-hierarchical, de-centralized, and highly collaborative campus community.
- Good political acumen with a keen sense of how and when to engage the participation of different constituencies and the ability to build productive alliances.
- Skill in working with administrators, faculty, staff, and students in a climate of openness and transparency, integrity, trust, mutual respect, and collaborative problem solving.
- Understanding of and commitment to the academic, research, and service missions of a leading residential public university.
- Outstanding oral and written communications skills with an ability to transform ambiguity into clarity and to articulate campus needs with persuasiveness and conviction; excellent listening skills; and the capacity and willingness to engage in intellectual debate and discussion.
- High degree of energy, initiative, and organization; self-confidence, creativity, and willingness to take risks and to develop and evaluate new programs with knowledge of national best practices, including the ability to use research, data, and assessment to guide decision-making.
- Approachable, optimistic, and intellectually curious with personal warmth, generosity of spirit, a can-do attitude, and strong resilience in the face of criticism.
- Ability to select, develop, motivate, and win the respect and loyalty of faculty and staff through strong mentoring, coaching, and team-building skills with proven success in developing professional staff and creating and leading an effective team.
- Advanced experience applying management and organizational principles, including budgeting, planning, and personnel management.
Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days. The review and selection process may begin as early as the eighth day after posting. This opening may be removed from posting boards and filled anytime after the minimum posting period has ended.
U-M EEO/AA Statement
The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.