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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.

Job Summary

The Department of Aerospace Engineering (Aero) seeks an experienced, full-time Strategic Initiatives Manager to provide high level support to the Aero Chair regarding department strategic initiatives, as well as lead the communication activities of the department. This position works closely under the direction of the Chair to develop and implement activities, events, projects, programs, and communication plans for advancing the Department’s strategic mission and responding to a multitude of issues facing the Aero Department. Areas of focus include, but are not limited to, alumni and IAB member relations and engagement; department national and global reputation and visibility; degree program rankings and demographic makeup; the student experience; fundraising; multi-disciplinary, research, and industry partnerships and collaborations; and department DEI and climate. 

An ideal candidate will have exceptional project management and communication skills, be innovative, collaborative, pragmatic, highly organized and accurate, skilled at building and nurturing professional partnerships, adept at utilizing data systems and technology, self-directed, dependable, have a strong work ethic and flexible working style. They will have both a big picture perspective and ability to apply analytical, problem-solving, and organization skills to excel in managing the day-to-day details and responsibilities of the position.  They will need to interact and work effectively with students (ranging from freshman undergraduates to PhD students), Aero faculty and staff, other departments in the College of Engineering (CoE) and the University, as well as outside organizations of interest to the Department.

Mission Statement

Michigan Engineering’s vision is to be the world’s preeminent college of engineering serving the common good. This global outlook, leadership focus, and service commitment permeate our culture. Our vision is supported by a mission and values that, together, provide the framework for all that we do. Information about our vision, mission, and values can be found at:

The University of Michigan has a storied legacy of commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The Michigan Engineering component of the University’s comprehensive, five-year, DEI strategic plan—along with updates on our programs and resources dedicated to ensuring a welcoming, fair and inclusive environment—can be found at:

Who We Are

The University of Michigan’s Department of Aerospace Engineering is the first collegiate aeronautics program in the United States—started in 1914, with more than 6,000 aerospace engineers who graduated over the past 100 years. It currently has 18 staff members, 29 tenured and tenure-track faculty members, and approximately 354 undergraduate and 182 graduate students.

The Department of Aerospace Engineering is committed to: excellence, leadership, and collaboration in research and education; to service-based leadership at the Institute, national, and international levels; to a passion for air and space vehicles and systems, the technologies that enable them, and the missions they fulfill; and finally to the personal and professional development of its faculty, staff, and students.


Support for Chair’s Strategic Initiatives – 50%

  • Provide project/program management, from inception to evaluation, of the Chair’s strategic initiatives as they relate to DEI, outreach, student recruitment, alumni-student engagement programs and others as assigned.

  • Provide administrative management of various College required processes and activities that have strategic implications for the Department (Examples: the 5-year internal and external review and the annual strategic budget meeting). Ensure compliance with all College and University guidelines and procedures for these activities. Maintain systematic follow-up processes to ensure that deadlines are met and that information or material required from other offices is received on a timely basis.

  • Facilitate strategic planning meetings and pre- and post-work activities of various department stakeholders such as faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, IAB members, alumni, internal and external partners, etc., including coordination of agendas and minutes, and assistance in preparing and reviewing materials for discussion. In coordination with the Assistant to the Chair, manage and monitor all small to large scale meeting logistics, including establishing timelines, invitations, accommodations, room set-up and AV needs, catering, etc.

  • Perform research and data analyses in support of strategic initiatives; prepare, edit, and present charges, reports, summaries, presentations, and correspondence related to project work for management review utilizing tools such as PowerPoint, Google Docs, Excel, and other resources as identified.

  • Develop and propose to the Chair program content, activities, agendas consistent with the strategic purpose and spirit of activities and events.

  • Propose timely and reasonable event and project budgets to the Department Administrator for approval. Adhere to spending limits and policies.

  • Other duties as assigned

Communications & Marketing – 40%

  • Strategically manage the content and platform of all department communications. Work in collaboration with the Aero Senior Writer and Multimedia Designer to identify original stories for websites and newsletters; plan, prepare and disseminate publicity and good-will information concerning the Department through print, audio and visual communication media; and manage online promotional efforts including content creation for multiple platforms including websites and social media channels (FB, TW, IG, YT, Flickr).  

  • Lead the process for conceptualizing and producing the Department’s annual report, Boundless. Propose and implement new ideas to increase dissemination and readership. 

  • Serve as the liaison to the CoE Office of Communications & Marketing (C&M). Keep the Chair and Department Administrator appropriately and timely informed of important news and events that have the potential to impact the Department and its stakeholders. Provide guidance and formulate effective strategic communication plans as needed.

  • Participate in and contribute to setting agendas for Department Impact meetings with the C&M Communications and Media Relations Team and the Director of Leadership Engagement. Follow through with communication plans and tasks that arise from these meetings.

  • Solicit and coordinate work for photographers and videographers for student activities, special events, seminars, and faculty interviews for educational purposes and to promote the Department. Collect consent forms from speakers if/when photography or videotaping is used. 

  • Hire and supervise student writers as needed.

  • Assist with the planning and implementation of permanent and temporary special exhibits in department spaces.

  • Other duties as assigned

Public Relations (10%)

  • Coordinate alumni and donor activities with the CoE Development and Advancement Offices with strategies to increase participation and deepen relationships and engagement. Serve as the Department point-of-contact for alumni and donors.

  • Initiate and perform assignments in specialized areas of public relations activities such as press, radio, TV relations, community, and industry relations. 

  • Provide guidance to the Chair on crisis communication plans. Coordinate Aero communication content and timing with the CoE and University.

  • Other duties as assigned

Required Qualifications*

  • Bachelor's degree

  • Minimum 3 years of experience providing high-level support and/or project coordination in an academic setting

  • Some professional work experience in marketing, public relations, communications, or a related professional area creating and managing marketing and communication efforts within an organization

  • Demonstrated understanding of effective communication principles, and exceptional verbal and written communication skills

  • Excellent interpersonal skills and experience working effectively and collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders (ex: students, faculty, staff, donors, alumni, members of internal and external communities, etc.)

  • Strong attention to detail and accuracy, and impeccable organizational skills

  • Demonstrated success in working in a fast-paced environment that requires flexibility and adaptability. Able to handle and be comfortable with ambiguity.

  • Demonstrated ability to work independently, exercise strategic and critical thinking, and make sound judgments

  • Demonstrated ability to exercise appropriate discretion and confidentiality when dealing with sensitive information

  • Experience in exercising initiative within bounds of standard organizational practices and policies

  • Demonstrated awareness and implementation of best practices in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion principles, and working with diverse groups of people

  • Demonstrated ability to establish and adhere to reasonable project budgets

  • Demonstrated ability to set priorities and successfully handle multiple assignments and deadlines

  • High proficiency with computer technology including the MS suite and Adobe programs, Google Docs, and website and social media platforms

Desired Qualifications*

  • 3+ years of experience in public relations, communications, and marketing including developing and executing strategic plans/campaigns 

  • Experience providing high level support to an upper level manager/executive in a higher educational setting

  • Experience interacting and working effectively with diverse groups in a higher education setting,  including freshman students, graduate students, staff and faculty

  • Knowledge of U-M systems, environment, policies and procedures

Additional Information

Some evening and weekend work, as well as travel to off-site/out-of-town events such as the annual Sci-Tech alumni reception may be required.

This position will have the option for a hybrid work schedule (some time in the office and some time remote).

Background Screening

The University of Michigan conducts background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer and may use a third party administrator to conduct background checks.  Background checks are performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days. The application review process will be done on a rolling basis so applicants are encouraged to apply early. 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.