University of Alberta

Associate Vice President, Marketing and Communication

VP University Relations

Competition No.  -    A107233811
Closing Date  -    Will remain open until filled.

The University of Alberta is one of Canada’s top teaching and research universities, with an international reputation for excellence across the humanities, sciences, creative arts, business, engineering, and health sciences. Consistently ranked among the top universities in the world –– 94th in the 2015-16 QS Rankings and 31st most international for 2017 according to Times Higher Education –– the University of Alberta is home to nearly 39,000 students from 147 countries and 15,000 faculty and staff.  The University also has more than 260,000 alumni worldwide.  It has an annual budget of more than $1.8 billion and attracts nearly $482 million in sponsored research revenue.  It offers nearly 400 rigorous undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in 18 faculties on five campuses, including one rural and one francophone campus.  The largest of the University of Alberta’s five campuses in Edmonton is situated adjacent to the spectacular North Saskatchewan River Valley and is less than a four-hour drive from the Rocky Mountains. The University is one of Canada’s most highly respected research universities, and respectfully acknowledges that it is located on Treaty 6 Territory, traditional lands of First Nations and Metis people.

University Relations formulates strategies and undertakes initiatives that advance and enhance the University of Alberta’s reputation and relationship with the public and its stakeholders.  The portfolio builds understanding and awareness through storytelling, advocacy, community connections, special events and initiatives, working with colleagues in academic faculties and administrative units, and serving as an ambassador to key stakeholder groups such as students, alumni, faculty, Senate, community groups, and Deans across the five campuses.

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As a key member of the new Vice-President's senior leadership team and one of her four direct reports, the Associate Vice-President: Marketing & Communications is critical to the achievement of the University Relations’ mission and the portfolio’s ability to increasingly focus its efforts and resources on those activities, initiatives, relationships, engagements, and advocacy that will provide the greatest impact.

This is a particularly exciting time in the evolution of the portfolio, and one that offers an incredible opportunity for an insightful, dynamic, and experienced marketing and communications leader who is deeply passionate about taking the institution’s storytelling capabilities to the highest levels of excellence across all platforms on both the communications and marketing fronts.

The successful candidate will be welcomed into an environment that has identified branding and storytelling as a key objective within its strategic plan, For the Public Good –– a plan that was developed based on broad consultation right across the institution. The incumbent will lead the discovery of the institution’s brand platform, expand the portfolio’s marketing capacity and programming, steward the smooth integration of the previously separate digital strategy team into the Marketing & Communications fold, and build upon existing strengths in strategic communications, including issues management, media relations, social media, and brand journalism.

Ultimately, the result of the work of this individual, and the team of professionals he or she leads, will be instrumental in ensuring the U of A “story” is given voice and creating the impressive backdrop against which the efforts of other units to attract students, faculty, staff, and donor support take place.


The Associate Vice-President, Marketing & Communications is responsible for providing vision and leadership in the development and implementation of the University of Alberta's integrated marketing and communications strategies to support and advance institutional reputation.  

The position provides strategic counsel to the Vice-President: University Relations (VPUR), President, and other Vice-Presidents on strategic issues related to communications and marketing.  The incumbent works closely with senior University administration, including other Associate Vice-Presidents, Deans, and Directors to ensure continuity and coordination of key strategic messages and approaches to the University's diverse stakeholders.

The position offers leadership and direction to the Marketing & Communications portfolio. The Associate Vice-President collaborates with the Associate Vice-President, Government & Community Relations to ensure consistency of messages to government, and a government relations perspective to integrated marketing and communications plans. The Associate Vice-President, Marketing & Communications assures that brand and institutional messages are appropriately advanced through the University of Alberta communication channels.  He or she also coordinates with colleagues in other portfolios to assure consistency of institutional brand and message across the institution, and sets the tone for collaboration and teamwork with the decentralized communications and marketing professionals across the institution that comprise the Campus Communicators Network.

The position is one of two Associate Vice-Presidents in the portfolio, and is one of four direct reports to the VPUR:

  • There are currently seven direct report to the Associate Vice-President, Marketing & Communications;
  • The total staff complement for reporting to this position is approximately 35; and,
  • The total budget for the combined operations under this position is approximately $4.3 million.


Providing leadership to the development and implementation of integrated marketing and communications strategies by:

  • Developing and guiding the implementation of an integrated marketing and communications strategy consistent with the University's strategic plan which articulates institutional marketing and communications objectives, key strategic messages, resource implications, etc. across owned, earned and paid platforms;
  • Partnering with senior administration, AVPs, Deans, and Directors to identify opportunities for the University which promote its relationship with key stakeholder groups including government, industry, neighbours, donors, alumni, and others;
  • Ensuring the University's marketing and communications objectives have the strong support of key internal and external stakeholders;
  • Working closely with units internal and external to the portfolio to build a consistent and coordinated message to the University's various communities, and strengthen relationships with the University's traditionally strong alumni base;
  • Increasing capacity and a sense of community among communications and marketing professionals across the university and its many campuses;
  • Working with other colleagues in UR, ensuring availability, reporting and effective use of appropriate research and data (market research; digital analytics related to owned and earned channels, etc.);
  • Working with external partners on joint marketing initiatives as appropriate; and,
  • Building the marketing capacity within the Marketing & Communications portfolio.

Providing leadership and vision to the University's communications activities by:

  • Providing strategic counsel to the VPUR, President and other members of Senior Administration on issues related to communications with various stakeholders;
  • Providing high-level oversight of institutional communications activities, including issues management, media relations, brand journalism, and social media;
  • Ensuring that the University's communications initiatives advance the broader strategic goals of the institution, and that progress towards the achievement of those goals is ongoing and demonstrable;
  • Ensuring the University's accomplishments are effectively and strategically targeted and communicated in the local, national, and international media on a regular basis;
  • Ensuring the development of a robust, multi-tiered media relations training program for executives, senior leaders and faculty members;
  • Fostering and developing effective relationships with key stakeholders both on and off the five campuses;
  • Providing leadership and guidance to ensure the effective management and licensing of the University's trademarks and visual identity;
  • Serving effectively as the designated communication leader in the event of an institutional crisis; and,
  • Providing oversight and expert guidance for issues management and crisis communications.

Ensuring the efficient and effective operation of the University's integrated marketing and communications functions by:

  • Providing leadership and mentoring to all direct reports and the marketing and communications management team, to ensure strategic alignment and coordination of all central communications and marketing resources and activities across owned, earned and paid channels;
  • Stewarding the smooth integration of the previously separate digital strategy unit into Marketing & Communications and ensuring that the University, its faculties, and its administrative units effectively leverage digital resources and capabilities;
  • Maintaining an effective and appropriate relationship with the Associate Vice-President, Government & Community Relations to ensure a seamless integration of key messages and consistency of government advocacy with the University's overall communications strategy;
  • Coordinating with colleagues in other portfolios and working with communications and marketing professionals across the University’s campuses to assure consistency of institutional brand and message across the institution;
  • Refocusing departmental operations and objectives as necessary to reflect best practices, and developing an effective accountability structure for the assigned departments;
  • Establishing the vision and strategic objectives for assigned departments through the strategic business planning process;
  • Ensuring effective management of budgets and resources for Marketing & Communications;
  • Ensuring effective human resource management for Marketing & Communications and establishing clear accountabilities, to enable high-quality and consistent performance on all activities; and,
  • Effectively participating as a critical member of the Vice-President's senior leadership team which sets priorities and overall focus for the portfolio.


Given the role this individual will play in the University’s continued growth and success, it is essential that the successful candidate possess the following education, experience, and characteristics:


  • A university degree in Public Relations, Communications, or similar discipline. An advanced degree is an asset.


  • A minimum of 15 years of experience as a communications and marketing professional, with a minimum of ten years of experience in a communications leadership role for a complex, public or private sector organization;
  • A strong record of leadership, management, and administrative effectiveness in a decentralized and complex environment with multiple stakeholder groups;
  • Demonstrated significant accomplishments in communications and marketing (rebranding initiatives, awareness campaigns, issues management, media relations, etc.);
  • Demonstrated success in optimizing the use of owned, earned, and paid media channels to deliver desired results;
  • Proven ability to engage people, inside and outside of an organization, and work collaboratively, effectively, and successfully to advance, enhance and protect reputation;
  • Experience as a trusted advisor to senior leadership on a wide range of communications and reputational issues;
  • Expert understanding of and demonstrated experience successfully leading crisis communications efforts;
  • Demonstrated success implementing and measuring the outcomes of marketing and communications strategies in ways that advances organizational objectives;
  • A proven track record of success mitigating and managing issues involving multiple audiences, and enhancing reputation internally and externally with a wide variety of stakeholder groups;
  • Knowledge of freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation;
  • Experience as a media spokesperson;
  • Demonstrated success in leveraging developments and opportunities in social and digital media, using clear objectives and metrics to drive decision-making;
  • Sophisticated storytelling experience and in-depth knowledge of brand journalism;
  • A proven leader, with the ability to attract and retain top talent, and nurture an open and collaborative team approach to achieving goals in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment;
  • Demonstrated experience in effectively managing multi-million dollar budgets, while optimizing the use of limited financial resources;
  • Demonstrated experience ensuring complex projects and initiatives are completed on-time and on-budget;
  • Proven experience in successfully obtaining buy-in and leading initiatives that require extensive consultation over extended periods;
  • Success as a relationship builder who is confident and comfortable developing consensus across diverse communities by being direct, articulate, decisive, pragmatic, and socially and politically astute; and,
  • Relevant experience within the post-secondary sector would be an asset, as would knowledge of the various areas within a university community and its policies, procedures, and operating requirements, and active involvement in professional associations.


  • A team player with outstanding communication skills, high-energy, and a passion for taking on new challenges;
  • Excellent delegation skills and the ability to mentor and lead a strong and cohesive team of professionals, focused on common goals and objectives;
  • Credibility and poise working at the most senior levels of a university, as well as with governments, industry, and international organizations;
  • A natural leader whose passion, energy, creativity, and enthusiasm is infectious to others;
  • A friendly, open, approachable, and personable individual who inspires innovation and excellence, instills confidence and creates strong relationships quickly;
  • A commitment to developing positive relationships at all levels of an organization, as well as with members of the media, the community, and post-secondary and public sector peers;
  • Ability and willingness to share information in an effective and collaborative manner;
  • A manner of confidence, maturity, and ease, especially under pressure;
  • Commitment to transparency;
  • A reputation for being ethically uncompromising and trustworthy, with the highest level of integrity, respect and discretion;
  • Enthusiasm for adapting and responding to a changing environment, and constructively creating opportunities for change through active participation;
  • Appropriate composure, patience, and a positive outlook under sometimes challenging circumstances;
  • Excellent judgment and an ability to identify priorities and respond constructively to competing demands and pressures, and,
  • A genuine passion for the marketing and communications field, and a deep appreciation for universities, and the vital role they play in society.

In accordance with the Management and Professional Staff (excluded), this full time continuing position offers a comprehensive benefits package found at: and annual salary range of $123,672 to $206,120.

To assist the University in complying with mandatory reporting requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (R203(3) (e)), please include the first digit of your Canadian Social Insurance Number in your application. If you do not have a Canadian Social Insurance Number, please indicate this in your application.

To learn more details about this opportunity and to apply, please contact:

Colin Richardson
Senior Associate
DHR International
Suite 250, 435-4 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB, Canada  T2P 3A8
T:  403-817-0977

Bryan Arthur
Managing Partner
DHR International
Suite 250, 435-4 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB, Canada  T2P 3A8
T:  403-817-0980

How to Apply


All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. If suitable Canadian citizens or permanent residents cannot be found, other individuals will be considered.

The University of Alberta is committed to an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforce. We welcome applications from all qualified persons. We encourage women; First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons; members of visible minority groups; persons with disabilities; persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity and expression; and all those who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas and the University to apply.