Senior Vice President, External Relations and Communications

Req Number: ZW773
Location: Oakland, California
Posted: 4/19/2021
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Education
Job Type: Permanent

The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) invites nominations and applications for the position of Senior Vice President of External Relations and Communications (“SVP”). This role reports to the President of the University of California, Dr. Michael V. Drake, MD, and is a member of his senior leadership team. The SVP provides UC-wide leadership in strategic communications, marketing, and public affairs as well as in engaging key constituencies such as alumni. The SVP also establishes a vision for external relations with state and federal sponsors, partners, and regulators. The SVP excels as an inclusive and forward-looking leader. 

The SVP is responsible for developing, integrating and executing successful public relations, governmental relations and media relations strategies which support the research, education and public service missions of the University of California campuses, academic health centers and national laboratories.

The SVP is responsible for developing and implementing an integrated communications strategy across marketing communications, digital communications, executive communications, internal communications, and media relations. The SVP oversees the management of the system-wide UC brand and directs large-scale marketing campaigns to build public awareness of and support for UC’s value and its impact on the lives of people in California and beyond.

The SVP works with other senior University leaders to cultivate and strengthen relationships with state and federal government legislators, agencies, alumni, donors, campuses, Regents and other internal and external audiences.  The SVP also monitors issues and areas which affect higher educational institutions and oversees teams that monitor and advocate for state and federal legislative proposals which may impact the University.

The SVP also establishes overall strategy for advocacy programs, creating and leveraging partnerships and collaboration opportunities on behalf of the University, involving faculty, researchers and other internal resources, as well as alumni and supporters of the University.

The SVP oversees the following UCOP units: Strategic Communications and Media Relations; Executive Communications and Engagement; Marketing Communications; Internal Communications; Institutional Advancement; Constituent Engagement; University of California Health Communications; Federal Governmental Relations; State Governmental Relations; and Legislative Analysis.

For more information about the University of California External Relations and Communications, see:

Equity, diversity, and inclusion are key components of The University of California’s commitment to excellence. Thus, teaching, research, professional, and public service contributions that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion are encouraged and given due recognition in the evaluation of each candidate’s qualifications. To review the University of California Diversity Statement, see:

The Office of the President seeks to create, reflect and maintain a diverse, productive, equitable and inclusive community committed to the University of California’s academic mission and to its core values: integrity in its work, respect for one another, accountability for its public resources, and excellence in its service to the University and to the State. As a member of Senior Management, the SVP cultivates, champions, embodies, embraces and supports diversity, equity, inclusion and a sense of belonging. The SVP demonstrates empathy and respect for all people inclusive of differences and promotes fairness and equity.

Successful candidates will bring 10 years of experience in communications, media relations, public affairs or similar with a background in implementing earned, owned, and paid media strategies on behalf of large organizations or high-profile individuals. The SVP will have a firm understanding of the issues impacting higher education, research and health care in California and nationally, and knowledge of the state and federal political landscape and deep experience with the governmental affairs process. Candidates must bring an enthusiasm for challenges and a strong desire to ensure a high level of excellence in achieving the University’s legislative and communications priorities. The successful SVP candidate will have excelled as an inclusive and forward-looking leader.

The University of California (UC) is a premier institution of higher education and is recognized nationally and internationally for excellence in teaching, research, and public service. The UC system, with an operating budget totaling $41.6 billion in 2020-21, serves more than 280,000 students, employs about 227,000 faculty and staff, and includes 2 million alumni living and working around the world. The University of California Office of the President is based in Oakland, California.

The UC Office of the President (UCOP) ( is the systemwide headquarters of the University of California, managing its multi-billion-dollar financial, investment and business operations and supporting the academic, research and public service missions across its 10 campuses, 3 national laboratories, and 6 academic health centers. UCOP supports campuses and students through system-wide funding and programs and in certain areas of policy and strategy. It provides centralized labor relations and legal services. And it promotes the well-being of its diverse and large workforce through benefits and retirement programs. UCOP coordinates activities that allow a complex and unique system to operate efficiently as one enterprise, furthering its public interest, academic and research missions. It oversees and manages programs that serve the entire University system, allowing campuses to capture the savings and efficiencies that come from centralized operations.

A link to the full postition description can be found here.


Reviews of candidate materials will begin immediately, and the position will remain open until filled. Salary will be commensurate with experience. UCOP has retained Korn Ferry to support this recruitment. Peter McDermott, Beth Fowler and Milton Anderson are leading the search. Applicants should submit the materials listed below to Korn Ferry's candidate portal. Confidential inquiries and nominations should be sent to Chantelle Tolliver at The University of California is committed to providing an electronic environment that is accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities. Should you need assistance through this application process, please email

Please note that this application requires the submission of each of the following 4 items to be complete. Only complete applications will be considered:

  • Resumé
  • Cover letter 
  • University of California applicant self-Identification questionnaires - a separate email with instructions will be sent to applicants after other application materials have been submitted.
  • Contributions to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement (see prompt, below)

Contributions to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement – Prompt

We recognize that excellence is inextricably linked to the diversity of our faculty, staff, and student body. The University of California define diversity very broadly and takes seriously Regents Policy 4400 which states: “The diversity of the people of California has been the source of innovative ideas and creative accomplishments throughout the state’s history into the present. Diversity – a defining feature of California’s past, present, and future – refers to the variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and geographic region, and more.”

In a “Statement of Contributions to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” please describe your understanding of the barriers that exist for historically underrepresented groups in higher education and/or in the fields of government affairs and constituent communications. Include past, present, and/or potential future contributions to promoting an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment, which is a key requirement of the role of every leader at the University of California.

There are numerous ways to demonstrate contributions to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. A commitment to this part of the University of California mission can be reflected through leadership, research, teaching, supervision, mentoring, community engagement, service, and any of the other varied activities that are a part of one’s career, or personal and other professional experiences. Please be specific about the context; your role, scope, or level of effort; and the impact. In describing your future plans, please discuss activities you plan to pursue and how they fit into your vision for External Relations and Communications at the Office of the President and for the University of California.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the University of California’s complete nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy, please visit this website: 



Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.