Director of Communications and Public Programs

Posted On: May 8, 2017

Hours: Full Time


The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, established in 1859, is among the nation's oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education. The college, founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist, Peter Cooper, offers a world-class education in art, architecture and engineering as well as an outstanding faculty of humanities and social sciences. From the start, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to Peter Cooper’s proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony. The Cooper Union is a living laboratory that has advanced and shaped our country and civic thought for over 150 years. The Cooper Union has stood for more than a century as a bastion of free speech and a center for debate of the vital issues of civic leadership. That discussion continues today. As the College looks forward to rediscover Cooper’s many strengths, the College is developing a new strategic plan that drives toward an even more vibrant, sustainable, inclusive future.

This position is part of the leadership team and will play a key role in shaping The Cooper Union’s long-term financial health, academic vitality, and civic leadership into the 22nd century. The Director of Communications and Public Programs provides creative and strategic leadership in the development and implementation of a comprehensive, synergistic communications and public programming strategy for the College to engage internal and external audiences.  In partnership with the President and other campus leaders, the Director develops the College's strategic communications and public programming plans and oversees their implementation. The Director will lead a transformational approach to link the work in Public Programs to the overall strategy of communicating and engaging internal and external communities in public discussion about topics and values that are meaningful to the College and the community. The Director also serves as a key spokesperson for the College. This position reports directly to the President and is a member of the leadership Cabinet.


• Leads development of the College’s long-term communications vision and strategy.
• Translates vision into actionable plans, measurable in quantitative and qualitative terms (i.e., detailing one-, two-, and five year schedules and metrics).
• Develops the School’s core messages, devises short and long term strategies for communicating its messages through multiple channels, and assists the Deans and the Schools' senior leadership to effectively communicate messages to faculty, administrators/staff, enrolled students, alumni, donors, strategic partners, funding agencies, state and federal regulatory bodies, media entities, and the public, as appropriate.
• Defines messages and determines the appropriate methods to convey those messages consistently and effectively.
• Evaluates effectiveness of implemented communication strategies to adjust and revise as required for sustained improvement.
• Provides recommendations on policy and action in the management of issues and crises affecting the college.
• Provides communications advice and support to College’s senior leaders.
• Provides oversight of all print and digital materials to reach key audiences - website, media coverage, magazine, newsletter, social media, videos, appeal letters and other communication methods.
• Ensures consistent branding, messaging, and content across the College’s program and administrative departments.
• Oversees the generation of content, media and/or multimedia for all media outlets.
• Launches targeted and systemic effort to strengthen media relations and secure positive news coverage for the College in local, national, and international media.
• Supports the President to enhance the College’s vision and initiatives.
• Writes and edits a broad range of materials for both print and digital use.
• Designs and manages Institute brand/style guidelines.
• Serves as lead writer for the President as necessary.
• Manages third-party relationships.
Public Programs
There is an opportunity for public programs to be a key driver in the overall transformation efforts at Cooper Union. This will include development of a strategic programming schedule and marketing and communications strategies that engage students, faculty, alumni and the local, regional and national communities; drive revenue for the college and promote the College's mission and civic leadership.
• Produce and manage an array of public programs and a related communications strategy that demonstrate the College's civic leadership and increase its visibility, consonant with the college's mission. These include series of free lectures, book signings and panels that bring opinion makers and thought leaders to Cooper Union, along with a variety of special events and exhibitions.
• Raise revenues and further The Cooper Union's mission by renting its facilities — particularly the Great Hall, the Rose Auditorium and the College's gallery spaces.
• Negotiate space bookings for both internal and external producers, creating opportunities to increase the number of distinguished speakers who visit The Cooper Union each year.
Supervisory Responsibilities:
• Direct a team of communications and public program professionals. This includes hiring and training, planning and assigning work, conducting performance appraisals, addressing performance issues, and resolving problems.
• Develop and manage budget for communications and public programs.
• Manage external resources when applicable.


• Minimum of ten years progressively responsible experience in strategic communications planning; digital, social, and print media and public relations; perception management; internal communications; and crisis management, as well as proven effectiveness engaging local, national, and international media.
• Minimum of five years progressively responsible experience in the successful design and production of print and digital materials, including a familiarity with graphic design, web design, publications processes, and Google Analytics.
• Experience with developing program strategy and producing events. 
• Experience with  identifying or managing agents who represent talent who provide exemplary programs.
• Ability to partner with development leadership to engage potential funders through public programs.
• Ability to supervise and train employees including organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling work assignments; evaluating performance; and mentoring and coaching employees to achieve maximum productivity.
• Exceptional writing, editing and oral communication skills as well as proficiency in engaging effectively with a wide range of external and internal constituencies.
• Ability to lead and reorient teams in response to new opportunities and changing priorities.
• Strong strategic thinker with a demonstrated ability to provide advice and counsel across a complex organization.
• Ability to deliver high quality work within designated timelines.
• Ability to build strong relationships, work both collaboratively and independently, make decisions, maintain confidentiality, multitask, organize, and prioritize while maintaining high standards in a high volume environment.
• Demonstrate energy, creativity, and intellectual breadth, with the ability to lead, inspire, and manage a team with those characteristics
• A proven ability to serve as an institutional spokesperson on a variety of issues in a variety of settings.
• Is committed to the value of diversity in all aspects of college life.


•  Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university is required.

This is a non-union position.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Submit resume and cover letter to:
Human Resources
30 Cooper Square, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10003

Or email to:

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.