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Vice-President, External Relations

Company: University of Ottawa
Date Posted: March 29, 2018

ID: 3377

The Opportunity

The University of Ottawa is seeking a Vice-President, External Relations to lead the institutional External Relations strategy, efforts and team. The Vice-President, External Relations will be responsible for providing a comprehensive, integrated approach to development, alumni affairs, marketing and communications, and language services, ensuring that they are in concert and in accordance with the strategic vision and academic mission of the University.

Reporting to the President and Vice-Chancellor, Jacques Frémont, the Vice-President, External Relations will work closely with the President, other Vice-Presidents and Deans, the members of the Board of Governors and academic leaders, in support of the University’s advancement and external relations objectives, through engagement and partnership with alumni, donors, faculty, students, parents, support staff, friends, partners, government representatives, volunteers and other stakeholders.

The Vice-President, External Relations will play a key role in outreach and fundraising for the University of Ottawa, while leading staff in major and principal gift cultivation and solicitation, getting directly involved  to further build on the strength of  alumni and donor relationships.

This is a truly exciting time to join the senior administration team at the University of Ottawa. It is an opportunity to tell the uOttawa story to the world, connect with alumni and lead the Defy the Conventional campaign, a $400 million major fundraising project in support of the University’s vision and strategic priorities. Having reached the $240 million mark, the campaign is well underway and well-positioned to continue to leverage the existing momentum. Defy the Conventional is the most ambitious campaign in the University’s history, and it will enable transformative projects to solidify the University’s position among the very best in the country.


Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for the position of Vice-President, External Relations will be an accomplished executive who excels at fundraising, providing strategic direction, operations management and team leadership. The ideal candidate will appreciate and promote the academic research and teaching mission of the University of Ottawa, and will view External Relations as an essential player in building relationships with both internal and external communities, to better serve students, faculty, researchers and alumni, as well as to further the University’s ambitions and development. 

The successful candidate will value input from others and will have superior interpersonal skills, with a demonstrated ability to build and nurture relationships, and will encourage the involvement of others as ambassadors and partners in attracting resources and investment, or otherwise encouraging engagement towards the University. 

In concert with the President, and the Administration Committee, the new Vice-President, External Relations will be skilled at leading the development of strategy, and will introduce and execute clear action plans to achieve the University’s fundraising and external relations goals. The ideal candidate will draw on his or her extensive knowledge and experience in soliciting major and principal gifts and directing comprehensive campaigns in a complex environment.  The successful candidate will present a vision and convincing ideas and plans, along with best practices and innovative approaches to engage and inspire alumni, donors and key partners in various markets and regions, nationally and internationally.

Possessing a successful track record in meeting expectations, the ideal candidate will be an action-oriented catalyst who will take the External Relations team to new heights. The Vice-President, External Relations will have demonstrated experience and ability to lead and motivate a large team of professionals and prepare new staff through support and selective recruitment, while ensuring an environment that fosters diversity, inclusion, respect, and appreciation.

A skilled and effective communicator, the ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of the crucial role that marketing, communications, and alumni relations play in successful revenue generation. The Vice-President, External Relations will implement various communications initiatives that emphasize our brand and further heighten the University of Ottawa’s visibility locally, nationally, and globally.  

The Vice-President, External Relations will be capable of tactfully navigating effectively through the University’s multi-layered structure. The ideal candidate will be a persuasive individual who listens and evaluates, and uses these abilities to engage and influence others. Open, transparent, and respectful, the successful candidate will also have a high level of integrity and personal accountability.

The ideal candidate must understand and respect the complexities and many facets of language duality at our university. The incumbent must be able to communicate professionally in French and in English and will be very comfortable operating in a bilingual working environment.


Key Responsibilities

As the University of Ottawa’s Vice-President, External Relations, the incumbent will:

  • Make recommendations and advise the President, as a member of the University’s senior leadership, on matters of policy and priorities and participate in University strategic planning.
  • In consultation and partnership with the President, Vice-Presidents, Chancellor, members of the Board of Governors and various University community stakeholders, create and lead the development and implementation of a strategic external relations plan that aligns with and supports the University’s mission and vision.
  • Provide leadership and direction for all centralized and decentralized fundraising and alumni relations programs, ensuring that best-practice activities are in place to support advancement and external relations goals.
  • Working closely and in collaboration with the uOttawa Alumni Association and their Board of Directors, oversee the development of strategies and tactics that continue to build meaningful alumni engagement with the University and the faculties.
  • Lead overall strategy and implementation of plans for the University’s comprehensive fundraising campaign.
  • Ensure a professional, strategic, and coordinated approach to donor identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship activities.
  • Strategically engage and involve the President, Vice-Presidents, Deans, Faculty members, Directors, members of the Board of Governors, alumni, and others in fundraising activities.
  • Forge and strengthen ties and implement strategies and tactics to reinforce the engagement with new and existing donors, alumni, partners and stakeholders, to attract new and increased investment in the University.
  • Grow the University’s senior volunteer structure and participate in the identification, recruitment, training, management, and stewardship of volunteers.
  • Serve as an ambassador and representative of the University, establishing and maintaining effective relationships with faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, partners, and the wider community.
  • Improve the University’s standing and reputation domestically and abroad.
  • Manage the human and financial resources of the External Relations portfolio.
  • Demonstrate vast administrative experience, an understanding of financial and administrative issues resulting from decision making in a university setting, and a capacity to transform bold concepts into concrete results.  


About the University of Ottawa

First established in 1848, the University of Ottawa is the largest English-French bilingual university in the world and one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities. An integral part of Canada’s capital, the University of Ottawa is a vibrant centre of learning where a variety of cultures and perspectives come together to create a truly unique educational experience. The University community directly reflects essential national traits, embracing the country’s diversity, bilingualism, and spirit of openness.

The University of Ottawa is home to over 43,000 students (including 6,000 graduate students), as well as 5,000 employees. A total of 450 programs in 10 faculties are offered by the University, including the largest French immersion program among Canadian universities. The University of Ottawa provides one of Canada’s most generous financial aid programs, offering students close to $60 million per year in scholarships and bursaries. Students also benefit from the fifth largest co-op program in the country.

The University of Ottawa offers a dynamic and stimulating environment where research and knowledge are fundamental to every aspect of university life. Breakthroughs in health, sciences, social sciences, and the humanities at the University of Ottawa attract global attention – reflecting the quality of the University’s faculty members and their drive to discover. The University is ranked among the top ten research-intensive universities in Canada, and expects to be in top five within the next ten years.

The University of Ottawa's strategic plan, Destination 2020, sets out four over–arching goals that underlie all initiatives: a commitment to a rich and inspiring student experience, research excellence, bilingualism, and developing global leaders through internationalization.


University of Ottawa – Links & Additional Information

About Us:

Destination 2020: 


External Relations and Campaign: 


Application Process

KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) has been retained to conduct this executive search on behalf of the University of Ottawa. For further information about this leadership opportunity, please contact Sylvie Battisti, KCI Vice President, by email at or phone at 438-820-3496.

To view the full Executive Brief, please visit:

Interested candidates are invited to send resume and letter of interest to the above email address by April 27, 2018. Nominations are also welcomed for this position. All inquiries, applications, and nominations will be held in strict confidence. 

The University of Ottawa is an equal opportunity employer. We strongly encourage applications from women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. If you are invited to continue the selection process, please notify us of any particular adaptive measures you might require. In keeping with Citizenship and Immigration Canada requirements, all qualified persons are invited to apply; however, preference will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.