Director of Strategic Projects

Compensation: $75,000 – $80,000
Location: San Marcos, CA
Reports To: Chief of Staff


The California State University (CSU) remains committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, administrators, and the communities we serve, as well as maintaining higher education access and attainment for our students. As such, all employees and new hires are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, unless otherwise exempted. To view the full policy please visit:


Building on an innovative 30-year history, California State University San Marcos is a forward-focused institution, dedicated to preparing future leaders, building great communities and solving critical issues. Led by our new President, Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, CSUSM continues to expand its reach and influence. This includes not only buildings, facilities and scholarships, but also a yearlong outreach and dialogue process with our students and the local community to help shape our new strategic plan. As a relatively young institution, CSUSM is a dynamic, ambitious university, with an unwavering focus on student success, equity and social justice. We are highly connected to our region, with 80% of our students remaining in the community after graduation, 53% of whom are the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Our enrollment now exceeds 16,000 students, serving San Diego County, Orange County and Southwest Riverside County. CSUSM has been officially recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with over 45% of our students representing the Latino community.


The Director of Strategic Projects is a newly created role, managing high-level, complex projects and university-wide initiatives. Reporting to the Chief of Staff, the DSP will serve as a key member of the Office of the President’s leadership team and will regularly interact with the President and other senior leaders. Serving as the “Chief All Arounder”, the DSP will operate with a high degree of autonomy, assisting to implement the President’s top priorities such as student housing and CSUSM’s ongoing pandemic response initiatives.

The Director of Strategic Projects’ core functions include:

  • Supporting the Chief of Staff and President on numerous high priority initiatives, projects, and activities.
  • Serving as a primary liaison for the Office of the President on various committees including the Council of Care committee and Media Moments taskforce.
  • Creating and implementing strategic and operational plans for the Office of the President.
  • Providing project management assistance and support to other senior leaders including the Director of Government Relations.
  • Leading the annual evaluation process for the President’s direct reports, including chiefs and vice presidents.
  • Implementing action items stemming from Office of the President’s team meetings.

Priorities within the first year include:

  • Develop relationships within the Office of the President and across the University.
  • Forecast scheduling and training needs of the University Cabinet.
  • Create an onboarding program for Office of the President team members.
  • Conduct a review of the Office’s policies and procedures.
  • Craft dashboards and compile data for projects such as an inventory of institutional research needs across campus, organizational chart, and emergency response flow chart.


  • Engage in complex information/data collection and analysis, providing high-level reports for the Chief of Staff and President.
  • Stay abreast of critical issues, policies, and protocols that may impact the University.
  • Lead project teams for key events associated with presidential priorities and initiatives.
  • Provide project management and administrative support for committees and taskforces appointed by the President such as executive searches, executive performance evaluations, and Vice President Periodic Reviews.
  • Work with highly sensitive and confidential information.
  • Support the Presidential Aide in conducting Office of the President VIP visits, coordinating campus logistics and ensuring information is relayed accurately between external partners/entities and the campus.
  • Assist in coordinating the Office of the President’s commencement participation, as needed.
  • Coordinate with campus departments to complete tasks related to assigned projects.


  • A highly flexible and adaptable “utility player,” willing to take on a variety of projects and assignments; thrives on change, innovation, and new challenges.
  • A dedicated team member committed to a shared vision of success and assisting colleagues in reaching their professional and personal goals.
  • Charismatic and engaging; able to build relationships quickly.
  • Ability to lead and facilitate meetings, in addition to handling difficult conversations and conflict resolution, if needed.
  • Forward thinking; identifies current and future challenges and proposes effective solutions; understands what issues require a “sense of urgency” and handles accordingly.
  • Tactful and diplomatic, ensuring confidentiality around sensitive issues and information.
  • Communicates effectively and with purpose across all mediums.
  • Creates and implements methods for improving individual and team performance.
  • Takes ownership of issues and demonstrates accountability.
  • Demonstrates commitment to creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce.
  • Dedicated to the University’s mission and vision and how the team’s activities and goals support the mission; works hard to ensure cross-divisional support and participation.


  • BA/BS required.
  • Minimum of 5 years of progressively responsible professional experience managing high-level or large-scale projects.
  • Prior work experience with CEOs or executives.
  • Higher education experience preferable, but not required.
  • Great communicator with exceptional writing and presentation skills.
  • Demonstrated commitment and ability to advance the University’s goals in the areas of diversity and inclusive excellence.


  • Background check:This position is subject to a background check including, but not limited to, employment verification, education verification, reference checks and criminal record checks.
  • Mandated Reporter: The person holding this position is considered a ‘mandated reporter’ under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and is required to comply with the requirements set forth in CSU Executive Order 1083 as a condition of employment.
  • Conflict of Interest:this position is a “designated position” in the California State University’s Conflict of Interest Code.  The incumbent in this position is required to file Conflict of Interest forms subject to the regulations of the Fair Political Practices Commission. This position is required to file the Form 700 under disclosure category 2.
  • Travel:occasional overnight travel may be necessary.

For more information or to apply, please contact:

Sarah Thompson, Director
Blair Search Partners: 1855 First Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101