Senior Director of Marketing & Communications

What We Do

California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is a forward-focused institution, dedicated to preparing future leaders, building great communities, and solving critical issues. Now in her fourth year of her presidency at CSUSM, Dr. Ellen Neufeldt continues to work in partnership with faculty, staff and the community to expand the university’s reach and impact. With a new institutional strategic plan launched in 2022 titled “The Power of CSUSM/The Power of US”, the university is looking forward to launching a major philanthropic campaign to support institutional priorities. The campus is also in the early stages of developing a new academic master plan, strategic enrollment plan and campus facilities master plan.

Since its founding in 1989, CSUSM has been dedicated to expanding educational access, student success and opportunity. From first-year programs to learning communities, community-based learning opportunities, internships, undergraduate research and more, the university works to foster deep learning and academic success by engaging students in meaningful and innovative educational experiences.  In 2022 CSUSM ranked number one in the nation on the national Social Mobility Index, which measures how well colleges and universities lift low-income students into well-paying careers post-graduation. CSUSM was also recently named a “Top 25 Most Transformative College” according to Money Magazine.

As an anchor institution in the region, CSUSM is highly connected and responsive to the needs of local communities. Approximately 80% of CSUSM students remain in the region after graduation, 54% of whom are the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Enrollment now exceeds 16,000 diverse students, serving San Diego County, Orange County and Southwest Riverside County. CSUSM is a federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with over 45% of our students representing the Latin-x community. The principles of diversity, equity and inclusion are woven into all aspects of CSUSM’s work. To learn more, visit:


This position will report to CSUSM’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Sarah Villarreal, one of our senior executive university administrators who oversees the Office of the President, a broad portfolio which includes Institutional Planning & Analysis, Government Relations, Marketing and Communications. Dr. Villarreal has been a higher education professional for over 20 years and began her early career in marketing at the University of California, Riverside.


  • Salary – $130,000 – $150,000 DOE/NEG
  • Medical, dental, and vision
  • CALPERS retirement plan
  • 24 paid days off
  • 12 paid sick days
  • 13 paid holidays and 1 floating holiday


This role will primarily be in-person, with some flexibility to work remotely. The office is located on the main campus of California State University San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd. San Marcos CA, 92096.


The Senior Director of Marketing and Communications (Senior Director) serves as the university’s top marketing leader, driving strategic initiatives to advance the university’s brand and profile. Collaborating at all levels across the university, the Senior Director ensures we have consistently high-quality communications and marketing programs that support strategic storytelling, advocacy, stakeholder outreach, media relations, as well as internal engagement of students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, community partners and friends. The position also supports the university’s crisis response team, providing leadership as a university spokesperson in collaboration with the Senior Advisor for Executive Communications. The Senior Director will be responsible for a $1.2M department budget, overseeing a team of nine, including three direct reports: Senior Design Strategist, Digital Communications Strategist, and Interim Assistant Director of Public Affairs & Operations.


  • Lead implementation for marketing and branding aspects of the university’s strategic plan.
  • Oversee the external marketing and communications efforts including direct mail, digital content, social media platforms, and earned/paid media.
  • Update and refresh the university’s style guide and branding elements.
  • Increase overall storytelling and the number of story pitches focusing on key initiatives and future fundraising campaigns.
  • Oversee execution of marketing and publication efforts for all major events, including commencement.
  • Coach, mentor, develop and manage 9 team members, including 3 direct reports.
  • Create a positive, supportive, and inclusive team environment in the University Communications Office.
  • Serve as a secondary public information officer, stepping in to assist with crisis communications as needed. 


  • The successful candidate must be highly skilled in the areas of marketing, communications, media relations, publications, and branding.
  • Previous experience in higher education institutions or complex organizations is highly desired.
  • Demonstrated experience guiding an organization through development and implementation of marketing and branding plans.
  • Deep knowledge of current marketing trends and digital strategies.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, with the ability to engage diverse audiences both internally and externally.
  • Demonstrated experience serving as a spokesperson, working with the news media on coverage of programs, events and activities.
  • Experience reporting, writing, and editing for publications.
  • Experience working with graphic design, photography, and printing vendors.
  • Experience supporting the marketing and communication elements of major events such as conferences, symposiums, galas and dinners.
  • Proven ability to effectively lead teams with a growth mindset, practiced at coaching and mentoring employees.
  • Ability to prioritize projects appropriately, making informed decisions quickly and decisively.
  • Ability to work with multiple stakeholders and personalities institution-wide.


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:


Sarah Thompson, Senior Director, Blair Search Partners
1855 1st Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101