Special Assistant to the President for Transformative Partnerships

Special Assistant to the President for Transformative Partnerships


Full Time


Albany, NY | Remote |

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The Special Assistant to the President for Transformative Partnerships is a unique, senior-level role that requires deep expertise in the operations of higher education. Experience in higher education systems can be particularly useful, and broad experience in university operations is a must. This is a senior level role reporting to the President.

The transformation of the higher education sector that began more than a decade ago is well underway. A convergence of factors, including a decline in traditional age students and the impact of the pandemic has left many institutions struggling to the point of closure. To address this existential crisis, partnerships are emerging among heretofore independent schools, including mergers, acquisitions, affiliations, and other long-term contractual agreements, leading to a consolidation phase in higher education.

Excelsior is in an enviable position of strength, despite tremendous headwinds in the sector. Its finances are stable and improving; enrollments are stable and rising; and the institution has minimal debt. From this position of strength, Excelsior envisions an integrated network of institutions and other entities to build a network or constellation of institutions, employers, vendors, associations, and other organizations to form a student-centric ecosystem that will provide students with extensive opportunities to learn, study, and transition from school to jobs and jobs to school. A significant part of this process is to acquire, merge with, affiliate with, or in some other way partner with other colleges and universities.

The Special Assistant to the President for Transformative Partnerships is the manager, facilitator and coordinator for mergers, acquisitions, affiliations, and related work. The individual in this role works very closely with the President and the President’s Cabinet to engage with potential partners and coordinate and facilitate all aspects of the transformative partnership process, from initial partner identification to relationship framing strategies and discussions to formalizing relationships.

The process of implementing collaborations of this nature and scale is extremely complex and requires many experts in many areas. The integration of curriculum and faculty, culture, staff, regulatory issues, student services, finances, and IT are only some of the key areas that must be coordinated. The Special Assistant to the President for Transformative Partnerships must understand the units and individuals involved and know the state of each part of the merger process at any given time. The individual in this role must be able to connect leaders and staff at Excelsior and the target institution to ensure that the appropriate due diligence is taking place and that the merger is progressing well, on time, on budget, and within regulatory parameters and other constraints.

Excelsior University is an online institution based in Albany, NY with students and faculty located throughout the country. Its strategic interest in building transformative partnerships with other institutions is in part driven by geography. Institutions located in areas of the country with large numbers of Excelsior students or in high-population areas are of particular interest. Although the Special Assistant to the President for Transformative Partnerships can reside anywhere in the U.S., it is expected that the individual in the role will travel often to Albany, NY, and to wherever target institutions are located. Hence residing near a major airport is an important consideration for applicants for this position.

Selected Specific Duties:
  • Build and maintain a roster of potential institutions with which an affiliation, merger, acquisition or similar partnership/operating relationship potentially exists utilizing agreed-upon criteria, and working with analysts to use data to drive decisions.
  • Coordinate and conduct exploratory discussions with potential partners.
  • Coordinate discussions among Cabinet and other appropriate Excelsior Staff related to potential partnerships.
  • Oversee the securing of internal and external resources to assist with partnership exploration and execution.
  • Oversee negotiation process to drive to a letter of intent and related documents of commitment and association that take into account the best interests of all partners.
  • Oversee institution-wide project management for implementation of new partners with detailed milestones and activities for each implementation phase, by unit.
  • Oversee planning and communications as needed throughout the institution related to partnership activity.
  • Oversee and ensure adequate due diligence of partnerships as they work through the cycle of viability and realization.
  • Other duties as assigned.

    Required qualifications:
  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution required, doctorate preferred.
  • At least 10 years’ administrative experience in higher education, with at least some of that experience at a leadership level.
  • Comprehensive understanding of higher education, including the for-profit, private non-profit, and public sectors.
  • Comprehensive understanding of college or university operations, including how the component parts of institutions--such as student services, academic affairs, and financial affairs, etc.--intersect and interact.
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with all university functional areas and senior campus leaders, including deans, provosts, CFOs, CIOs, presidents/chancellors, and others.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage regulatory issues at the institution and accreditation levels.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage complex projects and motivate institution leaders to complete them on time and on budget.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Outstanding emotional intelligence with demonstrated abilities to resolve conflict and motivate individuals to achieve complex goals.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and collaborate with colleagues at Excelsior and across institutions valuing and leveraging their diversity of perspectives, knowledge and skills.
  • High levels of resilience and comfort with ambiguity.
  • Appreciation for and use of humor to manage stress and motivate others.

    Preferred qualifications:
  • Experience working with regional accreditors.
  • Experience working with the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Experience working with higher education regulatory boards at the state level.
  • Experience with mergers and acquisitions
  • Experience in higher education systems

    The hiring salary range for this position is $175,000.00 - $200,000.00. The hiring salary range above represents the University's good faith estimate at the time of posting.
  • Application Information

    If you have problems with online submission, please call 518-608-8270.

    Excelsior University offers competitive compensation and a generous benefits package that includes paid time off, retirement, and excellent health insurance. Interested candidates should submit a letter of application, resume, and the names of three professional references. Please submit requested information by clicking the Apply Now button on this page.


    Excelsior University is an equal opportunity employer committed to ensuring all qualified applicants receive consideration for employment without regard to any legally protected characteristic.

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