Assistant Director, Signature Alumni Programs

Southern Methodist University
May 5, 2022
Dallas, TX
Job Type


About SMU

SMU’s more than 12,000 diverse, high-achieving students come from all 50 states and 90 countries to take advantage of the University’s small classes, hands-on research opportunities, leadership development, community service, international study and innovative programs. The University offers a strong foundation in the humanities and sciences and undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs through eight schools.

Now in its second century of achievement, SMU is increasingly recognized for the ways it supports students, faculty and alumni as they become ethical leaders in their professions and communities. On the most beautiful college campus in the country, SMU Mustangs are energized by unbridled opportunities – from teaching, learning and research to creativity, performance and athletic endeavor.

About the Department:

Development and External Affairs (DEA) supports SMU by securing funding for University priorities; by promoting meaningful involvement in the life and work of the University; by heightening international, national, state and local awareness of SMU; and by supporting the enrollment of a diverse and able student body.

DEA comprises the offices of Office of the Vice President, Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, Development Services, Program Services and Donor Relations, Marketing and Communications, Principal and Major Gifts, and School and Project Development.

About the Position:

The Assistant Director is responsible for the oversight, operations, project management, marketing & execution of signature alumni programs for SMU's 135K+ alumni, including Homecoming & Founder's Day weekends, Distinguished Alumni Awards process, SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute, regional athletics tailgates & other signature regional/international alumni experiences supporting SMU's fundraising/engagement goals. Prioritizing the goal of optimizing & strengthening alumni connections that generate donations to SMU, the role collaborates with other campus leaders, acting as project manager to execute centralized alumni engagement experiences.

The position interacts with alumni boards, SMU staff & high profile volunteer leaders, executing strategy for regional/international engagement that advances AGAR priorities. Role reports engagement results to senior leadership for appropriate follow-up & implements processes to optimize future activity.

Essential Functions:

  • Coordinate strategic planning & oversee program execution of Homecoming & Founder's Day weekends: coordinate with SMU colleagues to manage & execute traditions, incl. annual parade, alumni tailgates, receptions, tours, reunion events, presidential appearances, etc. Build & execute timelines using project management software. Craft & distribute all logistical plans. Draft correspondence for Senior Leadership. Aggregate all weekend event details to manage overall mass marketing execution, including comprehensive event registration processes in Cvent. Partner to execute any event logistics, as needed. Regularly report to stakeholders incl. preparing SMU President's Briefing materials, attendance reports and timeline progress.
  • Act as project manager of the high profile Distinguished Alumni/Emerging Leader Awards process: manage & execute entire annual nominations/selections process, draft & execute detailed recipient correspondence, manage all assets, oversee project timelines, & regularly communicate to SMU leadership on logistics for follow-up.
  • Partner with DEA colleagues, act as project manager to execute signature regional/international alumni outreach events, incl. but not limited to SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute, away game tailgates & other comprehensive regional events. Build & execute all program timelines, draft all necessary correspondence, oversee travel & logistics. Collect event assets to facilitate marketing plan.
  • Manage constituent experiences in ahighly personalized fashion, ensuring prompt & positive customer experiences for high-profile participants that translate to deepened affinity & support for SMU. Work with AGAR team/coordinators to ensure seamless/consistent event execution.
  • Initiate all marketing content discussions & list generation in partnership with supervisor and AGAR colleagues. Ensure complete & comprehensive integration of brand & messaging into overall AGAR marketing/engagement plan,  suggesting creative strategies for cross-optimization. Track success & report findings to DEA/SMU colleagues for appropriate follow up & next steps related to engaging participants in philanthropic activity. Execute marketing within various channels as appropriate.
  • Attend campus alumni representative meetings to further partnerships & data collection about alumni efforts in schools and units. Serve as meeting manager or key liaison, as appropriate, for campus planning meetings related to signature experiences surrounding Homecoming & Founder's Day weekend. Partner with AGAR to provide guidance for alumni board & other key alumni leaders, which may include leading board sub-committees & producing engagement reports with the assistance of colleagues.
  • Facilitate/attend high profile alumni events/activities and other appropriate University events as a representative of AGAR. Provide excellent constituent support to highly engaged alumni and donors during signature event activity, such as private events and receptions. Facilitate other representation, as appropriate, for signature events such as presidential ceremonies or other activities where ceremonial alumni presence is requested.
  • Administrative: Participate in annual budgeting process as it relates to the programs of responsibility indicated. Produce and distribute regular program analysis & attendance reports, including trend summaries, to stakeholders during and after event registration process to aid in development of enhanced alumni engagement scoring and fundraising plans. Collaborate with events managers to execute standard event logistics & budgeting reconciliation when appropriate.
  • Position requires some evening and weekend work outside regular business hours
  • Other duties as assigned



 Education and Experience:

A Bachelor’s degree is required. Master's preferred.

A minimum of one year of professional work experience in event management, volunteer management and/or program/project management is required. Experience managing multiple projects with the goal of delivering on specific metrics is also required.

Professional work experience that requires written communication skills and production of mass marketing elements, required. Experience managing volunteer boards and committees of adult professionals, desired. Experience in higher education and/or fundraising is preferred.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

Candidate must demonstrate strong interpersonal and verbal communication skills, with the ability to communicate broadly across the University and develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of constituencies. Must also demonstrate strong written communication skills. A strong customer service orientation is essential.

Candidate must possess strong problem-solving skills with the ability to identify and analyze problems, as well as devise solutions. Must also have strong organizational, planning and time management skills.  Budget management experience and a strong focus on attention to detail are essential.

Proven ability to build and manage alumni, volunteer or event activity and plans that support fundraising goals of the department and university is strongly preferred. Higher-level thinking that supports developing plans of action that fit into SMU and AGAR's strategic plan, desired. Knowledge of SMU alumni constituencies (SMU alum status), a plus.

Candidate must have a strong working knowledge of entire Microsoft Office product suite. Strong knowledge and/or work experience with project management tools (i.e., Asana, AirTable, Monday), preferred.

A working knowledge of Zoom or other video conferencing technology, desired. Experience with social media platforms and tools, is a plus. Experience with BBEC or another CRM, preferred.

Physical and Environmental Demands:

  • Sit for long periods of time

Deadline to Apply:

May 24, 2022

Priority consideration may be given to submissions received by May 17, 2022.

EEO Statement:

SMU will not discriminate in any program or activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. The Executive Director for Access and Equity/Title IX Coordinator is designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies and may be reached at the Perkins Administration Building, Room 204, 6425 Boaz Lane, Dallas, TX 75205, 214-768-3601,


SMU offers staff a broad, competitive array of health and related benefits. In addition to traditional benefits such as health, dental, and vision plans, SMU offers a wide range of wellness programs to help attract, support, and retain our employees whose work continues to make SMU an outstanding education and research institution.

SMU is committed to providing an array of retirement programs that benefit and protect you and your family throughout your working years at SMU and, if you meet SMU's retirement eligibility criteria, during your retirement years after you leave SMU.

The value of learning at SMU isn't just about preparing our students for the future. Employees have access to a wide variety of professional and personal development opportunities, including tuition benefits.

Application Instructions

Please apply online at:


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