Columbia University School of Professional Studies — Executive Director, Center for Educational Access

The Center for Educational Access (CEA) is a newly-launched unit of Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies (SPS) with the goal of advancing access to higher education for underserved populations. The Center’s activities will consist of programs, research, and advocacy in six areas/initiatives.

The initiatives and the populations they serve are:

  • Columbia Girls in STEM Initiative: high school girls and boys interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and math
  • Columbia HBCU Fellowship: graduates of leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities seeking to pursue a Master’s degree at SPS
  • Columbia Harlem Learning Collaborative: residents of the communities of which Columbia’s campuses are a part seeking educational opportunities
  • Columbia Women’s Leadership Forum: women aspiring to become leaders in technology fields in Silicon Valley
  • Columbia Global Exchange Practicum: learners in select cities where Columbia has established Global Centers
  • Columbia Abilities Project: learners with disabilities

The first two initiatives are already well-established. Now in its third year, the Columbia Girls in STEM Initiative engages high school students from underrepresented backgrounds in four cities across the country. The initiative offers participants hands-on instruction in science, technology, engineering, and math—while developing their leadership and communication skills. The Columbia HBCU Fellowship, launched in Fall 2017, offers scholarships for graduates of the top Historically Black Colleges and Universities to study at SPS in select disciplines, while pairing fellows with mentoring and internship opportunities. The other four initiatives, while building on existing efforts, are currently in the planning stages.

CEA will be led by the SPS Dean, who will serve as Faculty Director and be responsible for the overall strategic direction of the Center, as well as fundraising. Reporting to the Faculty Director, the Executive Director will be responsible for managing and overseeing the Center’s six initiatives. The Executive Director will also supervise all other CEA staff, which will initially consist of an Operations Manager who will oversee all operational and administrative matters for the Center on a day-to-day basis. As the Center grows, its staff may also include a project coordinator(s), as well as student assistants and interns. In addition, the Executive Director will work closely with SPS’ Board of Overseers (a group of high level leaders who provide advice and counsel to the Dean and SPS Senior Leadership), the CEA Advisory Board (Columbia University faculty and other stakeholders appointed by the Dean to advise on and guide CEA’s work), and other SPS staff.


  • Provide guidance and oversight for all Center activities (programs, research, and advocacy), organized among six initiatives. Supervise Operations Manager and other CEA staff. Develop and oversee the Center’s budget.
  • Serve as the steward of CEA’s academic mission and focus. Develop and implement a short term and long term research and advocacy agenda for CEA. Identify research topics of interest based on programmatic initiatives of the Center. Engage and develop collaborations with SPS and other University faculty as appropriate.
  • Ensure that all CEA research activities adhere to all applicable University and government policies and standards.
  • Facilitate the writing of (and in some cases, author or co-author as appropriate) academic journal articles, op-eds, white papers, and related materials.
  • Develop and coordinate academic conferences at SPS, sponsored by the Center, on relevant topics related to educational access. Stay abreast of the latest news and research related to educational access broadly and to CEA’s six initiatives more specifically.
  • Serve as a key spokesperson for CEA, including being the “point person” on campus for CEA-related matters and inquiries.
  • Make connections and build partnerships with key University stakeholders, as well as with external organizations in New York City and nationally, to help advance CEA’s work and profile.
  • Represent SPS and CEA at conferences, symposia, and other events.
  • Make presentations to internal and external audiences.
  • Partner with the University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs regarding lobbying and advocacy strategies and plans.
  • Assist Dean/Faculty Director, Senior Associate Dean for External Affairs, and members of the Board of Overseers with fundraising activities as needed.
  • In all activities, work to ensure that the Center is quickly seen as a respected, national thought-leader on matters of educational access.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A master’s degree and seven to ten years of experience

Additional Position-Specific Qualifications:

  • Experience/interest in issues related to access in higher education for underserved populations;
  • Industry, consulting, and/or advocacy experience, consistent with SPS’ scholar-practitioner model;
  • Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills;
  • Outstanding leadership, organizational, and project management skills;
  • Experience with building partnerships and/or conducting outreach initiatives;
  • Strong research and writing skills;
  • Entrepreneurial nature and comfort with ambiguity;
  • Zeal for continuous learning and appetite for creative thinking;
  • Ability to work independently with limited supervision and in teams, as well as to meet tight deadlines;
  • Track record of handling sensitive information with highest level of professionalism and confidentiality;
  • Strong interpersonal and presentation skills; proven capacity to communicate and present information in front of varied audiences at a sophisticated level;
  • Proficiency with the Microsoft Office Suite of programs (Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, Visio);
  • Capacity to adapt quickly to changing circumstances;
  • Willingness and ability to travel and to work non-traditional hours

Preferred Qualifications

  • Earned doctorate in a discipline related to the academic offerings at SPS
  • Experience in teaching working professionals in degree and/or non-degree settings

Applicants please apply at: