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Director of Programs, Spears Institute (HR title: Executive Program Director) at Southern Methodist University Inc in Dallas, Texas

Posted in Other 30+ days ago.

Job Description:


Salary Range:

Salary commensurate with experience and qualifications

About SMU

SMU's more than 12,000 diverse, high-achieving students come from all 50 states and over 80 countries to take advantage of the University's small classes, meaningful research opportunities, leadership development, community service, international study and innovative programs.

SMU serves approximately 7,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students through eight degree-granting schools: Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Cox School of Business, Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts, Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Dedman School of Law, Perkins School of Theology and Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

SMU is data driven, and its powerful supercomputing ecosystem - paired with entrepreneurial drive - creates an unrivaled environment for the University to deliver research excellence.

Now in its second century of achievement, SMU is recognized for the ways it supports students, faculty and alumni as they become ethical, enterprising leaders in their professions and communities. SMU's relationship with Dallas - the dynamic center of one of the nation's fastest-growing regions - offers unique learning, research, social and career opportunities that provide a launch pad for global impact.

SMU is nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to academic freedom and open inquiry.

About the Department:

Leveraging the vibrant culture of free enterprise in North Texas, the William S. Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership enhances the business ventures of SMU students and faculty and the wider region, supports the academic and professional pursuits of students and faculty, and brings to North Texas Expertise in the areas critical to the growth and development of the Dallas business community.

About the Position:

This role is an on-campus, in-person position.

The William S. Spears Institute seeks an Executive Program Director to be responsible for strategizing, developing, and executing programs that engage students in entrepreneurship. The institute was formed in 2022 to help SMU undergraduate and graduate students and alumni from any field of study create new ventures and foster an ecosystem that improves the lives and economic prosperity of the North Texas community. The Executive Program Director will foster an environment that nurtures innovation, facilitates the launch of student-led start-ups, and builds strong networks with industry leaders, alumni, and investors. This role focuses primarily on stakeholder engagement through the development of programs that serve SMU undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and the broader community, ensuring they are executed to a high standard.

Essential Functions:

  • Program Management: Develop and implement strategies to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among students. Identify opportunities for the Institute to lead in cutting-edge areas of entrepreneurship education and start-up support. Design, launch, and manage a highly complex portfolio of programs, including a speaker series, internships, seminars, networking events and competitions.

  • Secure funding and manage resources efficiently and support program activities. Explore grants, sponsorships, and donations to ensure the sustainability and growth of the Institute's programs, collaborating with senior leaders at the university and college levels to identify and pursue opportunities. Oversee daily operations, including leadership of interns and student workers.

  • Establish and maintain partnerships with faculty, corporations, entrepreneurs, investors, and alumni to provide mentorship, funding, and real-world opportunities for students and start-ups. Represent the program to program officers at not-for-profit institutions, director/VP-level corporate leaders, existing start-up entrepreneurs, etc.

  • Actively engage with undergraduate and graduate students across SMU (all colleges) to understand their needs, interests, and aspirations related to entrepreneurship. Provide guidance, support, and resources to student entrepreneurs and start-ups.

  • Develop, implement, analyze, and evaluate metrics to assess performance of programs and initiatives, adjusting as necessary to enhance outcomes.  The Executive Program Director will provide budget input to the Executive Director and will be responsible for tracking the cost of individual programs and ensuring budget adherence.

  • Community Building: Cultivate a vibrant, inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem within the university, encouraging collaboration among students, faculty, and external partners.  This role will interact with senior staff and faculty across campus as it relates to the coordination and delivery of programs (e.g., all colleges, Engaged Learning, Hegi Family Career Center).

  • Position requires regular evening or weekend work for events, workshops, corporate treks, meetings, and networking engagements. The position will need to oversee all of these events.


Education and Experience:

Bachelor's degree is required. Master's preferred. A degree in Education, Business, Entrepreneurship, or closely related field desired.

A minimum of six years of professional experience in entrepreneurship, business development, and/or educational program management is required, preferably in a higher education setting.

Experience managing large events is also required. Experience in student engagement at the undergraduate and/or graduate level preferred.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

Candidate must demonstrate strong interpersonal and verbal communication skills to engage with a diverse range of individuals and develop effective relationships with a wide range of constituencies. Must also demonstrate strong written communication skills. Strong networking skills and the ability to develop partnerships with external stakeholders are 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.

Candidate must have strong leadership and management skills, with a proven track record of building and leading teams. Must also have a strong understanding of the start-up ecosystem, including the challenges and opportunities faced by new entrepreneurs. Demonstrated ability to develop and implement strategic plans and programs is essential.

Candidate must have a strong working knowledge of Microsoft Suite (e.g. Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint) and Adobe InDesign. Experience in customer database management (e.g., Salesforce), internet research, electronic event management tools (e.g. Constant Contact, Vertical Response, etc.) and familiarity with Linked-in, Instagram and other social networking tools is also required.

Physical and Environmental Demands:

  • Sit for long periods of time

Deadline to Apply:

The position is open until filled.

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.
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