Both Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report have named The Preuss School one of the best high schools in San Diego and the state of California. It is also recognized as one of the ten best charter schools in the country. Located directly on the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla, the school was founded in 1999 as a result of a commitment by the university to address the educational needs of low-income, first generation students in San Diego. This commitment includes providing a rigorous, college preparatory education for 850 students from grades six through twelve, making The Preuss School one of the nation’s most transformative charter schools.
The Preuss School is a division within UC San Diego and is also chartered by the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). It is a unique institution on a university campus with the overarching intent to serve as a model for high achievement among historically underrepresented and underserved communities and families. More than 90% of graduates are accepted to four-year colleges and universities, and almost 100% go on to some form of higher education.
Believing that it was the mission of a land-grant university to find ways to better prepare young students for admission and success at the university, then-Chancellor Robert Dynes brought the idea of a charter school before the Academic Senate in 1998. The senate agreed to the plan on the condition that the university secure funding and ensure the school is financially self-sufficient.
The first and most significant gift toward building the school came from Peter and Peggy Preuss and their family foundation. In recognition of their $5 million gift, the school was named The Preuss School UC San Diego. John Moores, the Walton Family Foundation, the Copley Family, Douglas Manchester, and the Coors Family also made significant gifts and key areas of the school are named in recognition of their critical support.
The Preuss School employs 45 teachers and 21 staff, all of whom are employees of UC San Diego. Students take eight subjects a year, compared to other public schools in the SDUSD which offer only seven. Additionally, the school day is longer, as is the school year, at 198 days. Students are admitted through a lottery system, and last year, for the first time, sibling preference was introduced. Parents are highly engaged in the life of the school and it is not unusual to see as many as 150 parents volunteering part of their Saturdays at the school.
In addition to academic rigor, The Preuss School practices a “wraparound” approach to support the emotional and social growth that will help ensure academic success. By demonstrating success in preparing low-income students for university admission, Preuss’s mission evolved to include student success in completing college and launching successful lives and careers.
The Preuss School has enjoyed 20 years of success and now faces the important challenge of defining its next stage while keeping its focus on preparing and graduating highly qualified students for admission to competitive institutions of higher education.
From its inception, The Preuss School has had one head, a Principal, charged with advancing the singular mission of the school. However, the complexity of school operations and financial pressures have grown both within K-12 and at the university. The position of Executive Director has been created to serve as the head of the school, reporting directly to the Executive Vice Chancellor (EVC) for Academic Affairs of UC San Diego.
This individual will work closely with the Principal, Chief Administrative Officer, Director of Development, Board of Directors, and the broader school community to develop and implement long-range plans that align with the school’s mission and strategic vision.
The Principal and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will report to the Executive Director and will be key strategists to ensure the school’s future success. The Principal will focus on the academic operations of the school and serve as a liaison to the SDUSD on academic issues. The CAO will focus on the administrative areas of the school and will be a liaison between the school and SDUSD on administrative matters.
Within the university, a Director of Development, a UC San Diego staff member, is tasked to work closely with the Executive Director and be responsible for active engagement of Preuss alumni and fundraising current-use and endowed gifts. The Director of Development will be considered part of the Executive Director’s cabinet while reporting to the Senior Executive Director of Development, Campus Initiatives.
The Executive Director is the public face of The Preuss School in the community, working to build a strong connection between the school and a wide variety of stakeholders. While a major focus of this opportunity is fundraising, donor relations, Board relations, and business operations to support advancing the academic achievement of the students, this position also involves managing all aspects of The Preuss School. The Executive Director is responsible for strategic planning and advising the Executive Vice Chancellor on issues related to overall success. Further, the Executive Director should be a strong advocate for the school and be able to articulate the needs of the students, parents, and staff. All employees of The Preuss School are employees of the University of California San Diego.
The Executive Director of The Preuss School has the following major responsibilities:
Works with the Executive Vice Chancellor (EVC), Board, and development staff on the strategic planning and implementation of a successful fund development plan, from cultivation through solicitation to stewardship.
Develops and maintains beneficial relationships with individual donors, institutional funders, supporters, and other stakeholders.
Serves as a key strategist to the EVC on Board relations, and creates an open and dynamic relationship with the Principal, the CAO, the Director of Development and the Board.
Serves as an ex-officio member of the Board and maintains regular communications with the Board.
Manages and has accountability for all functional, operational and budget operations for The Preuss School, including working closely with the CAO on development of the school budget.
Maintains a school environment founded in ethical and inclusive best practices.
Represents the school to the community, serves as the chief spokesperson for the school and maintains strategic community relationships. Examples include the SDUSD, San Diego County Office of Education, California Department of Education, and the California Charter School Association.
Stays informed and abreast of higher education issues, as well as issues affecting K-12 education and issues impacting the charter school community; with the Principal and CAO, leads the school through accreditation processes such as Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and charter renewal.
Provides expert leadership in developing strategies to ensure educational and regulatory compliance at all levels. Has authority to make decisions on behalf of the EVC within the Executive Director’s areas of responsibility.
Ensures that all programs are executed with a focus on strong results, and that appropriate metrics are used to evaluate effectiveness.
Ensures appropriate ongoing professional development of teachers and staff.
Oversees selection and evaluation of personnel to ensure the effective and efficient operations of The Preuss School.
To be successful, the Executive Director must bring the following experience and qualifications:
Bachelor’s degree in a related area with ten or more years of progressive management experience; an advanced degree is an advantage. Experience in an education-related environment is preferred.
Demonstrated experience in effective nonprofit funding strategies, including experience developing new and innovative funding sources and expanding donor base.
Accomplished leadership skills promoting an environment in which the highest standards of ethical and inclusive conduct are expected and supported.
Knowledge of and commitment to the issues surrounding the needs of low-income and first-generation students.
Demonstrated experience working with a large board of highly engaged community leaders, including reporting, advising, recruiting and ongoing board relations.
Broad knowledge of the organizational environment of higher education, large research universities, and K-12 institutions.
Ability to drive marketing and communications strategies to build awareness and organization outreach.
Understanding of financial analysis and reporting, human resources, and risk management.
Ability to compellingly articulate the school’s mission to multiple constituencies.
A management style and approach that embraces collaboration and shared decision making.
Success working in a complex organization with multiple, diverse stakeholders.
The Preuss School has retained Campbell & Company to conduct this search on its behalf. Marian DeBerry and Alexandra Catuara are leading this search. To be considered for this opportunity, please send a letter of interest, resume, and diversity statement to: