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Executive Director of Strategic Research Initiatives Search

The Position

The Executive Director of Strategic Research Initiatives serves in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (SVPAA) with direct links to the Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR). The position will serve as a coordinator and facilitator for building and strengthening research and awards related to University of Utah (UU) campus-wide priorities, such as the Fair and Equitable Society Initiative. As part of this framework, the position is expected to grow and help seek funding for comprehensive, university-wide collaborations that emphasize multidisciplinary arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, and education research, alongside intersectional inquiry and grand challenges in fields that advance the University’s Fair and Equitable Society initiatives. The position will also develop a campus-wide robust award nomination process, including increased recognition of University excellence in arts, humanities, social sciences, education, and related social justice fields. The University is deeply committed to enhancing the success of diverse faculty, students, and staff as part of our broader goal to enrich the educational experiences and success of all members of our university community. This is a limited-term position. The Executive Director of Strategic Research Initiatives serves at the pleasure of the SVPAA.

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Job responsibilities of the Director of Strategic Research Initiatives will include:

  • Coordinate efforts to develop, direct, and facilitate research related to the Fair and Equitable Society Initiatives at the UU, including but not exclusive of campus-wide thematic semesters and seminars; thematic cluster hiring and retention; interdisciplinary seed grants between academic affairs and health sciences; partnerships that galvanize commitments for systemic change; and community partnerships and collaborations.
  • Champion and oversee scholarly activity at the UU focused on research in the arts, humanities, social sciences, education, health inequity and disparities, and related social justice fields.
  • Facilitate the creation of campus-wide investigative teams and connect them to foundations and other sources of external support for research in the humanities, arts, social sciences, education, health inequity and disparities, and related social justice fields.
  • Coordinate proposal development and/or other unmet grant infrastructure processes in fields that have not historically obtained significant extramural funding.
  • Generate a process and structure for national and international award nominations to increase recognition of research achievements in the arts, humanities, social sciences, education, health inequity and disparities, and related social justice fields at the UU, with the goal of extending these processes and structures to the campus-wide community.
  • Manage and oversee the University Research Committee, which provides ~$400,000 to support scholarly and creative research activities through the Faculty Small Grant Program; Faculty Fellow Awards; Distinguished Research Awards; and Community-Based Research Awards.
  • Coordinate campus community-engaged research efforts and develop and support additional opportunities that serve the citizens of Utah and the Intermountain West, drawing on the intellectual resources of the UU together with the rich layers of expertise in and among surrounding communities to solve problems of local, regional, and national interest.
  • Develop outcomes/impact assessments for arts, humanities, social sciences, education, health inequity and disparities, and related social justice fields.


  • PhD with leadership, team-building, and management experience
  • Scholarly accomplishments in arts, humanities, social sciences, education, or related fields
  • Experience with community engagement and social justice issues
  • Track record of obtaining funding and interacting with Foundations that support arts, humanities, social sciences and related disciplines
  • Strong and efficient writing skills
  • Demonstrated human relations and effective communication skills

About the Institution

The University of Utah is the state's flagship institution of higher education, with 18 schools and colleges, more than 100 undergraduate and 90 graduate degree programs, and an enrollment of more than 32,000 students. In 2019, the university joined the Association of American Universities, an invitation-only, prestigious group of 65 leading research institutions marked by excellence in academic expertise and research impact, student success, and securing resources in support of core missions.

A key mission of the university is to build an inclusive community that fosters a sense of belonging and well-being in which every student can thrive. The university is committed to removing barriers that have been traditionally encountered by individuals from underrepresented groups; strives to recruit faculty and staff who will further enhance our diversity; and makes every attempt to support their academic, professional, and personal success while they are here. The university recognizes that a diverse faculty and staff benefits and enriches the educational and professional experiences of the entire campus and greater community. This institution offers benefits to same-sex and to to different sex domestic partners, as well as to spouses. The university is located in Salt Lake City, a vibrant, major metropolitan area with a diverse, multicultural population and numerous cultural and outdoor activities. The city's robust array of diverse communities facilitates numerous opportunities for interaction with a range of civic and political organizations, give the city's role as the governmental and social nerve center of the state.

The university is uniquely situated to offer both unmatched outdoor and exciting urban experiences. While mountain vistas are only a few steps away and vast red-rock desert landscapes are within reach of a scenic afternoon drive, the campus also happens to be located in Utah's capitol city, one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing—economically and culturally—metropolises in the U.S.

With ready access to spectacular skiing, mountain biking, and hiking and a vibrant array of cultural, culinary, and entertainment venues, there is a lot going on just beyond the campus boundaries. Yet what's happening within the university's 1,535-acre hillside campus is even more compelling. At the U, as it is affectionately called, you'll find world-class research, education, and clinical care complemented by a lively social, cultural, and athletic campus experience.

An unparalleled work ethic and a spirit of entrepreneurship, collaboration, and community service. These qualities have enabled the U to innovate across many fields and pioneer new programs with social impact; generate pathbreaking discoveries; fuel critical research; and inspire innovative approaches to education.

The U strives to be a model public university in delivering unmatched value in higher education and health care while making social, economic, and cultural contributions that improve the quality of life throughout the state, the nation, and the world. The U's reputation for excellence draws top-tier faculty and attracts motivated students nationally and internationally. Students bring diverse experiences and outlooks – representing traditional and nontraditional students alike – thereby enhancing the exceptional educational experience the U offers.

Procedure for Candidacy

Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For fullest consideration, applicant materials should be received by Feb 21, 2021.

Candidates will need to submit an online application which includes a letter of application that addresses the responsibilities and requirements described in the posting, a CV, and a diversity statement. Applications can be submitted by following this link:

Nominations and inquiries about this position can be directed to search chair Sarah Projansky at