Director, Pre-Award - Office of Research Services

Director, Pre-Award - Office of Research Services

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn's distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning. As an employer Penn has been ranked nationally on many occasions with the most recent award from Forbes who named Penn one of America's Best Employers By State in 2021.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

COVID-19 vaccination is a requirement for all positions at the University of Pennsylvania. New hires are expected to be fully vaccinated before beginning work at the University. For more information about Penn's vaccine requirements and the use of Penn Open Pass, visit the Penn COVID-19 Response website for the latest information.

Posted Job Title
Director, Pre-Award - Office of Research Services

Job Profile Title
Director D

Job Description Summary
The Office of Research Services (ORS) manages Penn's federal and foundation research portfolio for proposal submission, contracting, post award management and closeout. Additionally, ORS provides financial oversight including billing, closeout and collections for Penn's industry sponsored research and clinical trials The total portfolio under management is greater than $1 billion annually. ORS consists of several departments that manage these processes including Pre-Award services, Post-Award Services, Electronic Research Administration, Operations and Cash Management, Costing, Export Compliance, and Research Reporting. The Directors of these units work closely together to ensure consistent, excellent service to the Penn research community.

The Director of Pre-Award services serves as the senior team member and people leader for the department. The role serves as a senior grants or contract expert and leader, providing training and guidance to the team on all matters related to grants review, contract and subcontract negotiation, interpretation, compliance, and general administration on all matters related to Pre-Award and Non-Financial Post-Award of sponsored research proposals.

The Director will provide supervision and management of a diverse team of ORS staff members and is responsible for monitoring and reporting performance of staff to the AVP.

The Director provides action-oriented and expert support to Principal Investigators (PIs) and handles specific contract and audit issues with integrity and accuracy. The Director must master a wide range of complex operational and administrative matters and demonstrate a detailed understanding of the organization and functions of academic departments, organizational research units, and other campus units involved in research administration.

The Director must be familiar with and maintain external regulations and University academic policies and administrative standards. They will work closely with peers within ORS and across Penn to ensure efficient operations and minimized burden to researchers They will work with internal and external peers to develop and provide training on research administration and federal regulatory requirements to the Penn Community. The Director will manage a portfolio of grants or contracts and be the point of contact for sponsoring agencies and serve as a liaison for the institution as needed.

The Director will be expected to consistently model and practice Penn's leadership competencies of Leadership, Managing Conflict, Managing Performance and Working Collaboratively. The demonstrated ability to lead, manage and develop others, articulate a vision that inspires commitment from others, all in a supportive and dynamic higher education environment is required for this role.

In the Division of Finance, we recognize diversity and inclusion is paramount to a positive and thriving work environment; it is a business imperative. We are committed to actively fostering diversity, inclusion and cultural competency throughout our research, development, and operational efforts in the Division of Finance. This role will be critical in supporting those efforts and demonstrating behaviors and competencies that reflect Penn's values.

We take pride in the myriad ways that diversity enriches our curriculum, and the cultural and social life of our campus. Penn's commitment to achieving eminence through diversity is ultimately a commitment to creating a more vibrant university so that our graduates will be both stimulated and empowered to shape a better world.

Job Description

Pre-Award and Nonfinancial Post-Award Administration Oversight

1. Provide exceptional and ethical people leadership to a diverse team of ORS staff members. Oversees and manages daily operations as well as team vision, goals and ongoing performance and competency measurement of ORS staff members in all matters related to grants or contracts ensuring a consistent quality of work across all staff and adherence to sponsor and Penn's policies and procedures.

2. Monitors performance of staff and utilizes metrics and feedback from customers to provide monthly reports to senior leadership. Consistently model and practice Penn's leadership competencies of Leadership, Managing Conflict, Managing Performance and Working Collaboratively. Consistently demonstrate the ability to lead, manage and develop others, articulate a vision that inspires commitment from others, all in a supportive and dynamic higher education environment.

3. Addresses staff development and performance needs of the staff and promotes research administration training and ongoing performance appraisal assessment

4.Proactively evaluates opportunities to enhance existing processes and provide improved service to client units and University partners.

Communication and Customer Focus

1.Meets with School and department leadership departments on a quarterly and as-needed basis to ensure proper levels of support and service level delivery.

2.Provides exceptional customer service that aligns with Division of Finance and ORS values and goals.

3.Proactively addresses concerns or needs of assigned Divisions and departments

4. Acts professionally and calmly at all times when interacting with others; consistently demonstrates concern and courtesy towards colleagues and customers; treats all people respectfully; takes personal responsibility for correcting problems; follows up with individuals to ensure satisfaction with the level of service they have received. Works well with members of the University community (e.g., students, faculty, staff). Remains calm in stressful situations. Demonstrates pleasant disposition that puts people at ease.

Research Management and Service Delivery

1.Manages a limited sponsored research portfolio with accuracy and precision.

2.Monitors regulatory and compliance requirements for all sponsored research activity and maintains all proper and necessary documentation using various tools, technologies, programs and applications.

3.Maintains current working knowledge of federal regulations and sponsor policies to ensure the responsible conduct of research at Penn

4.Serves as liaison between Penn and funding sponsor independently as needed.

Policy Dissemination and Training Delivery

1. Leads efforts in identifying training needs and developing training materials to ensure staff are able to provide excellent customer service and service delivery standards in alignment with the goals and values of ORS and Penn

2.Partners with ORS staff to present information and training sessions on Pre- Award policies and procedures.

3.Interprets and communicates Pre-Award policies, systems, procedures, and programs.


A Bachelor's Degree and 7 years of experience or equivalent combination of education and experience is required. 7+ years of relevant experience


Detailed knowledge of the administrative components of a proposal including: understanding of standard proposal requirements, terms, and conditions; budget development and resource requirements; bio-sketches; facilities pages; and sub-awards.

Previous experience working with clinical research and industry and/or government contracting, and familiarity and understanding of best practices for project and contract management.

Detailed knowledge of applicable federal, state and other sponsor regulations related to sponsored projects.

Ability to work independently in a team environment, take ownership of the resolution of problems, be flexible and accountable, manage conflicting responsibilities, prioritize tasks and consistently meet deadlines.

Advanced user skills with Excel and other Microsoft programs and computer systems. Excellent interpersonal, communication and presentation skills. Demonstrated ability to be detail-oriented and accurate.

Able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Demonstrated organizational and prioritization skills, along with the ability to work within tight and often conflicting deadlines. Must be flexible, show effective judgement, discretion and have the ability to handle confidential financial matters.

Work effectively in a highly matrixed and decentralized environment with the ability to navigate through ambiguity and demonstrate appreciation and support for diversity, inclusion and belonging in a constantly evolving academic/higher education environment.

A cover letter is required for applicants and should be included in the resume submission in Workday.

Job Location - City, State
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School
Division of Finance

Pay Range
$88,861.00 - $142,178.33

Affirmative Action Statement
Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements
Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

University Benefits
  • Health, Life, and Flexible Spending Accounts: Penn offers comprehensive medical, prescription, behavioral health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits to protect you and your family's health and welfare. You can also use flexible spending accounts to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
  • Tuition: Take advantage of Penn's exceptional tuition benefits. You, your spouse, and your dependent children can get tuition assistance here at Penn. Your dependent children are also eligible for tuition assistance at other institutions.
  • Retirement: Penn offers generous retirement plans to help you save for your future. Penn's Basic, Matching, and Supplemental retirement plans allow you to save for retirement on a pre-tax or Roth basis. Choose from a wide variety of investment options through TIAA and Vanguard.
  • Time Away from Work: Penn provides you with a substantial amount of time away from work during the course of the year. This allows you to relax, take vacations, attend to personal affairs, recover from illness or injury, spend time with family-whatever your personal needs may be.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: In partnership with Genworth Financial, Penn offers faculty and staff (and your eligible family members) long-term care insurance to help you cover some of the costs of long-term care services received at home, in the community or in a nursing facility. If you apply when you're newly hired, you won't have to provide proof of good health or be subject to underwriting requirements. Eligible family members must always provide proof of good health and are subject to underwriting.
  • Wellness and Work-life Resources: Penn is committed to supporting our faculty and staff as they balance the competing demands of work and personal life. That's why we offer a wide variety of programs and resources to help you care for your health, your family, and your work-life balance.
  • Professional and Personal Development: Penn provides an array of resources to help you advance yourself personally and professionally.
  • University Resources: As a member of the Penn community, you have access to a wide range of University resources as well as cultural and recreational activities. Take advantage of the University's libraries and athletic facilities, or visit our arboretum and art galleries. There's always something going on at Penn, whether it's a new exhibit at the Penn Museum, the latest music or theater presentation at the Annenberg Center, or the Penn Relays at Franklin Field to name just a few examples. As a member of the Penn community, you're right in the middle of the excitement-and you and your family can enjoy many of these activities for free.
  • Discounts and Special Services: From arts and entertainment to transportation and mortgages, you'll find great deals for University faculty and staff. Not only do Penn arts and cultural centers and museums offer free and discounted admission and memberships to faculty and staff. You can also enjoy substantial savings on other goods and services such as new cars from Ford and General Motors, cellular phone service plans, movie tickets, and admission to theme parks.
  • Flexible Work Hours: Flexible work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal commitments. These approaches involve use of non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures.
  • Penn Home Ownership Services: Penn offers a forgivable loan for eligible employees interested in buying a home or currently residing in West Philadelphia, which can be used for closing costs or home improvements.
  • Adoption Assistance: Penn will reimburse eligible employees on qualified expenses in connection with the legal adoption of an eligible child, such as travel or court fees, for up to two adoptions in your household.

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