Executive Director, Office for Sponsored Research

Northwestern University (www.northwestern.edu) invites nominations and applications for the position of Executive Director of the Office for Sponsored Research (OSR). In this newly reconfigured role, the Executive Director is responsible for overseeing, developing, and enhancing University-wide pre-award and selected post-award management services. The range of research projects supported by OSR covers grants and contracts from government and private sources as well as clinical trials. In FY 2018, the University managed more than $700 million in research expenditures. For more information about OSR and Northwestern’s research activity, see https://osr.northwestern.edu.

Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Research, who in turn reports to the University’s Vice President for Research, the Executive Director will develop a vision for best-in-class sponsored-research services that both pursue the efficiencies that scale and standardization can provide and respects the tremendous breadth of disciplinary needs and funding sources that characterizes Northwestern. The Executive Director serves as the Institutional Official in all pre-award and non-financial post-award grants and contracts management areas, entailing signature authority on all proposals, awards, and other documents related to sponsored-project administration at the University.

The Executive Director oversees outreach to faculty and administrative staff through training, presentations and informal communications; facilitates excellent working relationships between research administration staff in the Office for Sponsored Research, the schools, and other Office for Research units; guides continued development of electronic systems and the OSR website; and contributes to the interaction with federal agencies and other institutions to promote awareness of the national research agenda and solve common problems. OSR’s current staff complement is approximately 50 FTEs; its operating budget is $8 million.

Qualified candidates will have demonstrated working knowledge of federal grant and contract administration, practices related to the protection of intellectual property rights, and an understanding of the mission and principles of research universities.  Previous work experience (at least five years) must have been in the administration of sponsored research at a major research university, in the federal government, or at another entity engaged in sponsored research. Experience in negotiating government and corporate contracts is required, as is demonstrated expertise in Uniform Guidance. Candidates should bring experience supervising and motivating professional and administrative staff in a team environment as well as proven ability to produce and deliver educational and training curricula and complex information to diverse audiences at all levels of the institution.

A Bachelor’s degree is required, a Master’s degree preferred. Additional qualifications include proven experience in change management and a deep understanding of clinical trials agreements, cost-accounting principles, conflict of interest issues, and effort reporting.

Northwestern University is a private research-intensive doctoral institution founded in 1851. It uniquely combines the assets of several kinds of academic institution – the power of a major research university, the creative energy of arts and music conservatories, the intimacy of a liberal arts college, the rich diversity of an international institution, exceptional professional schools, and the excitement of Big Ten athletics. The University is global in its scope, with 12 schools and colleges located on two campuses in Illinois (in Evanston and in Chicago) and one in Doha, Qatar.  Ranked 11th among national universities by U.S. News and World Report, Northwestern has approximately 3,344 full-time faculty and 7,100 full-time staff.


Northwestern University is an Affirmative Action / EEOC employer. Women and members of minority groups are encouraged to apply.

Opus Partners is assisting Northwestern University in this search. Please contact Craig Smith, Partner, or Marisea Rivera, Senior Associate, to apply or to seek additional information: craig.smith@opuspartners.net / marisea.rivera@opuspartners.net.