Vice President for Research & Economic Development
Application deadline: September 8, 2023
Senior Consultant: Ann Die Hasselmo
Consultant: Chris Butler
Associate Consultant: Kate Cusimano
The University of Alabama (UA) seeks a strategic and collaborative leader with a distinguished scholarly profile and enterprising spirit to serve as its Vice President for Research & Economic Development (VPRED). The VPRED is the chief research officer reporting directly to the president. As such, the position leads UA’s Office for Research & Economic Development, with oversight regarding all aspects of research development, contract and grant accounting, research compliance and ethics, and commercialization. The VPRED creates, catalyzes, and achieves institutional priorities, including state and federal legislative priorities, and leads strategic initiatives that establish and enhance excellence across a broad spectrum of research activities. To lead an ambitious vision for research growth, the University seeks a VPRED with a demonstrated record of excellence in receiving and managing competitive large-scale funded research projects; a visionary approach to interdisciplinary research; expertise and insight regarding the future direction of sponsored research, nationally and globally; and superior leadership and management skills. While maintaining a sharp focus on sponsored research growth, the VPRED collaborates with the provost and academic deans to foster research, scholarship, and creative activity across the breadth of the flagship campus, as well as strengthening UA’s ties with federal, state, foundation, industry funding sources, and other research universities in the University of Alabama System and state. The successful candidate plays a key role in attracting top research faculty to UA, and in supporting their research objectives. As a key member of the president’s leadership team, the VPRED guides large-scale investments in laboratories, centers, institutes, and research groups.
Located in the heart of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, The University of Alabama is one of the nation’s premier universities, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in nearly 200 fields of study. With more than 1,000 acres of tree-lined academic core campus and over 300 state-of-the-art facilities, UA is among the most beautiful and most inspiring college campuses in the state of Alabama, the South, and in the nation. In fall 2022, UA set a new enrollment record of 38,645 students, including the largest first-year student class to ever enroll. In addition, UA saw a record enrollment of students of ethnic and racial minorities with 8,542 students, a more than 2% increase from the previous year. UA is also a leader among public universities in the enrollment of national Merit Scholars, with a record 1,088 enrolled. The freshman class includes 322 National Merit Scholars. As the state’s flagship university, UA is among the top doctoral research universities in the United States and is classified as an R1 (Very High Research Activity) university in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Since 2015, UA has invested over $1.1 billion in the physical campus, adding more than 2.55 million gross square feet of space, over 150 new research-intensive faculty, signature research areas (e.g., the Alabama Research Institutes), and a growing number of partnerships with industry and with state and federal agencies. The University employs nearly 2,100 faculty and over 4,500 staff, with 52 UA researchers included in the National Academy of Inventors. An additional 34 current faculty have received the NSF CAREER Award, one of the nation’s most prestigious recognitions of top performing young scientists in disciplines ranging from nanoscience and engineering to biological sciences.
The UA Office for Research & Economic Development led the University-wide process to develop the Office for Research & Economic Development’s Five-Year Strategic Plan (2019-2024), having six strategic themes: 1) Research Environment, 2) Alabama Research Institutes, 3) Transformative Initiatives, 4) Translating Intellectual Property, 5) Economic and Business Engagement, and 6) Assessing Progress and Impact. Three annual progress reports have been published. By any measure, execution of the Strategic Plan has led to remarkable success.
For the ninth straight fiscal year, sponsored awards in 2022 were at an all-time high, increasing 23.6% to $211.4 million from 840 sponsored awards to UA. In the last four fiscal years (2018-2022), UA’s total sponsored awards increased by 113.3% (from $99.14 million in FY18 to $211.4 million in FY22). This growth rate strengthens UA’s position as one of the fastest growing research institutions in the nation. ORED’s Five-Year Strategic Plan had as a major goal to double UA’s research enterprise in five years and we achieved this goal in four years. UA’s R&D partnerships with industry grew by >500% from 2019 to 2022 with $2.9 million in 2019 to more than $15 million in 2022. The National Science Foundation Higher Education Research & Development (HERD) Survey for 2021 shows the growth rate of UA’s research enterprise, as measured by R&D expenditures from 2017 to 2021, was 105%. Based on this growth, UA is the #2 fastest growing research enterprise of all 146 Carnegie-designated R1 universities in the U.S.
The Office for Research & Economic Development includes the Offices for Contract & Grant Accounting, Economic & Business Engagement, Innovation & Commercialization, Research ASSIST, Research Communications, Research Compliance, Research & Technology Agreements, Sponsored Programs, UA Office for Export Controls, Alabama Life Research Institute, Alabama Transportation Institute, Alabama Water Institute, Alabama Analytical Research Center, Business Outreach Centers, Edge Labs, and a growing number of ambitious research centers under the Institute umbrellas. The cross-cutting research institute model was developed and is managed through the Office for Research & Economic development to bring together faculty, staff, and student expertise from across the university to tackle major research challenges and opportunities and to bring and focus major extramural funding to address these critical problems and further expand the research resources and activities of the university.
The Office for Research & Economic Development and their signature research institutes are leading transformative initiatives to benefit the University, state, and nation. For example, the Office and Alabama Transportation Institute recently led an effort to execute a major public-private partnership between UA, Alabama Power Company, and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International to establish the Alabama Mobility & Power Center (AMP Center). Governor Kay Ivey announced this partnership in July of 2021 with a $16.5 million investment to create the Smart Communities & Innovation Building to house the AMP Center, planned as a cornerstone for the New Electric Vehicle Economy. Another excellent example of the success of UA research institutes is the successful acquisition of the competitive $360 million Cooperative Institute award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, titled “Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH)” which was led by the Alabama Water Institute in April 2022. CIROH partners with NOAA’s National Water Center and USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility, both on UA’s campus, to collectively form the nation’s epicenter for the New Water Economy. Finally, one of the most recent examples of the transformative impact of the Office and the institutes on UA and its research and education efforts is the recent success they have had in securing more than $100 million in funding to support construction of the new UA High Performance Computing facility which will bring new world-class computing capabilities to campus to further expand computationally intensive research in areas including water, climate, and many more.
Tremendous advances in the research enterprise have set the stage for enhanced translational research activity and the framework for an entirely new model for university-industry-government partnerships to execute this model. The Office developed and launched the Tide Research Partnership Program, Intellectual Property Gap Fund, IP-2-Market Competition, and Market Engagement Program. Additionally, the Office led the University-wide process to develop the Five-Year Economic Development Priorities and Strategic Goals for The University of Alabama (2019-2024), which intentionally aligns with local (Chamber, City, Economic Development Authority) and statewide (Accelerate Alabama 2.0 and the “Next Campaign”) plans to emphasize common vision and shared goals.
UA’s research enterprise is thriving like few other research universities in the country, our next VPRED will have the opportunity to develop and enrich this impactful success and continue an amazing tradition of teaching, research, and service.
Additional information about UA is available in the search profile. Further information on the VPRED search can be found here. Applications should include a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, list of five professional references with full contact information, and a request for confidentiality, if desired. Contact with references will require the explicit permission of the candidate. Interested candidates can submit applications, nominations, and expressions of interest electronically, and in confidence, to: UAVPRED@academicsearch.org. Applications submitted by September 8, 2023, will receive full consideration.
Confidential discussions about this opportunity may be arranged by contacting Ann Die Hasselmo at Ann.Hasselmo@academicsearch.org or Chris Butler at Chris.Butler@academicsearch.org, consultants with Academic Search, Washington, D.C.
Further information about The University of Alabama is available at ua.edu. For more information on the Office for Research & Economic Development, visit research.ua.edu.
The University of Alabama is an Equal Employment/Equal Educational Opportunity Institution. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status, and will not be discriminated against because of their protected status. Applicants to and employees of this institution are protected under Federal law from discrimination on several bases.