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University of Arizona
Posted: 03/11/2019
Senior Vice President - Research and Innovation

Opportunity Overview

The University of Arizona (UA) seeks an outstanding individual for the new position of Senior Vice President Research and Innovation (“SVP”) reporting to the President of the University, Robert C. Robbins, MD. The SVP will have principal responsibility to lead, stimulate, and nurture the culture and capacity for knowledge creation and discovery at the University, creating industry and public partnerships, and moving inventions and technologies to the marketplace. The SVP’s goals will include increasing total research funding and expanding the University’s reputation as the premier innovation center in the Southwest.

To accomplish this ambitious assignment the SVP will work to (i) integrate research and development funding across government, commercial, and not-for-profit funding sources to bolster new discoveries; (ii) manage the University’s Office of Research, the Corporate Engagement Programs, Tech Launch Arizona, and the University’s research parks and Center for Innovation; (iii) bring discoveries to market through collaborative research, licenses to growth companies and creation of new companies; and (iv) enhance the innovation economy in southern Arizona. These goals will be achieved in close collaboration with the Provost and other members of the Senior Leadership Team to ensure strong alignment to the academic program and broader mission of the University.

In the near and mid-term, the SVP’s aspirational goals include:

■ Growing the University’s externally-funded research programs and increasing its scholarly, economic, and social relevance;

■ Working with University faculty and business leaders to complete signature deals and streamline contractual engagements with commercial and not-for-profit partners which build on the University’s areas of excellence;

■ Working with faculty to increase invention disclosures;

■ Accelerating license agreements with both new and established companies;

■ Increasing the number of start-ups which achieve substantial first round, professional funding; and

■ Further developing the regional ecosystem for innovation, new company creation, alignment with major outside organizations, and linkages to other research and educational institutions.

For this challenging opportunity, President Robbins seeks a leader who has a keen understanding of the research/innovation process from inception to commercialization, the ability to marshal the University’s resources and create major partnerships with external organizations, the ability to lead through influence and persuasion in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity, and the acumen to understand and use the University’s intellectual capital to achieve greater connectivity with external collaborators.

The SVP will be fluent in science across traditional disciplinary boundaries and will have a successful track record spotting, conceptualizing, and commercializing opportunities for greater impact by molding together programs and research from a variety of disparate groups and completing large scale partnership deals. The SVP must also possess the ability to integrate efforts by faculty, students, staff, and executive leaders to move discoveries into use for the benefit of the University, Arizona, and the nation.


The SVP will be goal-driven, demonstrate strong commitment to achieving UA’s broad goals, and will be adept at working with leading researchers, senior executives, boards of major organizations, and investors. He/she must have the capacity to understand the complexities of an AAU research university with an affiliated health system and the ability to anticipate and articulate the critical issues, opportunities, and threats in the foreseeable future.

Significant experience working with or in private industry, strategy development, business development, investing, corporate partnerships, alliance management and university research is required.

The best candidates will also have the following capabilities and personal attributes:

■ Exemplary leadership skills with a record of achieving results;

■ Participatory management and leadership styles that model the values of service, initiative, and collaboration;

■ Thoughtful risk-taking which relies data and input from others to foresee possible threats or unintended consequences from decisions;

■ Strong communication and advocacy skills, equally effective with both internal and external constituents;

■ A problem-solving style based on personal integrity, professional confidence, and excellent relationship management skills;

■ Nuanced business judgment and personal maturity; and

■ Strong ethics and high integrity.

Procedure for Candidacy

Please send a cover letter and resume in confidence to:

Or reach out directly to the consultants leading this engagement:

Nick Brill | Partner

+1 617 932 7945

Jennifer Biehn | Partner

+1 303 309 0360

Ora Smith | Principal

+1 614 314 1580