Vice President for Research

PDF icon Download the prospectus The Search Committee invites letters of interest and nominations to be submitted directly to the search firm, Anthem Executive. Correspondence should include a curriculum vitae and a letter of interest describing relevant experience and interest in the position, and should be submitted to Scott Watson, Michael Ballew, J.R. Wheless, or Florene Stawowy at:

While applications and nominations will be accepted until the position is filled, interested parties are encouraged to submit their materials ASAP to assure optimal consideration.

The opportunity

Wayne State University (Wayne State/WSU), a premier public research university in the heart of Detroit, invites nominations and applications for the position of Vice President for Research (VPR).

Overview of WSU campus with students walking around

The Vice President for Research serves as a member of the university's executive leadership team, reporting directly to the President, and works closely with the Provost and other members of the President’s Cabinet. The Vice President for Research is responsible for leading an office to mobilize and enhance Wayne State University's research capabilities and productivity; facilitating successful competition for external funding; and successfully demonstrating WSU's expertise in knowledge generation to respond to the regional and state needs of government, business, organizations and individuals. The Office of the Vice President for Research also establishes and implements research policies and procedures, analyzes and disseminates research productivity data, and represents the university's research interests to operations and organizations outside the university.

Wayne State is Michigan’s only urban research university, and holds the Carnegie Foundation’s highest ranking for both research intensiveness and community engagement. Wayne State’s research and development expenditures totaled nearly $242.2 million in fiscal year 2022 — a 10.9% increase since 2014. Based on NSF data, Wayne State ranked 72nd among public universities and 108th among all universities in FY21 research expenditures.

Wayne State has world-class research programs in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, education, law and humanities. The VPR will work closely with schools and colleges to expand external funding opportunities and to support faculty research and collaborations.

The role

As the senior research officer of the university, the Vice President for Research is responsible for collaborating with relevant constituencies to develop and implement a vision, plan and policies to guide and expand the university's research portfolio, and work with faculty to oversee critical aspects of the university's research infrastructure and operations.
Direct reports to the Vice President for Research currently include five assistant/associate vice presidents, five directors, and one staff member within the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR). The Division of Research consists of Sponsored Programs Administration, the Office of Research Compliance, the Division of Laboratory Animal Research, and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. Four of the university’s 29 centers and institutes also report to the Vice President for Research. For more information on the operations of the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Interior of the iBio building with students working

Opportunities and expectations for leadership

The university is committed to ensuring that Wayne State advances its role as a world leader in discovery and knowledge application. To do so, WSU will increase strategic integrative research foci and nurture the broad ecosystem for scholarly inquiry, discovery, creativity and knowledge application by integrating academic strengths with the university’s community engagement mission and urban location. The research ecosystem is a key driver for economic growth, for the revitalization of Detroit, and for addressing real-world challenges in rapidly evolving urban environments across the globe.
Engaging students at all levels enhances the research mission, as well as students’ academic experience
and career preparation.

In support of the mission and strategic plan of the university, the next VPR will be tasked with the following opportunities and expectations:

Leadership with vision

  • Play a critical role in working with departmental research faculty and centers to align and enhance their areas of strength.
  • Be a thought leader within the university and a catalyst for fresh, innovative ideas about how to increase the scope and impact of WSU research, focusing on the university’s urban community and extending far beyond.
  • Help chart the course to establish WSU as a leader in addressing local, national and international issues.

Serve as a passionate advocate and effective spokesperson

  • Champion all of WSU's research initiatives as an effective communicator who can translate data into a compelling story to motivate internal and external stakeholders, including state and federal legislators, nonprofit organizations, governmental organizations, and private industry.
  • Be a prominent leader at WSU, and an advocate within Detroit, the state and beyond as an advocate for the university’s mission to contribute significantly to generalizable knowledge that has positive local, regional, state, national and international impact.

Collaborate with the departments, centers, research units, schools and colleges

  • Demonstrate a collegial and cooperative approach to learning and leveraging the strengths of each WSU entity to mobilize their distinctive qualities, assets, accomplishments and possibilities.
  • Strategically allocate resources, and revise, where necessary, WSU processes and procedures, to facilitate advancement, boost effectiveness and creating more nimble operations of WSU's research infrastructure.
  • Oversee a team that recognizes the unique needs of each of WSU's research units and supports them accordingly in order to best capitalize on their current momentum while encouraging them to break down silos and collaborate in multidisciplinary efforts across the university.

Boost programs and actions for funding research

  • Strategically seek out and increase funding for research from all organizations and institutions, including federal (NSF, NIH, NEH, DOD, etc.), state, business and foundation groups.
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding and appreciation of faculty experience.
  • Collaborate closely with the academic deans across STEM and non-STEM areas to develop and improve support systems to motivate faculty in their quest for external funding and increased productivity, thus identifying and enabling new opportunities for research support.
  • Interact regularly with important research stakeholders — in particular with city, state and federal organizations — to build and maintain relationships with program directors, lobbyists, elected leaders and other influential figures who can support WSU's drive to constantly improve its research portfolio and climb in research rankings.

Strengthen the research infrastructure

  • Collaborate closely with school and college leadership, faculty and other university administrators to plan the acquisition, modernization, effectiveness, support and operation of key research instrumentation, centers and units, while assuring that there are adequate management personnel for core research facilities.

Generate real-world impact

  • Partner with the university leadership, particularly the Provost, and the Vice Presidents for Economic Development and Government and Community Affairs, to leverage the university’s research resources — its students, faculty skills, research capabilities and creative assets — to implement the university’s Economic Impact Strategy.
  • Create innovative partnerships between university researchers, labs and centers and their counterparts to promote growth and diversity in the region, while building on core research strengths of the university.

Key responsibilities

Specifically, in connection with the above, the VPR will:

  • Oversee the work of the OVPR, Integrative Biosciences, Sponsored Program Administration, Research Compliance, Research Communications, Research Development, Translational Sciences and Clinical Research Innovation, Division of Laboratory Animal Research, Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics (dual with School of Medicine), Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Institute of Gerontology, and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute.
  • Develop and implement a vision, plan and policies to guide the university's broad research portfolio in achieving the research goals of the university through regular consultation with researchers and research advisory groups across the campus.
  • Work closely with colleges, schools and centers to advance the broad research mission of Wayne State University.
  • Develop innovative ways to support faculty in seeking grant opportunities.
  • Develop strategies to ensure the necessary research infrastructure is available and aligned with existing research strengths and emerging research opportunities.
  • Ensure compliance with all federal, state and university regulations governing research, and ensure that research is conducted according to the highest ethical standards.
  • Work closely with the Provost and research faculty and advisory groups in the schools, colleges and centers to develop, refine and implement a university-wide vision and strategic plan to strengthen the university’s research portfolio and raise its research ranking.
  • Work with the Office of the Provost to strengthen research within the academic programs, departments and centers or institutes.
  • Work with the Graduate School to recruit top doctoral students.
  • Promote multidisciplinary and translational research opportunities across the university, as well as identify, develop and nurture innovation, collaboration, and strategic research initiatives.
  • Partner with TechTown, the university’s affiliated business incubator and accelerator, to encourage the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem both within WSU and across the region.
  • Participate on the steering committee for the Office of Business Innovation, the university’s central resource for student entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and corporate relations.
  • Serve as a member of the leadership team for the University Research Corridor, an alliance of
  • Michigan’s three leading research institutions.
  • Serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet, the senior leadership team of the university, sharing common university-wide goals and accountability with other team members.
  • Develop, oversee, implement, fund and assess research initiatives as identified in and aligned with the university’s strategic plan; participate in strategic planning efforts.
  • Advise the President, Provost and Deans on research initiatives, policy and operations.
  • Communicate research results and information to research faculty, university administrators, and other internal and external research constituencies.
  • Cultivate relationships with governmental granting and regulatory agencies and industry to aid in
  • improving WSU’s research efforts and identification of research opportunities.
  • Foster an environment that recognizes research excellence, collegiality, and scholarship across the university.

Professional qualifications and key attributes

  • A doctorate from a research university.
  • Broad experience with externally funded research.
  • A record as an investigator of distinction with intellectual stature and research credentials demonstrating accomplishment at a level commensurate with the rank of full professor in field of scholarship and research.
  • Administrative leadership experience in a relevant research environment, leading complex research teams and organizations.
  • Demonstrated success in technology transfer and commercialization efforts.
  • Demonstrated success as an administrator and fiscal manager.
  • Demonstrated experience in working at the federal level on research initiatives, challenges and policies.
  • Record of success in procuring and managing sponsored research programs.
  • Experience in research policy formation, compliance issues and implementation.
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with academic departments and programs, including graduate programs and entities such as the Graduate School, and to promote university-wide interdisciplinary research efforts.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, including a clear commitment to transparency.
  • Demonstrated success in fostering student opportunities for research, with evidence of student- focused and service-minded leadership.
  • Demonstrated commitment to shared governance and close collaboration with faculty.
  • Demonstrated ability to build strong relationships with business and industry.
  • Commitment to the mission and purpose of an urban public research university and ability to work with a culturally diverse population.

Techtown building logoOutside of the tech town buildingsInside of a lab with a man holding a container with water sample

Research and Discovery

Wayne State University is one of the nation's pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world.

$93.5 million NIH awards rose nearly 9% from FY17 to FY22, $242.2 million Wayne State reported $242.2 million in research expenditures in FY22

2022-27 Strategic Plan

In January 2022, the Wayne State Board of Governors approved the university’s 2022-27 strategic plan, "Our Moment in Time." This plan reaffirms our core mission, builds upon our highly successful 2016-21 strategic plan, focuses on key elements of scholarship and engagement, and incorporates lessons learned from the pandemic. In keeping with the heart of everything we do, "Our Moment in Time" prioritizes student success and our impactful engagement with the city of Detroit and surrounding communities, as well as academic excellence, research that tackles real-world problems, interdisciplinary collaboration, and more. The plan focuses on WSU's long-term vision and goals in the following key areas: research and discovery; teaching, learning and student success; outreach and engagement; diversity, equity and inclusion; and financial sustainability and operational excellence.
Successful VPR candidates must be familiar with the research goals outlined in "Our Moment in Time," and how they tie into the larger goals of the university.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University, founded in 1868, is a nationally recognized public, urban research university in Detroit. Committed to educational opportunity, research and community enrichment, Wayne State serves a critical role in Michigan’s higher education landscape. It holds the highest Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching designations in both research and community engagement. Just as the city of Detroit is undergoing a renaissance, the university itself is in a time of significant transformation, strengthening its ability to serve students from Michigan and around the world. Wayne State University’s campus, located in the cultural center and historic district in the heart of Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood, encompasses approximately 200 acres. The university enrolls nearly 25,000 students, making it the third largest among Michigan’s 15 public universities and one of the largest in the nation. Wayne State boasts the most diverse student body among Michigan’s public universities, with students of widely diverse backgrounds from nearly every U.S. state and 79 countries. In a recent survey, Wayne State University students ranked the campus diversity highest among a list of campus strengths.

The university’s comprehensive academic programs are offered through 13 schools and colleges:

Wayne State University is Detroit’s seventh-largest employer, with more than 7,600 regular employees and more than 2,000 student employees. Wayne State has 2,701 faculty members — 1,729 of whom are full-time — and nearly 5,000 staff members. Approximately two-thirds of faculty and staff are represented by one of the 13 unions on campus. Wayne State University has nearly 300,000 alumni throughout the country, with about 75% living and working in Michigan.

Wayne State University ranked 72nd among American public universities, according to the FY 2021 National Science Foundation Research rankings; its medical sciences, physics, chemistry, physical science and psychology programs and its law school rank in the top 100 nationwide. Annual research funding awarded in 2022 was nearly $288.4 million. Wayne State has a thriving research and technology park called TechTown Detroit and a number of partnerships with government, industry and business. The university houses one of 41 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers — the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute — as well as the NIH-funded Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors.

Wayne State University embraces its urban research mission by continuing to provide access and opportunity to higher education for students of all backgrounds. This commitment has made Wayne State a national leader in social mobility, ranked among the top five research universities nationally. This commitment also helps nurture the next generation of professionals who will use their education to advance the causes of civil rights and social justice in all threads of society and helps meet the needs of Michigan, especially Detroit and its surrounding communities.

basketball game at Wayne State Athletics gym
crowd shot with President Espy

Points of pride

  • Students attending the School of Medicine have access to a variety of educational resources through 11 affiliate hospitals, including Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.
  • A leader in green technology, the College of Engineering was first in the nation to launch an electric-drive vehicle engineering program and offer an alternative energy technology master's program.
  • Alumni of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts include a Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist and recipients of and nominees for the Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe, Obie, Screen Actors Guild and Caldecott awards.
  • The Hilberry Theatre is the nation's first and longest-running University graduate repertory theatre.
  • Wayne State Law School educates a substantial number of Michigan’s lawyers and jurists.
  • The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences anchors the institution with its research and internship partnerships in the city of Detroit, as well as its own museums and exhibits, which are open to the public.
  • Study-abroad opportunities are offered in 16 countries on five continents.

Learn more about Wayne State University by visiting the university website.

The community

Ariel view of campusDetroit is the largest city in Michigan and a major port on the Detroit River, an international waterway that connects the western Great Lakes to Lake Erie and the Saint Lawrence Seaway. In 2021, the city had a population of approximately 633,000, and the population of the surrounding metropolitan area is more than 5 million. The city’s population is primarily African American and is increasingly diverse, with new residents representing a spectrum of ages, races, and cultures, eager to participate in Detroit’s transformation. The southwest Detroit area has vibrant and growing Latino American communities, and the city of Dearborn has the largest Arab American community outside of the Middle East. The combined Detroit-Windsor (Ontario) metropolitan area, a critical commercial center on the U.S.-Canada border, has a total population of 5.7 million. About 25% of U.S.-Canadian trade crosses Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge, and a second bridge is under construction. Known as the nation’s traditional automotive center, Detroit is synonymous with the American automobile industry and an important source of popular music legacies celebrated in the city's two familiar nicknames, “The Motor City” and “Motown.”

Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood is home to Wayne State as well as to world-class museums, theatres, libraries, concert halls and professional sports venues. Among the cultural institutions within walking distance of the main campus are the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Michigan Science Center, the Fisher Theatre, Detroit Children’s Museum, the Detroit Public Theatre, the Detroit Historical Museum, and the acoustically magnificent Orchestra Hall. As Detroit has undergone a historical resurgence, Midtown has been at the heart of the growth.

Wayne State University promotes cooperation among Midtown’s three anchor institutions: Wayne State, Henry Ford Health System and the Detroit Medical Center. Wayne State has assumed leadership roles in collaborations designed to ensure public safety, promote local transportation, boost economic development and beautify the area. The university has committed millions to projects on and adjacent to the campus, changing Midtown’s landscape and ambience. This includes a new Integrative Biosciences Center (IBio), which will push the frontiers of multidisciplinary health sciences and attract faculty and economic development from across the nation.

Search committee

Name Title
Laurie Lauzon Clabo Acting Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Linda Beale Professor of Law
Cynthia Bir Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering
Amanda Bryant-Friedrich Dean of the Graduate School
Stephanie Hartwell Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Ed Cackett Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy
Paul Kilgore Professor of Pharmacy Practice
Gibson Kirui Chemistry Graduate Research Assistant
Lindsey Klee Executive Director of the Office of Business Innovation
Howard Matthew Professor of Chemical Engineering
Melissa Runge-Morris Director of the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Julie O’Connor Director of Research Communications
Donyale Padgett Interim Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
Boris Pasche Chair of the Department of Oncology
Sokol Todi Chair of the Department of Pharmacology

Procedure for candidacy & referrals

The Search Committee invites letters of interest and nominations to be submitted directly to the search firm, Anthem Executive. Correspondence should include a curriculum vitae and a letter of interest describing relevant experience and interest in the position, and should be submitted to Scott Watson, Michael Ballew, J.R. Wheless, or Florene Stawowy at:

While applications and nominations will be accepted until the position is filled, interested parties are encouraged to submit their materials ASAP to assure optimal consideration. Expressing interest is the first step in receiving consideration and does not make one an applicant for the position.

Old Main building exterior

Wayne State University is an equal opportunity employer. No person will be discriminated against or harassed in employment because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, arrest record, height, weight, sexual orientation, qualified Vietnam era veterans, qualified special disabled veterans, recently separated veterans and other protected veterans, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal or state law.

University policy requires certain persons who are offered employment to undergo a background check, including a criminal history check, before starting to work. If you are offered employment, the university will inform you if a background check is required.

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