Vice President for Research

Kalamazoo, Michigan
Jun 29, 2017
Executive Administration Jobs
Vice Presidents
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution




Vice President for Research


Western Michigan University (WMU) invites applications for the position of Vice President for Research. The Vice President for Research reports directly to the President and works closely with other Vice Presidents and the senior leadership team. The Vice President for Research oversees the Office of the Vice President for Research which is responsible for all aspects of the research enterprise at WMU, including research and sponsored programs, compliance and safety, and advancement of technology and innovation. In addition, the Vice President for Research is a member of the board of the Western Michigan University Research Foundation and of the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center. The successful candidate will be a strong collaborative leader who can develop a clear vision, implement strategic decisions and build on WMU’s strengths to support and grow the University’s research portfolio.


Founded in 1903, WMU is a learner-centered, discovery-driven, and globally-engaged research institution with an enrollment of 24,000, of whom nearly 5,000 are pursuing graduate degrees. Classified as a “higher research” university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, WMU offers more than 250 degree programs, including 31 at the doctoral level. Many of its degree programs enjoy national and international recognition. Committed to diversity in all its forms, the University attracts students from a rich variety of backgrounds and identities representing every state in the union and over 100 nations around the world.

Nearly 900 WMU Board-appointed faculty members have studied and earned degrees at many of the world’s leading universities. They engage in teaching, research, creative activity, and service primarily on the main campus in Kalamazoo and at 18 locations throughout the region and around the world. Additionally, WMU has a substantial online presence through its Extended University Programs and a wealth of articulation agreements with other institutions and international partnerships.

In 2014, in partnership with the community and two local teaching hospitals, WMU launched a private medical school, the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine. WMU also recently announced a formal affiliation with one of the nation’s largest and most diverse law schools, renamed the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

WMU is one of only 103 public institutions with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. For 26 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has listed Western Michigan University among that publication’s top national universities. Military Times EDGE magazine ranks WMU among the best U.S. institutions for military veterans, the only Michigan school to appear on its annual Best for Vets list all seven years of the list’s existence. Western regularly appears on Washington Monthly’s annual list of Top 100 National Universities, a designation that recognizes contributions to the public good. In addition, the University has been recognized nationally for its many award-winning sustainability programs and environmental leadership.

WMU has eight degree-granting colleges:

The Lee Honors College is home to more than 1,700 high-achieving students who are completing programs of study in every one of WMU’s seven undergraduate degree-granting colleges.

The faculty and staff of Western Michigan University are committed to fostering a learning environment that is rigorous, supportive, and inclusive. International students comprise eight percent of WMU’s diverse student body; students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups comprise 21 percent. One of WMU’s signature initiatives, the Seita Scholars program, provides scholarships to students who have aged out of the foster care system.

In 2016, U.S. News and World Report ranked seven graduate programs at Western Michigan University among the top 100 nationally; these include Occupational Therapy (#32), Rehabilitation Counseling (#37), Speech Language Pathology (#46), Audiology (#48), Physician Assistant (#57), and Social Work (#71). Other ranked graduate programs include Earth Sciences/Geosciences (#113), Public Affairs (#115), English (#125), History (#125), Education (#126), Art (#131), Clinical Psychology (#135) and Psychology (#141).

About Research at WMU

In recent years, annual research expenditures and awards have typically exceeded $20,000,000 to $25,000,000.  In 2017, three early career faculty representing Physics, Biological Sciences and Computer Science and Engineering received prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation, and a faculty member in World Languages and Literatures received the prestigious Yomiuri Prize for his Japanese poetry. In 2016-7, Western Michigan University tied for 10th place as a top national producer of Fulbright Scholars, with six awarded grants.

Other notable recent grants and prizes include a 2014 U.S. Department of Education First in the World award; a 2015 Autism Center of Excellence award from the Michigan Department of Community Health; a 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation grant supporting a Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities; a 2016 grant from the state of Michigan to support the Michigan Geological Survey; and a 2017 National Endowment for the Humanities Access matching grant.

About Kalamazoo

The city of Kalamazoo is located midway between Chicago and Detroit, 140 miles from each. With a population of more than 325,000, the Kalamazoo metropolitan area is large enough to support many of the amenities more commonly found in larger cities. The University hosts acclaimed arts programs and exhibitions, world-renowned speakers, and world-class musical and theater performances. Frequent collaborations with community groups and other local educational institutions add to the many rich cultural and intellectual opportunities offered.

According to a national study that considered relative affordability, housing, and employment opportunities, Kalamazoo is one of the 25 best cities in the country for young college graduates. It is also the home of the Kalamazoo Promise, which guarantees tuition to any public and many private Michigan colleges and universities to graduates of the Kalamazoo Public Schools—the largest program of its kind anywhere.


At Western Michigan University, the Vice President for Research is responsible for activities intended to facilitate and grow the research enterprise at the university.  These duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The vice president is a senior administrative officer, who reports to the president and is responsible for research and other related activities. The vice president works closely with the President, Research Policies Council of the Faculty Senate, and other university officials to devise and implement research strategies and policies for the University.
  • As the University’s chief research officer, the vice president for research advocates for sponsored research conducted under the auspices of Western Michigan University. The Office of the Vice President for Research is responsible for all aspects pre-award and non-financial post-award grant administration. Primary responsibility for liaison with extramural sponsors (including submission of the institution’s grant proposals) rests with the vice president.
  • As a member of the senior leadership team, the vice president for research plays an integral role in shaping the future for WMU and participates in University governance as a member of the Provost’s Council, the Research Policies Council and the Graduate Studies Council. The vice president serves as director of the WMU Research Foundation (WMURF) and the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center, and works closely with the technology transfer director, WMURF director of operations and the executive director of the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center.
  • The vice president works collaboratively and in close consultation with the provost and vice president for academic affairs, as well as the academic deans, chairs and faculty to ensure a university wide perspective on matters at the intersection of the academic mission and research, and to increase the number of grant submissions and research expenditures.
  • The vice president is responsible for the administration of all sponsored programs and the University’s compliance with sponsored programs-related regulations, including compliance with ethical and legal requirements related to expenditures, research findings, and treatment of animal and human subjects, while overseeing an office that is innovative, efficient, effective, timely and service-oriented.
  • The vice president will develop a bold and energetic expansion of University wide research strategies based on academic programs of excellence and lead the discovery-enhancing objectives of the University strategic plan The Gold Standard 2020.
  • The vice president will be expected to bring an entrepreneurial, synergistic research vision to establish national and international collaborative research partnerships at the University and to optimize and facilitate collaborative relationships of WMU faculty with state and federal funding agencies, private foundations and industry.   
  • The vice president is expected to foster and coordinate activities that promote participation of a broad range of individuals in research, scholarly, or creative activities that strengthen the research enterprise. 
  • The vice president will promote interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research collaborations and programs within the University community and with partner institutions.
  • The vice president will promote and facilitate development of intellectual property and technology transfer.
  • The vice president is expected to set standards and expectations for research success by measuring outcomes and providing benchmarks for continuous improvement.
  • The vice president will be expected to cooperate with the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed) Associate Dean for Research to enhance campus wide coordination of research and to ensure that annual reporting of research expenditures is inclusive of WMed's successes.


  • Terminal degree in a relevant discipline.
  • Recognized scholar with a record of significant research achievement to qualify for appointment at the rank of professor.
  • A record of strong, effective leadership and decision-making skills and experience in research administration at the middle to senior level.
  • Strong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.
  • In-depth knowledge and technical competence in a broad range of research administration and research compliance issues with the ability to evaluate and prioritize risks. Ensure an environment that is supportive to researchers yet promotes compliance with federal and state law regulations and University policies, rules and regulations.
  • Ability to articulate, promote and enhance strategies for building a strong research culture.
  • A leadership style that values service, integrity and collaboration, with an understanding of and appreciation for all forms and types of research, creative activities, and scholarship within and across disciplines.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the teaching mission of a public research university and the benefits to students of research experiences as part of their education and an understanding of WMU’s Carnegie classifications and positioning.
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain strong collaborative relationships and to work effectively with internal and external partners to promote research excellence.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills and the ability to devise and promote a clear vision, goals and strategic plan to lead the discovery mission of WMU.
  • Ability to promote the excellence of research/creative activities of faculty and staff.
  • Ability to allocate resources effectively and with integrity, in keeping with the vision for research at WMU.
  • Extensive knowledge of and experience with research funding, including demonstrated success as a Principal Investigator/Director in obtaining external funding and managing large grants, and experience working with federal agencies and corporate/private foundations and organizations.
  • Innovative leadership in research program development, including experience building teams for interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary efforts and experience facilitating access to international grants and collaborations.
  • Experience directing a major academic research enterprise.




Parker Executive Search is assisting WMU in the search for the vice president. The Search Committee invites letters of nomination, applications (letter of interest, full resume/CV, and contact information for at least five references), or expressions of interest to the search firm assisting the University. Review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made.  It is preferred, however, that all nominations and applications be submitted prior to September 1, 2017.  Please visit for detailed information and application procedures. For a complete position description, please visit the Current Opportunities page at Please send materials to the following:

Laurie Wilder, President

Porsha Williams, Vice President

770-804-1996 ext: 109 ||

Western Michigan University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.  Minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities and all other qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.

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