Director of the Office of Research Communications

Job description

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seeks a Director for its Office of Research Communications. The Director manages the communications office that serves the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research (OVCR) and works with OVCR senior leadership and the University to develop and execute communications strategy for UNC-Chapel Hill’s $1.1 billion research enterprise. Through the office, he or she communicates and promotes the impact and value of research at UNC-Chapel Hill externally and internally and increases public and private awareness and support for the University’s research mission.

Specific Duties of the Director:


  • Develops and implements strategic messaging and communications for UNC-Chapel Hill’s research enterprise.
  • Promotes the impact and value of Carolina’s research enterprise to internal and external target audiences through a variety of media (e.g., websites, print publications, video, infographics, social media, electronic presentations, advertising, booth displays, signage, special events, etc.).
  • Develops and executes communications strategy for the strategic priorities of the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR).
  • Leads ORC staff in the identification of stories and creation of content that engage target audiences and increase awareness of the value and impact of Carolina’s research accomplishments and highlight VCR and University strategic research priorities.
  • Boosts the visibility and effectiveness of the UNC Research web presence as a communications platform, increasing on-line traffic, readership and social media engagement by target audiences.
  • Coordinates communications activities and provides high-level direction to the 14 research centers and 10 offices that report to the VCR, providing support and assistance to their communications efforts and promoting alignment with VCR and University research priorities.
  • Collaborates with communications personnel in the Chancellor’s office and in individual University schools, departments centers and institutes outside of the OVCR to align messages relating to the University’s larger research enterprise.
  • Promotes and supports efforts that help faculty and staff communicate the impact and value of their research.


  • Supervises and manages ORC personnel, workload, budget and performance.
  • Curates, manages, critiques and edits content and communications produced by ORC staff.
  • Provides executive communications support to the VCR and the OVCR.
  • Regularly evaluates the effectiveness of UNC research communications efforts and recommends adjustments and modifications as needed.
  • Tracks and reports ORC performance consistent with goals and metrics established for the Office.
  • Oversees and evaluates the work of the OVCR webmaster, recommending approaches and solutions for web design, architecture and constituent relations issues involving the websites and web pages of the various OVCR divisions.
  • Identifies and arranges opportunities for professional development and training of ORC staff to ensure the proper mix of skills within the Office to meet evolving communications needs.

Outreach and Collaboration



The director’s position may at times involve hands-on responsibility for writing and editing, infographics and website development, and design when needed. 

Education:  The position requires a bachelor’s degree. An advanced degree is preferred, although additional years of related experience in communications, journalism, public relations or a related field, particularly in management and leadership roles, may be considered in lieu of an advanced degree. Training or experience in science and research will be advantageous and viewed favorably.

Qualifications and Experience:  This position requires a minimum of eight years of experience in communications, writing, media relations, publications and multi-media on-line content creation. It requires three years of experience successfully managing and overseeing a communications office for a large, complex organization and working collaboratively within a matrixed communications environment.  It requires a dynamic, energetic leader experienced in communicating strategic messages through diverse media and capable of inspiring a creative team of writers, story-tellers, producers and designers.

The Director should be experienced in story-telling as a form of content marketing, with an intuitive grasp of the interests of a target audience and a talent for reaching and engaging them with relevant content. He or she must be a strong writer and editor, capable of quickly grasping complex scientific concepts and communicating their substance and value visually and in writing in ways that make them easily understood by a general audience. He or she must be committed to the production of high-quality content with an attention to detail and be able to inspire the production of such work in others.

The Director must have experience simultaneously managing multiple short-term projects while maintaining focus on long-term projects and delivering on strategic objectives. He or she must be skilled at building and managing external relationships and collaborating in a decentralized, diverse university environment with a team approach that combines collegiality and creativity to motivate others. 

The Director must have experience communicating strategic messages through both traditional and new media and be capable of thoughtfully and effectively utilizing current digital, web-based and social media communication strategies. He or she should understand the interests, needs and focus of external content publishers and reporters in various media, with an understanding of the dynamics of the current media environment.

Proficiency in the use of design software such as Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office 365 is sought for this position. Familiarity with website administration programs such as WordPress is also regard favorably.  Candidates having skills in these areas should specifically note them in their resume or cover letter.

Background on UNC and the Office of Research Communications:  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was established as the nation’s first public university in 1789. Today, it is a comprehensive state research university, offering undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees to over 29,000 students through 14 schools and colleges. The conduct of research is a major part of its mission. In FY17, UNC’s overall research expenditures exceeded $1 billion, and the University ranks 5th in the US for federal research funding and 11th for total research funding from all sources. As a public university, it also receives substantial funding from the State of North Carolina. In FY17, its state appropriations totaled $500 million. The University’s leadership is committed to ensuring that UNC-Chapel Hill and its research enterprise serve and benefit the people of North Carolina and the world at large. Communication of the impact and value of research to the state and nation is a priority. 

The Office of Research Communications consists of four full-time employees and may utilize the services of student writers and free-lance contributors. It is housed in the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research (OVCR), and the Director reports to the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research.  Additional information about UNC-Chapel Hill can be found at

Interested candidates must complete an EPA Non-Faculty online application and should submit a current resume, a letter of interest, and the names of four references, online at

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or status as a protected veteran.

Consideration of candidates will begin immediately and will continue until the position has been filled. 




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Job No:
Posted: 12/21/2018
Application Due: 1/31/2019
Work Type: