Dean of Global School

Job description

Job location: Worcester

Employment Type: Full-time
Posted data: 2020-12-22
Req: R0001077

Dean of Global School




Provost Office


Worcester Polytechnic Institute - WPI



Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) seeks a collaborative intellectual academic leader to serve as the inaugural Dean of its new Global School.


The WPI Plan, formulated at the time of the University's centennial 50 years ago, established an innovative, project-based undergraduate curriculum that emphasizes leadership development, creative problem-solving, interdisciplinary collaboration, global competencies, and service to society. WPI's approach is a model for STEM education worldwide. Forbes (2018) recognized WPI in 2018 as one of the top 25 STEM colleges, and Money Magazine (2019) named WPI one of its most transformative colleges.

Building upon 50 years of success of The WPI Plan, the Global School is being established to further distinguish WPI’s unique approach to education and research, one that positions STEM professionals to address socio-technical challenges in communities worldwide. The inaugural Dean of the Global School will join WPI at this unique moment in our global history. Although the pandemic has been challenging, the University is continues to deliver on its­ vision and mission, including meeting our enrollment numbers, student and alumni engagement are strong, and WPI's current global commitments are flourishing. Over fifty project centers in thirty-one countries around the world host interdisciplinary, capstone, and humanities and arts projects. WPI provides financial support so that every undergraduate student can undertake a project in a community off campus; 85 percent of the student body completes a project at one of these global project centers. In addition, international alumni chapters (Athens, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, and Panama) are located strategically around the world to harness the significant influence of WPI alumni in these regions to support global project centers and foster academic partnerships.

Reporting to the Provost and working with the President, other Deans, faculty, students, and off-campus partners around the globe, the Dean will expand and deepen WPI's global reach, expertise, and offerings. The Dean will grasp and appreciate the full range of global learning activities and programs at WPI and knit them together into an integrated and powerful whole. Graduate programs, research activities, on- and off-campus partnerships, and expanded initiatives in areas such as energy, food security, health, poverty, sustainability, and water­—all these are potential areas of attention for the inaugural Dean. The successful candidate will possess a terminal degree and professional experience commensurate with an appointment at the rank of full professor, and have a record of academic scholarship, global engagement, partnership, and institutional capacity-building.

A search committee has been formed to assist in this recruitment. Confidential inquiries and nominations should be directed to All applications should consist of a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, and an optional list of three to five professional references with contact information. No references will be contacted without the explicit permission of the candidate.


WPI is one of the nation's oldest polytechnic institutes; it is also one of the most nimble, constantly adapting and anticipating the needs of the students and societies it aims to serve. WPI was awarded the prestigious Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering Education by the National Academy of Engineering in 2016. The campus is set on a scenic hilltop in Worcester, 40 miles west of Boston and about an hour's drive from Providence, Rhode Island and Hartford, Connecticut.

WPI focuses on developing habits of mind, analytical skills, technological expertise, and the sense of social responsibility necessary to produce technological leaders inspired and equipped to tackle the world's most pressing issues by harmonizing STEM approaches within a social and human context. To accomplish this goal, the University emphasizes interdisciplinarity, problem-solving, and close work between faculty and students. WPI’s approach places the University at the forefront of trends in undergraduate higher education, and the institution is seen as an incubator for innovation. The intimate scale, informality, and cooperative culture promote collaborations across the university; in the words of a former Board of Trustees chair and alumnus, WPI is "not a small university, but a personal university." This is a strikingly collegial, caring, and nurturing environment.

WPI is home to approximately 500 full- and part-time faculty, 4,500 full-time undergraduate students and 2,000 graduate students. The undergraduate student body has become increasingly diverse over the years; women now account for 40 percent of the population. International students hail from more than 65 countries.

Classified as a Carnegie Doctoral University: Higher Research Activity (R2) institution, WPI’s research enterprise has grown substantially in size and sophistication over the past decade, through significant investments in new facilities and faculty. Research awards totaled $56.3M in FY20.

Since 2014, Laurie Leshin has served as WPI's 16th president. Dr. Leshin is dedicated to increasing the impact of WPI's education and research in communities worldwide. She has put particular emphasis on growth in WPI’s global programs, research, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Before joining WPI she served as the Dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a senior executive at NASA, and the Dee and John Whiteman Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences and Director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University. Her BS is from Arizona State, and her MS and PhD degrees are from the California Institute of Technology.

Winston (Wole) Soboyejo joined WPI in 2016 as Dean of the Engineering School and was named Provost in 2018. Dr. Soboyejo brings to WPI an exceptional record of achievement in engineering research and academic leadership, as well as impressive accomplishments in international development and a noteworthy track record in building global research and educational partnerships. Before coming to WPI, Dr. Soboyejo held research positions at the McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratories in St. Louis and the Edison Welding Institute in Columbus, Ohio, as well as faculty positions at The Ohio State University, MIT, and Princeton. He holds a BS from King's College London and a PhD from Cambridge University.

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The foundation of WPI's educational model is the WPI Plan­­—a commitment to intensive learning, active intellectual engagement, collaboration, and open-ended project work. The WPI academic year is divided into seven-week terms (four in fall and spring combined, and two during an optional summer term). During each term, a student typically takes three 3-credit-hour course-equivalents. Emphasis is placed on student-generated exploration, solutions to real-life problems, and an expanded world view. In addition to two required projects, each worth nine credit hours, students are frequently working on projects within their courses. Most projects are undertaken in teams; all of them have a strong orientation to the real world. WPI students work on scientific, technological, and societal problems on behalf of businesses, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and global communities.

When the WPI Plan was developed­—and the academic year calendar was reorganized into seven-week terms—it meant that students could work together on projects anywhere in the world. WPI first established a project center in Washington, D.C., 50 years ago, then expanded in subsequent years within the United States and to Europe, Asia, and Central America. Since then, student interest has continued to grow: in a regular non-COVID-19 year, our students work in 34 countries on every continent except Antarctica.

Current university-wide global learning opportunities are provided through:

  • The Global Projects Program (GPP), which administers two vital components of WPI’s project-based learning model: WPI’s study and work-away program, and interactive qualifying projects that provide a distinctive, interdisciplinary project experience.

  • The Great Problems Seminar (GPS), a two-term course that immerses first-year students in university-level research and serves as an introduction to the project-based curriculum of WPI. GPS faculty, along with other university faculty, team teach on some of the world’s greatest global problems, including climate change, water security, and global health.

  • The Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP), a combined curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular program for students. Typically, students enter the program in their freshman or sophomore year, and they remain active in the program through graduation. In 2017, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) designated WPI as a Grand Challenges Scholars School, in recognition of the university’s project-based curriculum.

  • Global Lab in the Foisie Innovation Studio, a collaboratory space for students, faculty, staff, visiting scholars, postdocs, artists-in-residence, and leaders from non-governmental organizations. Global Lab provides a setting for creative collaboration, idea generation, and implementation, with state-of-the-art media studios. A Global Fellows/Faculty-in-Residence program allows WPI faculty to focus on research or creative projects/programs.

  • Undergraduate programs in the areas of International and Global Studies; Economic Sciences; Science, Technology, and Policy; Science and Engineering for Development; and Environment and Sustainability Studies. In addition, there are areas of expertise in the Humanities and Arts that foster intercultural competency and collaboration, such as Modern Languages and Global and Regional History.

  • Area studies programs in Latin American Studies and the China Hub, as well as emerging activities in Africa, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Oceania.


The Global School presents a unique opportunity to leverage WPI’s many decades of experience in global and project-based STEM education to position the institution to make an even greater impact on pressing global challenges. Under the leadership of the Dean, the school will expand research and teaching opportunities, and make good on WPI's strategic plan's promise to offer meaningful global learning opportunities to all WPI students. Within the school will be the first-year Great Problems Seminar, the Global Projects Program, and graduate programs in related areas.

In the coming years, it is expected that the Global School will enhance existing undergraduate programs and develop new, integrated interdisciplinary programs, including demand-driven Masters and PhD programs that build on existing undergraduate programs; spur global partnerships that support these programs and present new opportunities for institutional collaboration; create professional programs that prepare globally informed and socially conscious leaders; and nurture world class research that offers solutions to global problems.

When mature, it may be expected that the Global School will encompass 30-40 tenured and non-tenure-track faculty and approximately 100 affiliated faculty based in other units. Plans are now under way to hire additional faculty, as well as to pursue joint appointments with other schools at WPI.

WPI’s commitment to global education and global engagement is comprehensive, and given the omnipresence of globally-oriented activities at WPI, the Global School will not possess exclusive oversight of "everything global." It will, however, serve as a strong force for weaving together WPI's global ambitions. The Dean of the Global School will be a visible advocate, academic leader, and collaborative champion of those efforts.


The Dean of the Global School will oversee and build robust, successful interdisciplinary globally focused programs at WPI. In this work the Dean will cultivate and welcome ideas and activities from across the campus, and will work assiduously to engage external communities (regionally, nationally, and globally, from the nonprofit world, including government, as well as from industry) and international alumni in WPI's initiatives. As would be expected at an inherently collaborative institution like WPI, deans in general do not preside over autonomous entities walled off from other academic units. But this principle is particularly relevant to the Global School, whose inaugural dean must be wired to reach out, partner, and co-create.

The Dean will sit on WPI’s Management Council, the President’s senior team. The Dean also will be a member of the Academic Affairs Senior Leadership Team.


The inaugural Dean of the Global School will be empowered to:

Build the Global School, organically and intentionally.

The inaugural Dean will have the opportunity to build on WPI’s rich and cross-cutting set of global learning activities and programs. The Dean will also build new components of the School in collaboration with WPI’s committed faculty. The result will be a suite of strategic, harmonized activities that dramatically increase WPI's impact in the world.

Building the school requires building community: as more faculty join the Global School, and as faculty in other schools become affiliated, the Dean will nurture a fertile intellectual climate for collaboration and cross-pollination. Working collaboratively will be critical; the Dean must evince a commitment to seeking and integrating feedback, as a well as an appetite for iterative thinking and implementation.

Develop exciting, compelling academic programs.

The establishment of the Global School should enable the creation of new graduate programs as well as relevant offerings for professionals; WPI intends for the Global School to reach students of all backgrounds. The Global School will contribute to WPI's record of excellent student outcomes, social aptitudes, and a commitment to service, regardless of the program or major in which a student is enrolled, by enlarging the array of global learning choices available to students and strengthening their intercultural competencies.

Increase visibility and support, internally and externally.

The Dean will be a tireless champion and advocate for the Global School. Internally, the Dean will position the school as a valuable partner to the schools and faculty of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Engineering. Externally, the Dean will develop consequential alliances with influential alumni, government and nongovernmental entities, other higher education institutions, industry partners, supporters and potential funders of WPI. The University is in the leadership phase of a $500 million fundraising campaign. The Global School is a strategic priority of the fundraising plan, and the Dean will play a strong, critical, and externally-facing role with domestic and international partners.

Recruit, retain and develop an outstanding and diverse faculty body for the Global School.

The Dean of the Global School will bring faculty together, advocate for their work, nurture their interests, and facilitate their initiatives. The Dean will also build a faculty body that is diverse in all dimensions; has commitment to WPI's model of education; evinces an orientation to working collaboratively; evinces an innovative and student-centered mindset; and demonstrates effectiveness in strengthening a culture that is inclusive and transparent.


WPI seeks an inspiring and impressive leader whose values mesh with those of an ambitious, generous, and diverse intellectual community. The successful candidate will possess many of the following professional experiences, academic qualifications, and characteristics:

Professional background: Exemplary academic scholarship, and professional achievement, including an earned terminal degree and experience that would support an appointment to the rank of full professor. Candidates with expertise in harmonizing STEM and society are particularly encouraged to apply.

Strategic vision: Demonstrated expertise and experience communicating the importance of a social global perspective and global programs with STEM partners. The skills needed to translate this knowledge and commitment into a strategic vision that with galvanizing and transformative impact. Ability to communicate this vision clearly and purposefully; openness and enthusiasm to partner with others, internally and externally; orientation to think regionally, nationally, and globally.

Experience in academic affairs: Demonstrated success in building and enhancing academic programs in all stages of development. A record of engaging broadly across unit and disciplinary boundaries, and a deep commitment to faculty and shared governance. A track record of effective strengthening of diversity and inclusion in academic programs, and among faculty and students.

Experience in external engagement: A record of effective extra-institutional activity and institutional building, reflecting strong relationships with partners, including in industry, government and non-governmental organizations. Demonstrated experience in, and aptitude and enthusiasm for fundraising from individual and industry donors; proven ability to attract support from government and non-government sources.

Administrative leadership skills: Stellar leadership qualities, strong financial acumen, a keen understanding of academic resource management, an orientation to teamwork and inclusivity, and ability to work as part of a complex, and high-performing system. Professional and intellectual generosity of spirit; the ability to foster trust and inspire enthusiasm.

Management skills: Superb communication, listening, and organizational skills. Ability to work simultaneously at the strategic and operational levels. The will to work inclusively, married with the courage to make and manage hard decisions. Ability to thrive in a highly collaborative, diverse, and interdisciplinary environment.

Personal qualities: Integrity, curiosity, collaborative, drive, patience, and persistence. Demonstrated determination to promote and enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion. A global and cosmopolitan view. Flexibility and openness; charisma and public presence; humility, modesty, and a sense of humor.

WPI is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate against applicants due to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran status, or disability. We are looking for individuals who value creativity, diversity, inclusion, and collaboration.


United States of America (Exempt)

WPI is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran status, or disability. We are seeking individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences who will contribute to a culture of creativity and collaboration, inclusion, problem solving and change making.




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Job No:
Posted: 12/23/2020
Application Due: 3/23/2021
Work Type: Full Time