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Senior Director for Research Communications

Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Administrative Jobs
Institutional & Business Affairs, Communications & Marketing
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Senior Director for Research Communications

University Communications and Marketing

Carnegie Mellon University



Ferra Executive Search is pleased to partner with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to recruit their Senior Director for Research Communications.




Carnegie Mellon is a private, global research university that stands among the world's most renowned educational institutions with over $570MM in annual research expenditures. CMU rankings:


  • #1 School of Computer Science #1 Artificial Intelligence #1 Management Information Systems #1 Software Engineering



With cutting-edge brain science, path-breaking performances, innovative startups, driverless cars, big data, big ambitions, Nobel and Turing prizes, hands-on learning, and a whole lot of robots, CMU doesn't imagine the future, we create it. 




The research enterprise consists of:

  • University-wide research; Corporate Engagement; Industry Engagement; Tech Transfer to the start-up & entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Research Communications external audiences:

  • Federal / State government; Regional partners; Industry partners; VC firms; and other entrepreneurs.


The Senior Director for Research Communications is a key architect in building CMU’s research communication strategy, working collaboratively with the university to develop and implement an integrated communication initiatives framework with CMU’s colleges, centers, and institutes. This person must be able to look across the institution to tease out the different contributions from the colleges and bring them together to tell a powerful integrated story related to Carnegie Mellon’s research enterprise.


Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Communications, the senior director also will work in close coordination with the Vice President for Research. The senior director will serve as the university’s editor-in-chief for its research enterprise, with primary responsibility for capturing and articulating the research-related stories that bring alive this remarkable institution, coordinating the channels through which those stories are told and ensuring execution at the highest level. 


The Senior Director of Research Communications will manage research and economic development communications activities in alignment with CMU’s research priorities and in collaboration with Corporate Engagement and Government Affairs. This position is responsible for developing a strategy for communicating about Carnegie Mellon’s research and economic development activities in a comprehensive way and ensuring that communications activities are carried out consistent with that strategy to drive measurable results. This position requires a creative strategist with a passion for innovative storytelling and media relations and who can work closely with the analytics team to develop and utilize key performance indicators in strategic communications planning and implementation.


Scale of the research enterprise: $570MM in annual research expenditures with a diverse portfolio supporting a wide range of research initiatives including CMU’s Software Engineering Institute which is one of only two university affiliated federally funded research and development centers (FFRDC) and the National Robotics Engineering Center which focuses on scale-up and translation.


Carnegie Mellon University has more than 100 research centers and institutes, addressing a broad range of interests and industries. The links below showcase the centers where Carnegie Mellon students and faculty are working to solve real-world problems.



Start-up Ecosystem: Highly ranked in undergraduate to graduate entrepreneurial programs. Technology coming out of CMU has helped to create a vibrant tech start-up scene in Pittsburgh. CMU’s impact on the revitalization of Pittsburgh includes attracting major companies Google, Intel, Uber and GE to locate operations and create new jobs in Pittsburgh. Over the past 10 years, more than 400 startups linked to CMU have raised more than $7 billion in follow-on funding. Those investment numbers are especially high because of the sheer size of Pittsburgh’s growing autonomous vehicles cluster — including Uber, Aurora, Waymo and Motional — all of which are here in part because of their strong ties to CMU.




  • Bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications, business or some other relevant field; advanced degree preferred Minimum of 12-15 years as a leader in multi-channel content creation Management experience required; ability to lead and inspire a campus of content creators and creative personnel to achieve goals Familiarity with or experience working in higher education and/or research institutions Science, research and technology technical writing experience and the ability to make complex material easily digestible to a variety of audiences or for specialized, target audiences Experience in writing strategic communications & marketing plans. Demonstrated leadership in strategic communications around research with documented results Strategic thinker with proven ability to conceive of and execute storytelling content in line with institutional and brand objectives Experience handling multiple projects simultaneously and aligning with colleagues on priorities; adaptability and flexibility in direct responsibilities and collaborative work Research skills and business acumen with a fluency in topical news and culture Demonstrated ability to constructively engage with colleagues at all levels, pay close attention to details and convey information clearly and with respect and tact Willingness and ability to take ownership for quality and outcomes on complex university communications need Ability to work after hours and on weekends when appropriate

Fast Facts:


How To Apply: All individuals interested in this position are encouraged to apply. Your application must include all of the required documents below to be considered complete. 


Required application materials: 

  •  Attach a Cover Letter of no more than three (3) pages describing how you meet the professional and desired characteristics of the position. Attach a current Resume, including educational background, professional experience, achievements and professional activities.


Contact: Ferra Executive Search has been retained to manage the search.


If you would like to apply or have any inquiries/nominations, please send an email to:

Kevin Ferra, Founding Partner Ferra Executive Search


Please use ‘Senior Director for Research Communications’ as the subject line when you contact Kevin.


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