Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development

Virginia, United States
Salary Not specified
Sep 18, 2020
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

George Mason University (Mason)—Virginia’s largest R1 public research institution by enrollment—invites applications and nominations for the position of Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Development (VPR). Working closely with Mason’s President and Provost/Executive Vice President, the VPR will lead a university-wide effort to advance Mason’s regional, national, and international reputation as a leading research university. In partnership with academic deans, senior university leaders, academic colleagues, and external constituencies, the VPR will strategically focus on multidisciplinary research initiatives of great societal and economic consequence while expanding research and enhancing standards of scholarship across disciplines. The VPR will oversee three interdependent functions within the University: 

  1. The Research Services team, which provides active support for sponsored project development and execution, including proposal development, award management, and research accounting/reporting. This team also serves as the steward for research integrity and assurance, promoting and supporting the responsible conduct of research.
  2. The Research and Innovation Initiatives team, which leads initiatives to grow the research capacity via multidisciplinary collaboration: providing research development support for faculty teams preparing complex and high-impact projects; providing support for transdisciplinary centers, university research institutes, and research core facilities; and delivering faculty and student programs to promote entrepreneurial thinking in high-impact curricular activities.
  3. The Innovation and Economic Development team, which supports the development of strategic relationships with community and corporate partners to strengthen outcomes made possible by GMU research, scholarship, and creative work. This team also manages Mason intellectual property, supports the growth of new ventures emerging out of the research enterprise, and develops and supports shared facilities to support commercialization and community service delivery. In addition, the team is responsible for the experiential entrepreneurship programming for the University, with emphasis on graduate, post-doc, and research faculty applications.


The VPR will advance research infrastructure and will propose, evaluate, and implement new models and initiatives that will lead to significant expansion of the University’s research enterprise. The VPR will partner with deans and academic units to advance research and to enhance extramurally-supported research across the schools and colleges from all sources (corporate, foundation, federal, and philanthropic), with a clear focus on growing industrial partners. The VPR will also strengthen and develop research partnerships with institutions, agencies, industry and other organizations across the region, the nation, and the world. The VPR will facilitate the integration of research with undergraduate and graduate learning, as well as promote university research accomplishments externally by working with Communications and Marketing. The VPR will also drive economic development, technology transfer and innovation, in collaboration with the Associate Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development.


The successful candidate will demonstrate passion for research discovery, appreciate the importance of different types of research across many different disciplines, and demonstrate experience building inclusive and diverse partnerships both within and across organizations. The VPR must be innovative, entrepreneurial, visionary, and a collaborative leader. The successful candidate will have had prior administrative and leadership experience at a research organization, whether university, industry, or agency. The next VPR must have a demonstrated record of leading significant change. The most viable candidates will have exceptional skills in operations and will be willing to roll up their sleeves.


The next VPR will be a strong communicator and a creative problem solver who is willing to take risks. Unassailable personal and academic integrity is a must. The ideal candidate will demonstrate strong evidence of research scholarship, a proven track record in securing funding from external organizations, a history of graduate student supervision, successful mentorship of young investigators and/or success leading teams of researchers, and evidence of working with collaborators in other disciplines.


In 2021, U.S. News and World Report ranked Mason among the top 35 most innovative universities in the United States and 15th nationally for ethnic diversity (#1 in Virginia). The youngest university of the 130 R1 institutions in the United States, Mason is located in the heart of northern Virginia’s technology corridor, near Washington, D.C., with unmatched geographical access to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), and other federal agencies. The business community includes Fortune 500 companies in industries such as information technology, defense, financial services, and hospitality. As reflected in its 2014-2024 Strategic Plan, Mason strives to be the best university for the world—to produce the types of career-ready graduates, research, scholarship, and service-oriented action that will best serve society. 


Mason enrolls over 39,000 students from all 50 states and 130 countries. With over 1,800 faculty, Mason offers 200 undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and professional degree programs across 10 schools and colleges. The University will soon form a School of Computing, which will be among the largest such schools in the country.  Mason is a minority-majority university with tremendous diversity among its students and with comparable graduation rates across all demographic groups (contrary to nation-wide disparities in minority graduation rates). Also, 36% of Mason students are first-generation college students. In Fall 2020, Mason welcomed its largest and most diverse group of students in University history. 55 percent of the first-year students come from traditionally underrepresented groups.


Mason’s FY2020 research expenditures totaled $204.1 million, which represents an increase of nearly 107 percent since FY2014. The total value of current and anticipated awards exceeds $534 million. Mason’s research portfolio is diverse in terms of funding sources and areas of study. According to the 2018 HERD research funding results, Mason ranked 9th in Social Sciences and 30th in Computer and Information Sciences. Multidisciplinary research is an important priority at Mason, and the University has stood up support structures in three areas: digital innovation, biohealth, and sustainability. Since 2016, Mason has launched three university-wide institutes—Institute for Digital InnovAtion, Institute for Biohealth Innovation, and Institute for a Sustainable Earth—to provide targeted support in these areas. 


Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited. Interested candidates should submit confidentially, in electronic form (Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF files preferred), a curriculum vitae and any supporting materials that they deem relevant to:

Jett Pihakis, Ph.D.

Russell Reynolds Associates  

(202) 654-7870


For fullest consideration, materials should be received as soon as possible and preferably by October 19.


George Mason University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer. The University actively encourages applications and nominations of women, minorities and persons with disabilities and applications from candidates with diverse cultural backgrounds.

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