Executive Director Research Financial Operations

Illinois, United States
Salary Not specified
Oct 30, 2020
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
Executive Director of Research Financial Operations

Job ID:  39607
Location:  Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University is one of the nation’s premier research universities, combining innovative teaching and pioneering research in a highly collaborative, multidisciplinary, and diverse environment.  The Executive Director of Research Financial Operations leads Northwestern's research financial operations, cost studies, and effort reporting compliance activities. The position reports to the Senior Associate Vice President for Finance and Treasurer who in turn reports to the Senior Vice President. There is a strong joint reporting relationship to the University Controller for oversight of financial transactions, chart of account maintenance, cash management, reporting and audit support. The Executive Director maintains a close partnership with University research functions and participates in relevant policy-making, strategic planning and consultative forums with the Office of the Vice President for Research. 

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Oversees and provides leadership to:
    • Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs (ASRSP), a 35 FTE unit with offices on both the Chicago and Evanston campuses, responsible for all post-award administration activities related to the University's grants and contracts.  This includes monitoring financial activities during the life of the award, transaction review, sponsor receivable and cash management, financial reporting, subcontract administration and audit management. 
    • Cost Studies and Effort Reporting, a 4 FTE unit
      • Cost Studies is responsible for the development and maintenance of systems, processes and policies related to all contractual and negotiated reimbursement rates for the University, including the University's Facilities & Administration (F&A) rate with the Federal Government and rates for internal charges (recharge rates) within the University. 
      • Effort Reporting is responsible for assisting research units with timely and compliant reporting of effort on sponsored projects per Federal Government regulations. 
  • Provides oversight for the development of policies, procedures and training for the financial administration of sponsored programs.  Structures the Research Financial Operations organization, establishes goals and monitors performance objectives for optimal service delivery and efficient operations.  Leads identification and development of high-performing staff. Develops and monitors budgets for the Research Financial Operations area. 
  • Maintains a close partnership with University research functions and participates in relevant policy-making, strategic planning and consultative forums with the Office of the Vice President for Research.  ASRSP post-award offices works closely with sponsored project pre-award services under the Office of the VP for Research, and the functions share common document repositories and information data bases and collaborate on the development and delivery of training curriculum addressing research-related roles and responsibilities across the University. 
  • Identifies, envisions and champions process improvements including system-based opportunities to best support the University’s research endeavor.  Works collaboratively with the Information Technology group on fully utilizing system functionality and designing new functionality. 
  • Works collaboratively with top leadership in schools and departments on compliance case management.  Represents the University during audits performed by granting agencies.  Is an expert resource concerning Federal and other funder sponsored project regulations and guidelines and Northwestern research policies and procedures. 
  • Participates in Financial Operations (parent department) activities under the direction of the Senior Associate Vice President for Finance and Treasurer. Participates in Financial Operations strategic planning and goal setting and tracks/reports on progress of action items.   
  • Performs other duties as assigned.


Minimum Qualifications:

  • Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree in Accounting, Business Administration, Finance or related field; OR appropriate combination of education and experience.
  • Established record of progressively responsible leadership over at least 10 years in research compliance and financial administration in a research university, academic medical center or other organization subject to an externally regulated environment
  • Experience leading an organization and providing effective management to a diverse staff, ensuring that they are developing professionally and sustaining a high level of performance
  • Demonstrated performance in establishing and maintaining productive and collaborative relationships with a full range of internal and external constituencies


Minimum Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities.)

  • Extensive knowledge of and experience with the financial administration of sponsored projects
  • In-depth knowledge of Federal regulations concerning sponsored projects, proven ability to work at a policy development level with executive leadership and to translate policy into procedures, training and system requirements
  • Excellent oral and written communication, attention to detail and strong presentation skills
  • Models a clear commitment to service and a consultative leadership style
  • Demonstrates sound judgment and is tactful and diplomatic
  • Able to carry out management duties that require following University operational business procedures


Preferred Qualifications:

  • MBA degree

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.


For consideration, external candidates should be directed to apply via Northwestern’s career site at careers.northwestern.edu