Assistant Director, RISD Center for Complexity

Job Summary

The Center for Complexity (CfC) at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) serves as the space where intense curiosity converges with the desire to make the world a better place. The CfC is a platform for transdisciplinary collaboration and innovation, informed by global events and creative practices, founded to benefit scholars, practitioners, a diverse range of partners, and the RISD community.

The CfC seeks exemplary candidates for a two-year term position as the Assistant Director of the Center for Complexity. This role provides input to and implements strategies for growing new programs and improving existing activities at the Center for Complexity. As this is an inaugural position, the ideal candidate is confident in creating and implementing practices and procedures that will enable CfC and Strategic Design Program (SDP) teams to achieve success with a variety of external partners working in diverse professional fields. The Assistant Director designs partner engagement programs and effective administrative systems; conducts research into sister organizations, their operational models and best practices; establishes program-specific approaches to planning, coordination, monitoring, and evaluation; gathers and distills information to support CfC communications across the spectrum of print and digital media. As well, this position monitors the Center’s budget and diplomatically liaises with departments and administrative offices at RISD. As an engaged community member, the Assistant Director identifies opportunities to collaborate and share knowledge amongst CfC and SDP teams to advance shared research initiatives and joint programming.

We seek a culturally competent candidate who will thrive in a campus environment that is committed to advancing the principles of social equity and inclusion, environmental and climate justice, and equal access to resources and opportunities.

Essential Functions

Administrative and Program Development for the CfC:

  • Lead the development and delivery of administrative practices and procedures that enable CfC programs to achieve objectives in near and long terms. Set process and structure for the CfC and build “Center” models which move the CfC from a start-up mode to sustainable and scalable operations.

  • Proactively research, explore, design and/or propose new programs.

  • Serve as the day-to-day operational manager for existing programs and partners. Stay in regular communication with partners to ensure positive experiences and effective operations.

  • Manage and contribute to the design, development, implementation and assessment of new and innovative programs across the CfC’s core research areas (Systems of Care, Global Security and Design and Public Policy) and if approved, implement within existing and evolving infrastructures.

  • Actively engage stakeholders across RISD (including faculty, staff and students) to integrate CfC programs into relevant academic and administrative activities.

  • Serve as primary point of contact with RISD admin offices and external stakeholders and partners to gather, contextualize and analyze information and key metrics on research activities.

  • Produce and translate key information, project status and milestone reports, post-award data, executive summaries and various other materials.

  • Develop, recommend and, as approved, implement programs, administrative architectures, policy documents, and tools which support and advance interest in and engagement with Infosys.

  • Ensure policies, processes, and tools are clearly articulated, readily available, consistently evaluated and compliant with RISD norms and procedures.

  • Conduct self-directed research in formal and informal settings to help shape and advance CfC programs. Identify resources to support new and ongoing work.

  • Act as a resource within the CfC and SDP on Workday processes, RISD policies, and RISD’s evolving SEI programs.

  • Under the direction of the Executive Director, participate in CfC project teams as needed to design, development and/or implement new approaches to achieve successful project outcomes.

  • Provide direction and guidance to administrative support staff specifically as related to expenses, reimbursements, procurement, and billing.

Operational and administrative support to the Strategic Design Program:

  • Support the Studio Leads and Session Directors in the smooth execution of the SDP programs, by assisting with planning, material needs, and navigation of RISD policies and procedures.

  • Provide input to the design, development and implementation of new programs as required.

  • Provide direction and guidance to administrative support staff regarding where required including expenses, reimbursements, procurement and billing.

Financial and Grant Support:

  • Locate and identify sources of outside funding within the parameters of the CfC’s funding needs and project portfolio. Develop budget proposals, post-award structures and monitor awards received.

  • Serve as a resource to administrative support staff to complete financial processes and related documentation associated with any grants. Assist in obtaining institutional sign-off on proposals and grant-related contracts.

  • Liaise with RISD Research Office to ensure full compliance with internal and grant fiscal application requirements, sponsor terms, RISD policies/procedures, and federal regulations.

  • Maintain high-level knowledge of RISD internal processing methods and tools to process reimbursements, honoraria, and ad-hoc payments in accordance with standard processes. Initiate and process POs, supplier invoices, reimbursement requests and similar transactions.

Community Building/Facilitation:

  • Build positive relations and coalitions which support the mission and profile of CfC and the SDP.

  • Participate in campus activities and forums.

  • Participate and lead (where appropriate) events that advance CfC programs.

Required Knowledge/Skills/Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent combination of education and relevant professional experience; Master’s degree preferred.

  • Minimum four years previous experience coordinating and/or managing programs and/or program development/implementation.

  • Prior experience with grant-funded research and reporting.

  • Proven experience working with diverse stakeholder groups to advance projects and initiatives

  • Demonstrated ability to take initiative and contribute to ideas and recommendations

  • Proven leadership experience developing short- and long-term plans which align with and support an overarching strategy.

  • Demonstrated ability and desire to work effectively with diverse communities and support the mission of Social Equity and Inclusion.

  • Experience with inclusionary practices including inclusionary research practices preferred.

  • Experience with strategic design and/or systems practices preferred.

  • Ability to identify and nurture relationships which result in high impact outcomes and to work with individuals at all levels of an organization/institution. Ability to interact professionally and efficiently within administrative systems across an organization.

  • Ability to take initiative, anticipate issues or delays.

  • Ability to influence and motivate others to meet deadlines and objectives.

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, organizational skills, and interpersonal skills required.

  • Commitment to maintaining an inspirational professional and learning environment preferred.





Work Schedule:

2-Year Term Appointment

Monday - Friday

35 hours per week

Employment Status:

Full-time, Exempt

Documents Needed to Apply:


Cover Letter

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please upload all required documents.

The successful candidate will be required to meet our pre-employment background screening requirements.

For certain positions, RISD is currently supporting remote work arrangements due to the pandemic. When work resumes in person, employees are expected to perform work on campus.

RISD recognizes diversity and inclusivity as fundamental to its learning community and integral to an art and design education. We welcome candidates whose experience has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and excellence. RISD is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetics, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.

For internal use only - Job Family:

Academic Affairs

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