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Associate Director - Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) - Medical School

Medical School
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Posted Date
Jul 25, 2023

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Position Type
Administrative, Academic Affairs, Academic Administration
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

The Associate Director position within the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) is a full-time position that provides leadership and strategic direction for supporting graduate students and postdoctoral fellows within the Medical School at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The chief objectives of the GPS Office are to provide support, resources and services to increase the number and quality of trainees, enhance the research education experience and foster career development. 


The Associate Director position serves to design, manage, supervise and employ best practices for providing (a) outreach and recruitment, (b) retention, (c) research education and (d) career development services for graduate students and postdocs within the Medical School. 

The GPS office seeks an effective communicator, collaborator and connector with strong interest in supporting graduate students and postdoctoral trainees in the biomedical sciences. This role will have an executive presence with an ability to build relationships across a broad group of stakeholders, as well as define and drive towards key measurable objectives of enhancing recruitment, retention, research education and career development of trainees within the Medical School. Ideal individuals are able to understand the unique and diverse needs of learners, and will serve to identify new opportunities and employ innovative practices to advance trainee research and career development outcomes. Responsibilities include creation and implementation of programs, initiatives and activities to enhance the recruitment, retention and research education of trainees, with a particular focus on innovative elements to enhance diversity and engage in best practices to support career development. 

The position reports to the Associate Dean of Graduate Education and supervises program managers and administrator team members within the office to provide services and resources to graduate students and postdocs within the Medical School. Collectively, this Associate Director position works with the Research Office of the Dean, Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, directors of graduate studies, training program directors, council of graduate students and the council of postdoctoral associates, among other entities within the Medical School and other external partners to the University. The culmination of efforts results in implementation of approaches to enhance measurable outcomes in graduate student and postdoc trainee recruitment, retention, research education and career development. 

Essential Functions/Responsibilities: 

  • 40% Effort: Design, develop and execute outreach and recruitment strategies to increase the number and quality of students to graduate programs and postdocs to research laboratories ○ Create methods to assess effectiveness of the complex constellation of activities affecting recruiting goals and manage the modification of practices to best meet those goals 
    • Identify, direct and employ best practices to increase the number, quality and diversity of students and postdoctoral trainees entering graduate programs and research positions ○ Direct program manager staff members within the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to designing and executing strategic regional, national and international recruitment efforts through in-person, conference/fairs and social media campaigns 
    • Supervise and direct communication plans with office staff members to drive trainees awareness of and interaction with our programs and research areas resulting in increased engagement and matriculation of learners 
    • Oversee and engage in the establishment of pipeline/pathway partnerships with institutions as a source of top-tier trainees for feeding into the graduate programs and research laboratories 
    • Employ expert knowledge of Univ of Minnesota Medical School research and training opportunities to best represent the University to prospective students and their faculty mentors. ○ Evaluate productivity/yield of recruiting activities and pipeline relationships and adjust plans as necessary to maximize outcomes in consultation with Dean’s Office and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies 
    • Oversee and direct the GPS office online content creation, social media campaigns, and other visible and communication methods to enhance recruitment of prospective graduate students and postdoc trainees. This includes creation of recruiting materials: brochures, exhibit displays, promotional materials and web content to present the breadth of research and educational opportunities available to prospective trainees 
  • 25% Effort: Oversee programmatic activities to enhance retention and research education efforts for graduate students and postdoctoral trainees 
    • Determine barriers to graduate student and postdoctoral fellows’ retention by assessing graduate program and current research environment culture/climate 
    • Identify, design and employ best practices to increase retention in conjunction with alleviating the disparity in graduation rates among underrepresented groups in biomedical sciences ○ Supervise and direct program managers to bolster graduate student retention efforts by (a) continual assessment (and surveying) of culture and climate environments, (b) creation and implementation of focus groups to develop initiatives to address key stakeholder needs, (c) proposing policy and school-wide best practice initiatives and (d) creation of programs and resources to increase graduation rates and postdoc transition into academic research careers. ○ Consult with graduate faculty, students, and program committees on diversity, equity and inclusion-related issues/concerns and create reports for the Dean's Office, Associate Deans and other stakeholders. 
    • Play a critical role in building a strong, productive relationship with the newly formed graduate student union and help design and implement necessary changes to Institute, Center and Departmental systems, policies, and practices. 
    • Conduct seminars, workshops and focus group studies in conjunction with the Medical School’s Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion on relevant issues for trainees, programs and research laboratories with faculty mentors, Medical School staff members and other key stakeholders to increase retention efforts. 
    • Develop initiatives and programmatic activities to enhance research education efforts to increase competency and skills for future biomedical scientists. 
    • Oversee creation and employment of key workshops to support scientific writing, grantsmanship, research fundamentals and other areas of research education to bolster the breadth of skills in trainees 
  • 25% Effort: Develop and manage a suite of tools to support career development efforts for medical school graduate and postdoctoral trainees 
    • Design and employ career training workshops, individual development planning, and career planning seminars geared towards students for varying program activities 
    • Supervise and direct the GPS office to support career exploration and provide strategic avenues to identify trainee career paths 
    • Work collectively with GPS staff members and stakeholders for creation of content to support career development information applicable to academic and non-academic careers 
    • Direct, oversee and implement internship opportunity efforts with external business partners to for graduate students and postdocs 
    • Create programming and services specific to addressing the challenges facing international PhD and postdoctoral fellows in both attaining extramural awards and engaging in job searches ○ Creating, organizing, and implementing innovative and engaging career development courses, workshops, and seminars both in-person and online for topics relevant to academic or non-academic careers in biomedical research enterprise 
    • Establish and oversee the graduate student and postdoc peer mentorship program to support and facilitate peer-to-peer- mentoring 
  • 10% Effort: Provide direction in evaluative and assessment metrics of key student and postdoc needs assessments, performance outcomes and alumni tracking 
    • Oversee tracking and management of graduate programs and postdoctoral trainee outcomes (includes admissions, matriculation, job placements, and enrollment data where applicable) ○ Establish performance tracking metrics and other assessments to evaluate measurable objectives with respect to enhancing recruitment and retention 
    • Manage the data acquisition and analytics for reporting T32/F31/F30/F32 grant outcomes and document diversity recruiting plans for new or renewing applications in conjunction with the Pre-Award Office within the Medical School 
    • Direct and support staff members in maintaining communications with alumni to track their career selections and to recruit them to serve as near peer mentors 
    • Direct staff members to appropriately engage in data acquisition and analytics to provide reports to key stakeholders to support funding, policy or curriculum enhancement 


  • M.S. degree in the sciences or higher education required. 
  •  A minimum of 5 years of relevant work experience, to include a combination of the following: ○ Experience in a higher education environment involving students, employers and/or alumni. ○ Experience in advising or mentoring students. 
    • Knowledge/understanding of science research on a broad level 
    • Experience collecting survey and outcome data and gaining stakeholder input 

Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Ph.D. or Ed.D. degree in the sciences or higher education required. 
  • Writing experience, including publishing in scientific journals, books and/or writing grants
  • Prior training in career advising/coaching desired 

Skills and Knowledge: 

  • Demonstrated capacity to work effectively with persons from diverse backgrounds
  • Commitment to promoting an inclusive culture 
  • Experience in career development programming and/or career coaching 

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