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Senior Associate Vice President & Chief Research Operations Officer - Office of the Vice President

Job Details

The Sr. Associate VP & Chief Research Operations Officer (CROO) will oversee the development, coordination, and implementation of strategies, processes, systems, and training to support the full life cycle of sponsored program awards, while balancing risk, transparency, and compliance demands. They will advance the university’s research integrity and compliance policies and programs to meet best practices and standards of excellence for accreditation. They will contribute to a positive research environment that promotes safety, integrity, and ethical behavior, and follows the changing regulations of federal funding agencies.

The Sr. Associate VP & CROO will evaluate and advise leadership on new and innovative operating and financial models for potential strategic research investments, and they will support the implementation and management of successful initiatives. They will represent the research and innovation enterprise to advance major university projects such as the future of financial planning, research data analytics and sharing hub, and significant enhancements to electronic research administration, controlled research computing, and data systems.

The Sr. Associate VP & CROO will have a critical role in ensuring that various groups and stakeholders are aligned and working in concert to achieve shared goals and objectives, and in communicating with campus stakeholders and external partners. This requires an individual that possesses a deep understanding of today’s complex academic research and innovation environment, exceptional organizational, problem solving and people skills, and great flexibility and patience.

The Sr. Associate VP and CROO reports directly to the Vice President for Research (VPR) and will manage and supervise teams responsible for sponsored programs, research integrity and compliance, research systems, operations, and finance. They will be a member of the Office’s senior leadership team responsible for promoting transparent communication across diverse centers, departments and colleges.

This position will lead across Research Administration and Enterprise-wide Operations supporting compliance and research integrity, diverse programs, regulatory affairs, new operations, and varied business arms that drive grant-based activities. This requires building effective relationships with industry and research partners, along with an understanding of IT related compliance and strategies.

Specific Responsibilities
  • Advises and guides university leadership on effective, efficient, and transparent administrative, operations, and financial practices to support a leading academic research and innovation enterprise.
  • Leads an innovative, adaptable, and responsible customer-service oriented research administration and operations team that supports CMU’s large, complex, and rapidly evolving research and innovation enterprise .
  • Develops and delivers data-driven information and research to support decision making in alignment with strategic goals and communicates effectively with stakeholders.
  • Remains at the cutting edge of research trends and best practices for a large and complex portfolio of federal, industry and non-profit sponsors, and ensures these practices are integrated into strategic plans and day-to-day operations.
  • Partners across CMU’s decentralized environment to optimize and harmonize enterprise-wide research administration and operations functions to lower administrative burden and improve timely outcomes for CMU researchers, staff, and external sponsors.
  • Ensures CMU’s policies and enterprise-wide processes enable effective and efficient submission, negotiation, and management of complex sponsored program awards and contract vehicles, while balancing risk and compliance demands.
  • Ensures research integrity and compliance strategy, programs, policies, and processes keep pace with the rapidly changing regulatory landscape while simultaneously delivering streamlined and effective support for CMU researchers and staff.
  • Evaluates and advises leadership on business and financial feasibility of strategic research and innovation initiatives, including major research program investments, facilities and instruments, service agreements, technology transfer and startup partnerships and alliances.
  • Partners in the selection, implementation, and management of systems and processes that improve the accuracy and transparency of research financial forecasting, project-level budget development and projections, and non-financial commitments.
  • Partners on innovative and sustainable operations and cost models for self-supporting research units, and shared use experimental and computational research facilities.
  • Identifies and reports on benchmarked key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics for the research and innovation enterprise, including campus-wide research expenditures, operational and financial effectiveness measures.
  • Promotes and manages strategic relationships with internal and external partners and resolves conflicts as they arise.
Key Selection Criteria

Flexibility, excellence, and passion are vital qualities within Carnegie Mellon University. Inclusion, collaboration and cultural sensitivity are valued competencies at CMU. Therefore, we are in search of a team member who is able to effectively interact with a varied population of internal and external partners at a high level of integrity. We are looking for someone who shares our values and who will support the mission of the university through their work.

Required Qualifications and Skills
  • Minimum 10 years of relevant work experience within a research-intensive organization of similar size and complexity, with at least 5 years in a senior leadership role in research administration, business, and operations.
  • Ph.D. or other terminal degree in discipline of relevance to Carnegie Mellon’s research and innovation portfolio.
  • Experience establishing and maintaining systems, processes, and productive research policies to effectively manage a complex federal, industry, and non-profit sponsored award portfolio in a complaint manner.
  • Exceptional leadership, interpersonal, and communication skills, and the ability to effectively interact and build trusted relationships, establish priorities, and organize resources.
  • Knowledge of analyzing, vetting, and making data-driven recommendations for strategic investments, including new infrastructure, capital, and sustainable operations models.
  • Strong financial acumen with broader business skills in financial budgeting and literacy.
  • Ability to bring structure and transparency to complex initiatives, and to build high-performing, collaborative matrixed teams.
  • Strong analytical and decision-making skills, persuasive with the ability to lead change, presentation and people understanding skills.
  • Commitment to support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience working in higher education environment and/or a non-profit overseeing a diverse portfolio of programs from diverse federal and industry sponsors.
  • Skill at managing an organization and its people during periods of growth and change.
  • Success in administrative leadership roles, and as intellectual leader among faculty and staff.
  • Leadership and vision in operational design, and a balance of visionary thinking and practical perspective.
  • Knowledge and ability to support controlled and classified research awards and infrastructure.
  • Possess empathy, compassion, integrity, and an ethical mindset.
  • Skill as supervisor and coach, able to motivate or inspire both junior and senior staff.
  • Demonstrate patience, reliability, composure, and stability under pressure.
  • Dedication to the educational mission of Carnegie Mellon
  • Successful background check
Additional Information and Requirements
  • Work Posture: With the importance of stakeholder relationships, the role is primarily in person on campus with some remote flexibility.
  • Sponsorship: Applicants for this position must be currently legally authorized to work for CMU in the United States. CMU will not sponsor or take over sponsorship of an employment visa for this opportunity.
  • Security Clearance: A security clearance or ability to obtain a security clearance is preferred.
  • Travel Requirements: This position may require travel both domestically and internationally.
Joining the CMU team opens the door to an array of exceptional benefits, available to all full-time Carnegie Mellon University employees. Experience the full spectrum of advantages, from comprehensive medical, prescription, dental, and vision insurance to enticing retirement savings programs. Unlock your potential with tuition benefits, and take well-deserved breaks with generous paid time off and holidays. Rest easy knowing you're covered by life and accidental death and disability insurance. For a comprehensive overview of the benefits awaiting you, explore: .

At Carnegie Mellon, we value the whole package when extending offers of employment. Beyond just credentials, we consider the role & responsibilities, your invaluable work experience, and the knowledge gained through education and training. We acknowledge and appreciate your unique key skills and the diverse perspectives you bring. Our commitment to fostering an inclusive work environment means we also account for geographic differentials. Your journey with us is about more than just a job; it’s about finding the perfect fit for your professional growth and personal aspirations.

Nomination and Application Procedures:

Interested candidates are invited to apply by January 31, 2024 with a cover letter, resume, and through the CMU Careers website. Applications received after that date may be considered until the position is filled.

Carnegie Mellon University is committed to diversity and inclusion, and we welcome applications from individuals of all backgrounds and experiences.

DHR Global has been retained to manage the search. If you have any inquiries or nominations, please send an email to:

Kathryn Ullrich, Managing Partner
DHR Global

Please use ‘”CMU CROO” as the subject line when you contact DHR.

Are you interested in this exciting opportunity?! Apply today!


Pittsburgh, PA

Job Function

University Administration and Management

Position Type

Staff – Regular

Full Time/Part time

Full time

Pay Basis


More Information:
  • Please visit Why Carnegie Mellon to learn more about becoming part of an institution inspiring innovations that change the world.

  • Click here to view a listing of employee benefits

  • Carnegie Mellon University is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Disability/Veteran .

  • Statement of Assurance


Carnegie Mellon Univesity

Carnegie Mellon University challenges the curious and passionate to imagine and deliver work that matters.

A private, global research university, Carnegie Mellon stands among the world's most renowned educational institutions, and sets its own course. Start the journey here.

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 because of their strong ties to CMU.

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. 

Many seek Pittsburgh for being a hot spot for entrepreneurship and a model for future cities. Others come for the city's burgeoning food scene.

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