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Executive Director

Rice University
Texas, United States
Salary Not Specified
Date posted
Feb 22, 2024

Special Instructions to Applicants : All interested applicants must attach a cover letter and a resume in the Supporting Documents section of the application in a PDF format . Please note that the applicant tracking system does not convert attachments in Word format successfully.

Position Summary

The Smalley-Curl Institute (SCI) is the home of the Applied Physics Graduate Program , the Rice Center for Quantum Materials (RCQM), the Rice Quantum Initiative (RQI), and several endowed postdoctoral research fellowships . The Institute assists its members in forging new, cross-cutting and interdisciplinary research areas, and in seeking new means of supporting their work; for example, through Thematic Working Interest Groups and scientific outreach. SCI participates in establishing strong industry and agency collaborations, and takes part in novel educational and public outreach programs. Research in SCI encompasses advanced materials, quantum materials and phenomena, plasmonics and photonics, biophysics and bioengineering, ultracold atomic physics, condensed matter and chemical physics, and all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology. In order to achieve its mission, SCI seeks:
  • To establish long-term strategic partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders, from community members, to industry and federal agencies, to foundations and philanthropic organizations
  • With Rice Development and other partners, to build a large endowment to support a greater number of high-value postdoctoral fellowships, as well as academic visitors such as outside faculty on sabbatical
  • To identify and bring together faculty teams to catalyze large, multi-PI grant proposals – such as MRSECs and EFRCs
  • To build a sustainable infrastructure to elevate the institute’s national and international profile
In collaboration with the institute’s leadership, the executive director develops plans to achieve the institute’s mission and strategic priorities and is responsible for directing the implementation of these plans. The executive director develops, initiates, and monitors all institute activities, including (but not limited to):
  • Establishing new and nurturing existing internal and external contacts and relationships for continued and expanded support of the institute’s programs. This includes relationships in industry, government agencies, foundations and philanthropic organizations.
  • With those contacts: identifying, qualifying and developing potential funding sources and opportunities that will bring additional research funding to the institute and the broader Rice community
  • Aligning resources with the institute’s mission and strategy:
    • Overseeing the institute’s administrative workload and programmatic activities
    • Oversight of staff hiring, as well as their needs, and a plan for staff growth
  • Overseeing – with the Applied Physics Graduate Director – the Applied Physics Program
  • Building sustainable relationships with the university faculty and leaders, as well as domestic and international experts, associated with the institute’s technical focus areas, toward fostering intersecting communities for pursuing breakthrough research
The executive director reports to the Faculty Director and to the institute leadership, and represents the institute internally and externally, as needed. The executive director will work closely with the institute administrators and associated faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to fulfill the mission of the institute.

Proposed Hiring Range: Commensurate with experience

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 6 years of related experience in administration management, and/ or working with faculty
  • Entrepreneurial mindset, with a track record of innovative thinking, analysis and practical activities
  • Capacity to think analytically and creatively, and to develop new and innovative approaches to external affairs
  • Ability to be an effective and coherent leader and the capacity to lead highly motivated and autonomous staff in an effective and flexible way
  • Exemplary verbal, visual and written communication skills
  • Ability to build sustainable professional relationships
Essential Functions
  • Collaborates with faculty, university and institute leadership to develop, set, and execute the strategic goals and objectives of the institute
  • Represents the institute and university at events across the community, state, national and international level to further the institute’s mission and goals
  • Leads the development and directs the execution of programs and initiatives to advance the institute’s mission and strategic objectives
  • Fund-raising:
    • Identifies, qualifies and develops potential funding sources
    • Coordinates fundraising for the institute, including major programs and projects, with Rice University groups that focus on the scientific and technical interests of the institute
  • Community-building:
    • Fosters the development of interdisciplinary research, building collaborative research programs to connect individuals and researchers at other institutions at the national and international level
    • Develops strategies for establishing and nurturing external relations with industry, agency and foundation collaborators
    • Engages the institute in these efforts, in part, through communication, events and marketing
  • Oversees the administrative and financial operations of the institute
  • Performs all other duties as assigned.
Additional Functions
  • Leads and directs the institute staff, and directs key administrative and financial functions including administrative operations, human resources, budget management and forecasting, and space;
  • Serves as a key liaison with stakeholders and constituency groups
  • Within the fundraising efforts mentioned above, serves as a liaison with Development and Alumni Relations
  • PhD or other Doctoral Degree in Engineering or Natural Sciences, in an area related to nanoscale science and/or quantum phenomena, such as Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, etc.
  • Ten years of work experience, with demonstrated experience in the following:
    • Effectiveness in working with faculty at research-intensive universities
    • Effectiveness in collaborating with some of the following organizations: corporations, government agencies, NGOs, and research foundations
    • Demonstrated ability to translate strategy into actionable plans and overseeing execution;
    • Demonstrated ability to attract corporate and agency funding, particularly in the areas of advanced materials, quantum magnetism, plasmonics and photonics, biophysics and bioengineering, ultracold atom physics, condensed matter and chemical physics, and nanoscience and nanotechnology
    • An established network of contacts in broad types of corporations and organizations
Preferred Skills
  • Highly motivated and creative;
  • Advanced problem-solving skills, adept at creating contingency plans;
  • Ability to work well under pressure and manage projects simultaneously;
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills;
  • Attention to detail and flexibility;
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team to meet expected deadlines and schedules;
  • Ability to lead and motivate others;
  • Strategic skills to craft and implement fundraising and/or project plan.
Rice University HR | Benefits:

Rice Mission and Values: Mission and Values | Rice University

Rice University is an Equal Opportunity Employer with commitment to diversity at all levels, and considers for employment qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, disability or protected veteran status.

Faculty and staff are expected (but not required) to have completed a full vaccination series for COVID-19 (currently defined as full course COVID-19 Vaccine (typically two shots of a WHO-approved COVID-19 Vaccine or one J&J) and a COVID-19 booster. Rice does not require documentation for COVID 19 vaccination at this time for faculty and staff. More information can be found here:

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