Vice President for Research

Wayne State University (Wayne State/WSU), a premier public research university in the heart of Detroit, invites nominations and applications for the position of Vice President for Research (VPR).

For a copy of the full Search Prospectus, click Wayne State Vice President for Research Position Prospectus

The Vice President for Research serves as a member of the university’s executive leadership team, reporting directly to the President, and works closely with the Provost and other members of the President’s Cabinet. The Vice President for Research is responsible for leading an office to mobilize and enhance Wayne State University’s research capabilities and productivity; facilitating successful competition for external funding; and successfully demonstrating WSU’s expertise in knowledge generation to respond to the regional and state needs of government, business, organizations, and individuals. The Office of the Vice President for Research also establishes and implements research policies and procedures, analyzes, and disseminates research productivity data, and represents the university’s research interests to operations and organizations outside the university.

Wayne State is Michigan’s only urban research university, and holds the Carnegie Foundation’s highest ranking for both research intensiveness and community engagement.  Wayne State’s research and development expenditures totaled nearly $242.2 million in fiscal year 2022 — a 10.9% increase since 2014. Based on NSF data, Wayne State ranked 72nd among public universities and 108th among all universities in FY21 research expenditures.

Wayne State has world-class research programs in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, education, law and humanities. The VPR will work closely with schools and colleges to expand external funding opportunities and to support faculty research and collaborations.

As the senior research officer of the university, the Vice President for Research is responsible for collaborating with relevant constituencies to develop and implement a vision, plan, and policies to guide and expand the university’s research portfolio, and work with faculty to oversee critical aspects of the university’s research infrastructure and operations.

Direct reports to the Vice President for Research currently include assistant/associate vice presidents, directors, staff members within the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR). The Division of Research consists of Sponsored Programs Administration, the Office of Research Compliance, the Division of Laboratory Animal Research, and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. Four of the university’s 29 centers and institutes also report to the Vice President for Research.

The university is committed to ensuring that Wayne State advances its role as a world leader in discovery and knowledge application. To do so, WSU will increase strategic integrative research foci and nurture the broad ecosystem for scholarly inquiry, discovery, creativity, and knowledge application by integrating academic strengths with the university’s community engagement mission and urban location. The research ecosystem is a key driver for economic growth, for the revitalization of Detroit, and for addressing real-world challenges in rapidly evolving urban environments across the globe. Engaging students at all levels enhances the research mission, as well as students’ academic experience and career preparation.

In support of the mission and strategic plan of the university, the next VPR will be tasked with the following opportunities and expectations:

  • Leadership with vision
  • Serve as a passionate advocate and effective spokesperson
  • Collaborate with the departments, centers, research units, schools, and colleges
  • Boost programs and actions for funding research
  • Strengthen the research infrastructure
  • Generate real-world impact

Specifically, in connection with the above, the VPR will:

  • Oversee the work of the OVPR, Integrative Biosciences, Sponsored Program Administration, Research Compliance, Research Communications, Research Development, Translational Sciences and Clinical Research Innovation, Division of Laboratory Animal Research, Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics (dual with School of Medicine), Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Institute of Gerontology, and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute.
  • Develop and implement a vision, plan and policies to guide the university’s broad research portfolio in achieving the research goals of the university through regular consultation with researchers and research advisory groups across the campus.
  • Work closely with colleges, schools and centers to advance the broad research mission of Wayne State University.
  • Develop innovative ways to support faculty in seeking grant opportunities.
  • Develop strategies to ensure the necessary research infrastructure is available and aligned with existing research strengths and emerging research opportunities.
  • Ensure compliance with all federal, state and university regulations governing research, and ensure that research is conducted according to the highest ethical standards.
  • Work closely with the Provost and research faculty and advisory groups in the schools, colleges and centers to develop, refine and implement a university-wide vision and strategic plan to strengthen the university’s research portfolio and raise its research ranking.
  • Work with the Office of the Provost to strengthen research within the academic programs, departments and centers or institutes.
  • Work with the Graduate School to recruit top doctoral students.
  • Promote multidisciplinary and translational research opportunities across the university, as well as identify, develop and nurture innovation, collaboration, and strategic research initiatives.
  • Partner with TechTown, the university’s affiliated business incubator and accelerator, to encourage the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem both within WSU and across the region.
  • Participate on the steering committee for the Office of Business Innovation, the university’s central resource for student entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and corporate relations.
  • Serve as a member of the leadership team for the University Research Corridor, an alliance of Michigan’s three leading research institutions.
  • Serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet, the senior leadership team of the university, sharing common university-wide goals and accountability with other team members.
  • Develop, oversee, implement, fund and assess research initiatives as identified in and aligned with the university’s strategic plan; participate in strategic planning efforts.
  • Advise the President, Provost and Deans on research initiatives, policy and operations.
  • Communicate research results and information to research faculty, university administrators, and other internal and external research constituencies.
  • Cultivate relationships with governmental granting and regulatory agencies and industry to aid in improving WSU’s research efforts and identification of research opportunities.
  • Foster an environment that recognizes research excellence, collegiality, and scholarship across the university.

Professional Qualifications and Key Attributes:

  • A doctorate from a research university.
  • Broad experience with externally funded research.
  • A record as an investigator of distinction with intellectual stature and research credentials demonstrating accomplishment at a level commensurate with the rank of full professor in field of scholarship and research.
  • Administrative leadership experience in a relevant research environment, leading complex research teams and organizations.
  • Demonstrated success in technology transfer and commercialization efforts.
  • Demonstrated success as an administrator and fiscal manager.
  • Demonstrated experience in working at the federal level on research initiatives, challenges and policies.
  • Record of success in procuring and managing sponsored research programs.
  • Experience in research policy formation, compliance issues and implementation.
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with academic departments and programs, including graduate programs and entities such as the Graduate School, and to promote university-wide interdisciplinary research efforts.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, including a clear commitment to transparency.
  • Demonstrated success in fostering student opportunities for research, with evidence of student-focused and service-minded leadership.
  • Demonstrated commitment to shared governance and close collaboration with faculty.
  • Demonstrated ability to build strong relationships with business and industry.
  • Commitment to the mission and purpose of an urban public research university and ability to work with a culturally diverse population.

 Wayne State University, founded in 1868, is a nationally recognized public, urban research university in Detroit. Committed to educational opportunity, research and community enrichment, Wayne State serves a critical role in Michigan’s higher education landscape. It holds the highest Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching designations in both research and community engagement.

Just as the city of Detroit is undergoing a renaissance, the university itself is in a time of significant transformation, strengthening its ability to serve students from Michigan and around the world.

Wayne State University’s campus, located in the cultural center and historic district in the heart of Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood, encompasses approximately 200 acres. The university enrolls nearly 25,000 students, making it the third largest among Michigan’s 15 public universities and one of the largest in the nation. Wayne State boasts the most diverse student body among Michigan’s public universities, with students of widely diverse backgrounds from nearly every U.S. state and 79 countries. In a recent survey, Wayne State University students ranked the campus diversity highest among a list of campus strengths. The university’s comprehensive academic programs are offered through 13 schools and colleges.

Wayne State University ranked 72nd among American public universities, according to the FY 2021 National Science Foundation Research rankings; its medical sciences, physics, chemistry, physical science and psychology programs and its law school rank in the top 100 nationwide. Annual research funding awarded in 2022 was nearly $288.4 million. Wayne State has a thriving research and technology park called TechTown Detroit and a number of partnerships with government, industry and business. The university houses one of 41 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers — the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute — as well as the NIH-funded Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors.

The Search Committee invites letters of interest and nominations to be submitted directly to the search firm, Anthem Executive. Correspondence should include a curriculum vitae and a letter of interest describing relevant experience and interest in the position, and should be submitted to Scott Watson, Michael Ballew, Florene Stawowy, or J.R. Wheless at:

While applications and nominations will be accepted until the position is filled, interested parties are encouraged to submit their materials ASAP to assure optimal consideration. There will be an initial cut-off date for submission to the committee. Expressing interest is the first step in receiving consideration and does not make one an applicant for the position.

Wayne State University is an equal opportunity employer. No person will be discriminated against or harassed in employment because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, arrest record, height, weight, sexual orientation, qualified Vietnam era veterans, qualified special disabled veterans, recently separated veterans and other protected veterans, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal or state law.

University policy requires certain persons who are offered employment to undergo a background check, including a criminal history check, before starting to work. If you are offered employment, the university will inform you if a background check is required.