Announcing AIR Director Search

November 17th, 2021

For more information and to apply, see the position on UArizona Talent.

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The University of Arizona (UArizona) seeks an experienced and visionary leader to serve as Director of the Arizona Institutes for Resilience (AIR), a new university-wide interdisciplinary research institute in the UArizona Office of Research, Innovation, and Impact (RII.) The interdisciplinary and collaborative research in AIR bridges disciplines, viewpoints, and geography to produce and provide research-based solution options for decision-makers in government, industry, and civil society.

The next Director of AIR will join the UArizona at a critical moment in AIR’s history and will play an important role in its continued success.

About the Arizona Institutes for Resilience (AIR)

AIR includes many Centers, Institutes, and Programs that work together to design and implement a “roadmap to resilience,” drawing on the expertise at many colleges and departments to promote partnerships and interdisciplinary activities. Looking to the future, AIR will help individuals, businesses and communities manage risk and find opportunities associated with solving the climate crisis.

AIR focuses on solutions that engage a full array of disciplines, professional schools, international capacity, and entrepreneurial opportunities. The AIR themes are designed to encourage the formation of interdisciplinary teams across the university to conduct solution- focused research in topics such as climate adaptation and resilience solutions; resilience measurement; international development; national security and the environment; data, informatics and modeling; biodiversity, conservation and ecosystems; and many more.

Established in April 2020, AIR is already being recognized for the work of its institutes, centers and programs for its successes, but is poised to have an increased impact in the global community through heightened visibility, increased extramural funding, and a compelling strategic vision that takes into account the intersectionality of its work.

The multitude of ideas and profound collaborations housed in AIR position it to become a key player in dealing with some of the greatest resilience challenges facing our society today, such as sustainable water supplies, renewable energy, food security, public health, justice, and gender equality. The next Director will lead the Institute through its next iteration of growth, greater distinction, and increased impact.

Resilience is the capacity of a system to respond to a disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly without losing function or services. Resilience in human systems involves the capacity to manage risks and to identify opportunities for innovation.

About the University of Arizona

The UArizona is one of the nation’s leading public universities with a distinguished history of academic excellence, research innovation, and a student-centered approach. Established in 1885 as the first university of three state-funded public institutions of higher education in the Arizona territory, UArizona has been a crucial force behind the economic, intellectual, social, and cultural vitality of this environmentally and culturally diverse region. In the tradition of land grant universities, UArizona continues to deliver upon its mission and tirelessly and innovatively addresses the most pressing needs of the region.

UArizona enrolls a diverse student body of 46,932 (as of Fall 2020), including 36,503 undergraduates and 10,429 graduate students. Nearly 45% of undergraduate students are from historically underrepresented groups and more than 10,000 students identify as first-generation college students. 58% of students are Arizona residents, with many transferring in from the Arizona community college system. As the first public, four-year Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in the state, the institution is committed to responsively meeting the educational needs of the vibrant and increasingly diverse communities in the state. Currently, UArizona is one of four HSIs affiliated within the Association of American Universities (AAU) and it is classified as a Carnegie Research I institution.

As Arizona’s land-grant university, UArizona strives to transform the lives of its students and solve the biggest challenges facing the state of Arizona, the United States, and the world. The University of Arizona is ranked in the Top 20 in research expenditures by the National Science Foundation of all universities nationwide. Aligning with the university’s core value of a diverse and inclusive community, it is an institutional responsibility to recognize and acknowledge that UArizona sits on the original homelands of the O’otham and Yaqui peoples who have stewarded its land since time immemorial.

The campus is home to an outstanding faculty of over 3,100 full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty representing a diverse array of backgrounds. Shared governance is an especially important feature at UArizona, where the Faculty Senate recommends academic curricula and academic personnel policies, but also participates in the strategic and financial planning process and in developing procedures relative to the general operations of the university.

The UArizona Office for Research, Innovation and Impact is the university’s intellectual home for interdisciplinary, stakeholder-based policy and outreach. The office works to support the world-class research enterprise at UArizona as faculty and student researchers forge innovative pathways and form powerful collaborations, all while paying particular attention to the institution’s land-grant mission. UArizona is ranked among the top 20 public universities nationwide with more than $734 million in research activity.

AIR is one of several University Research Institutes and Centers that report to the Senior Vice President for Research. Across the university, there are nearly 20 different units collaborating around environmental issues. However, what distinguishes the AIR approach from other research centers across the university is its orientation toward creating resilience solution options, the emphasis on transdisciplinarity, and establishment of applied-research objectives through policy dialogues and public engagement.

Role of the Director

The Director of AIR is responsible for leading activities that foster interdisciplinary collaboration to address key resilience issues, generating increased external support to grow research and outreach that leads to substantive public benefit and increased external visibility. To enable the high-impact nature of the Institute’s work, the Director oversees multiple, and often complex, streams of funding for both projects and personnel, including flexible academic arrangements and opportunities.

Annually, the Director is responsible for submitting a workplan and budget to the Office of Research, Innovation, and Impact to secure approval of funding. The Director reports to the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation in RII, and it has a dotted line report to the Associate Vice President for Resilience and International Development. As the primary representative for AIR, the Director manages outreach programs and relationships both within and outside of the University. Of primary importance for the Director is coordinating and utilizing resources from RII as well as those in colleges across the University.

The Director is responsible for all “outward-looking” functions of AIR, including reporting to and responding to University and external advisory committees, and addressing the media.

The new Director will be joining AIR at a dynamic, formational time and will become a part of a community of researchers and educators all joined by their dedication to the university’s resilience mission and values. As the representative of the Institute both at the UArizona and in the community at large, the incoming Director will be responsible for furthering its interdisciplinary research by expanding extramural funding of its activities, connecting diverse researchers across campus in synergistic and thoughtful ways, strengthening its partnership with relevant organizations in Arizona and around the world, and increasing the visibility of UArizona’s resilience-related research to external entities. In doing so, the new Director will be expected to address the following key opportunities and challenges:

  • Further enhance and elevate the Institute’s visibility and impact at the University and across the globe;
  • Expand and diversify financial resources to allow AIR to fulfill its many ambitions;
  • Continue to develop relationships and leverage the full capacity of the UArizona;
  • Foster and deepen a strong sense of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within AIR;
  • Establish, strengthen, and grow the bonds between AIR and institutions across the globe that have complimentary missions.

With an emphasis on collaborative leadership and management, the new Director will continue to foster common goals and a sense of teamwork in AIR. The new Director will work closely with a diverse staff of program directors and managers to determine, prioritize, and support the work of their units to the highest standards.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities

The AIR Director, working with and through an Associate Director and a core staff, in partnership with senior administrators, colleges, and units across UArizona, oversees a core office that has the following responsibilities:

  • Strategy: Develop and implement a global strategy for AIR, working closely with RII leadership;
  • Management: Establish priorities, metrics, supervision, operations, leadership on and off campus, and of matrix management across UArizona units linked to AIR;
  • Finance: Steward financial resources under AIR management, including RII core funding, University Strategic Initiative funds, State funds under the Technology, Research and Innovation Funds (TRIF) program, federal government, and philanthropic funds;
  • Research: Leverage, coordinate, build upon, and support existing strengths and centers across UArizona; establish cross-university research themes;
  • Communications, Marketing, and Development: Facilitate cross-university and external communications, web presence, staff recruitment, partner development, and relationship management with donors;
  • Engagement and Outreach: Leverage strengths across UArizona to develop collaborative solutions; build and support engagement networks; lead and facilitate conversations and convenings;
  • Applied Solutions: Design and implement a “roadmap to resilience” in partnership with collaborators, and metrics to evaluate progress; develop or co-develop solutions to resilience challenges;
  • Education: Support the development of a first-year undergraduate experience that focuses on resilience and research skills for solving the climate crisis in a changing world. Support the development of new online and in-person professional, graduate, continuing education and certificate programs within departments and colleges.
  • Community: Actively support and promote a strong sense of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through genuine commitment and dedicated leadership efforts.

Qualifications and Characteristics

A candidate for AIR Director should bring expertise, relationships, and skills that complement the Institute’s existing capacity in order to advance a wide range of solution-oriented interdisciplinary research programs. The successful candidate should be an individual with substantial and widely recognized accomplishments in areas relevant to the AIR mission as the Director will have the opportunity to influence future directions of the Institute that complement existing solution-oriented interdisciplinary research.

The successful candidate should be an innovative and collaborative administrator with the ability to articulate a clear, strategic, and compelling vision for how the Institute can expand its impact, and should possess many, if not all, of the following professional qualifications and personal characteristics:

  • An earned graduate degree (preferably PhD) and at least 7 years of experience in relevant research themes with scholarly credentials commensurate with tenure and appointment at the rank of Professor at the UArizona;
  • Previous administrative experience as a unit leader in government, university, or a not-for profit organization (NGO);
  • A record of collaborative leadership that fosters common goals within a department or program and the broader university community, and ability to advocate for the organization;
  • Commitment to public service, environmental stewardship, and recognition of the value of research in informing policy and management decisions;
  • Demonstrated success in identifying, cultivating, and forming relationships to increase targeted activities and advance success in outcome metrics;
  • Demonstrated success in securing extramural funding to advance the goals and objectives of projects, programs, and initiatives;
  • A history of productive collaboration with external organizations and constituencies, especially with diverse and/or underserved constituencies;
  • Sustained interest in outreach and engagement in both domestic and international settings;
  • Well-developed people skills and an ability to represent and support staff, allow for/defend academic independence, act with congeniality, collegiality, openness, responsiveness, respectfulness, dynamism, innovativeness; and be a good listener and team player;
  • Political astuteness and the ability to communicate effectively with administration and campus colleagues; be transparent, trustworthy and consultative, and have good strategic instincts;
  • A record of entrepreneurial experience and ability to both lead and participate in research networks, connect to established funding prospects, craft successful proposals, and build effective interdisciplinary research teams that are geographically dispersed;
  • Evidence of, and commitment to fostering the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion among faculty, staff, and research partners;
  • Willingness to take initiative to establish or improve procedures and processes, and creativity to seek solutions to achieve desired outcomes;
  • Experience working with advisory committees and/or boards of directors;
  • Willingness to travel globally and ability to work collaboratively with diverse partners and stakeholders, including governmental agencies, NGOs, community organizations, university researchers, and the private sector.


The second largest city in the state of Arizona and the 33rd largest city in the United States, Tucson is a vibrant metropolitan area with a population of over 1 million and the University of Arizona at the center.

Tucson is the home of numerous cultural attractions, a premier culinary scene, and a thriving downtown that represents the city’s deep-rooted history and vibrant future. For more information, please see

At the University of Arizona, we value our inclusive climate because we know that diversity in experiences and perspectives is vital to advancing innovation, critical thinking, solving complex problems, and creating an inclusive academic community. As an Hispanic-serving institution and a Native American/Alaska Native-serving institution, we translate these values into action by seeking individuals who have experience and expertise working with diverse students, colleagues, and constituencies. Because we seek a workforce with a wide range of perspectives and experiences, we provide equal employment opportunities to applicants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. As an Employer of National Service, we also welcome alumni of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other national service programs and others who will help us advance our Inclusive Excellence initiative aimed at creating a university that values student, staff and faculty engagement in addressing issues of diversity and inclusiveness.


For more information and to apply, see the position on UArizona Talent.