Vice President for Research and Innovation
The University of Central Florida (UCF) invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of Vice President for Research and Innovation. The campus community seeks a collaborative and forward-thinking leader with an entrepreneurial mindset, a dedication to inclusivity, and the experience to serve as an executive leader and senior advisor to UCF's President, Dr. Alexander N. Cartwright, and UCF's Provost and Executive Vice President, Dr. Michael D. Johnson.
UCF continues to advance on its path to be among the nation's Top 25 public metropolitan research universities with a focus on student success and having a positive impact on society. Driven by its entrepreneurialism and optimism, UCF is not defined by its contemporaries, and rather seeks to forge a new path to be an innovative leader in the future of higher education.
UCF was founded in 1963 to provide the talent, research expertise, and advanced degrees needed to fuel the emerging space industry, which had the exciting and challenging goal of helping to land people on the moon and safely bring them back to Earth — one of the most ambitious undertakings humans had known up to that point. In a relatively short time, Orlando's Hometown University emerged as a major metropolitan research university with internationally recognized academic programs in engineering, sciences, health care, hospitality, and the arts. UCF has expanded access and learning pathways, grown our student population to close to 70,000 students, and extended our physical and digital footprints to support business migration to and population growth in Florida. Our student body reflects the future of Florida and this country, composed of diverse, entrepreneurial, creative, and community-minded innovators.
UCF aspires to be a destination of choice for the most talented individuals, a best place to learn and work, and a preferred partner in our community. The university fosters a culture of innovation, inclusion, public service, and collaboration. At UCF, we consider diversity and inclusivity essential to excellence.
In 2019, UCF was designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (or HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education. The HSI designation acknowledges colleges and universities with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent student enrollment. In 2022, UCF joined the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities, a group of the nation's top research universities (R1 HSI's) dedicated to increasing opportunities for historically underserved student populations. The alliance's goals include doubling the number of Hispanic doctoral students and increasing the number of Hispanic faculty members at member institutions by 20% by 2030. UCF's diverse student population also has a significant portion that identify as Black or African American, and the university is on trajectory to soon become a Minority Serving Institution (50% or more enrollment of minority groups).
UCF is at the center of an incredible ecosystem of a diverse group of companies, organizations, and industries that lead the world in engineering, computer science, hospitality, and tourism. This includes UCF's growing health care and medical research enterprise, where our investment in our Health Sciences Campus is poised to deliver great return with a recently opened teaching hospital adjacent to our medical school in a newly formed Academic Health Science Center that unites health- and medical-related research, clinical, and educational missions across our Student Health Services and Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions. In addition, while the presence of the Kennedy Space Center's associated space industry and central Florida's hospitality industry are quite well known across the globe, what may not be so well known is that Orlando is the modeling, simulation, and training capital of the world, with a majority of the country's Department of Defense simulation and training funds flowing through our region and entities in the adjacent Central Florida Research Park.
For almost 60 years, UCF's purpose has been to meet the talent and technology needs of our region — which the university has accomplished through partnership and the ingenuity of its people. Our aspiration to be a preferred partner of choice continues to drive us to form meaningful, synergistic, and trusted relationships with major global companies — such as Siemens Energy, Mitsubishi Power, Pratt & Whitney (Raytheon), Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and L3 Harris — and government agencies — including our management of a multi-agency resource at Kennedy Space Center, a national resource in Puerto Rico, and our local Tech-Grove military/industry collaboration center.
UCF is also a member of several other important partnerships designed to increase collaboration, innovation, and student outcomes, including the University Innovation Alliance and the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. The University Innovation Alliance is the leading national coalition of public research universities committed to increasing the number and diversity of college graduates in the United States. The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities is a partnership between UCF, Florida International University, and the University of South Florida that is working to achieve a higher success rate of students entering the STEM field after high school who complete a university program and ultimately obtain a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
The university's 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, Unleashing Potential, outlines a roadmap for UCF to become the University for the Future — an aspiration to be among the most impactful universities in the country. The five areas of focus of this plan are Space Technologies and Systems, Entertainment and Immersive Experiences, Health and Human Performance, Energy and Sustainability, and Transformative Technologies and National Security, where we will focus new investments to capitalize on existing strengths and emerging opportunities. The Vice President for Research and Innovation will be a key partner and leading voice on the university's leadership team responsible for building the infrastructure to support the work of our faculty and students with a focus on the discovery and exploration metrics outlined in the 2022-2027 strategic plan.
UCF's Office of Research
At UCF, our researchers are committed to discovery and innovation. Our creative thinkers celebrate and deliver impactful visual and performing arts. Our research and scholarly and creative works help to solve real-world problems and advance immersive experiences, making a difference in people's lives. In addition to supporting innovation and the creation of knowledge, UCF's scholarship helps to strengthen and diversify our local and state economy.
With a Research 1 Carnegie Classification (R1: Doctoral Universities — Very High Research Activity), UCF attracts more than $200 million in grants, non-philanthropic gifts, sponsored awards, and sponsored research awards each year and has been on an upward trajectory since 2016. From 2015-16 to 2020-21, research awards grew 46%. Of the $212.9 million in sponsored research awards received in 2020-21, $128.78 million came from federal agencies, such as the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Department of Defense, among others. State and local government provided $41.83 million while industry provided another $42.3 million.
UCF's Office of Research oversees all aspects of research and creative activity at UCF and includes offices that support research development, faculty clusters, sponsored programs, research compliance, contract administration, technology transfer, communications, and research infrastructure.
UCF is home to more than 50 centers and institutes that aim to solve major problems and align with the economic needs of the nation, including the Institute for Simulation and Training, the National Center for Integrated Coastal Research, the Florida Space Institute, and the Florida Solar Energy Center.
UCF's Faculty Cluster Initiative links faculty from all thirteen of UCF's colleges, and several institutes and centers, to solve today's toughest challenges. The faculty are conducting cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research and education to make a positive impact across the globe and to promote UCF's excellence. The initial six clusters were launched in 2015 with 33 faculty positions and have since grown to nine clusters with more than 135 joint and secondary joint faculty, each key to their cluster's success.
This past year, UCF launched an internal Strategic Investment Program that will award up to $50 million to selected faculty and staff proposals that can elevate the university's academic excellence, student success, and impact. In addition, this past legislative session the state of Florida invested an additional $27 million in annual operating dollars for UCF to focus on key areas, such as engineering, semiconductors, optics, and nursing. We will work to build on these investments to reach our full potential.
UCF remains a leader in innovation, ranking in the top 20 in U.S. News & World Report's Most Innovative Schools category for five consecutive years, including No. 20 across all institutions for 2023. With the latest ranking, UCF is the highest ranked in Florida and in the same company as excellent universities such as Georgia Tech, Harvard, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas at Austin.
According to the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association, UCF ranks 24th among public universities in the U.S. and 60th in the world for producing patents, ahead of Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M and Penn State. In 2021, UCF had 111 invention disclosures, 118 total U.S. patent applications filed, 64 U.S. patents issued, 29 licenses and options executed, and 21 products on the market with over 2.7 million in royalties/licensing fees.
The Vice President for Research and Innovation will serve as a key member of the president's cabinet and the university's leadership team to align research and creative activities with UCF's overall academic mission. The Vice President for Research and Innovation will be responsible for strategically advancing institutional research policies and procedures; coordinating and providing oversight of research, commercialization, scholarship, and creative works at UCF; and providing leadership to help UCF achieve its goals in discovery and exploration and growth as a diverse and inclusive workplace.
The Vice President for Research and Innovation will lead and support efforts across the institution to:
- Advocate for and celebrate creative works and research of scholars;
- Champion and oversee the development of key infrastructure needs necessary to support research and creative activities;
- Promote interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research;
- Establish and grow research partnerships between the university and local, regional, national, and international organizations;
- Promote the commercialization of research and organize activities that bridge the gap between the university and the marketplace;
- Integrate research and education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels; and
- Ensure the integrity of research processes and policies.
This position will be responsible for bringing together units that are deeply committed to advancing the mission of the university with a sharp focus on enriching the human experience through discovery and innovation. In addition, this position will play a critical role helping the university identify and grow new sources of revenue to fuel our investments in excellence and power our new strategic plan.
The vice president must partner effectively with faculty across the university — as well as with industry leaders and community partners — to creatively identify opportunities to strengthen UCF's research and creative enterprise. This role will be critical to advancing the university's goals of increasing our focus on research by supporting basic, applied, clinical, and translational research activities and reaching $350 million in annual research expenditures. The role will also be critical in advancing metrics related to commercialization and startup activity related to IP generated at the university.
The successful candidate will be a distinguished national scholar, researcher, and educator. While academic experience, both professional and administrative, is strongly desired, exceptional candidates who have demonstrated a high degree of national or international scholarly and administrative success outside of academia will be considered. The successful candidate must also exhibit substantial administrative leadership experience at a research university or comparable setting.
- An earned doctorate or other terminal degree from an accredited university and a distinguished research record in their academic discipline; and
- At least 15 years of demonstrated, progressive leadership experience in academic administration, research, and/or innovation and commercialization.
- A demonstrated ability to champion and prioritize the research, creative works, and commercialization efforts of an institution;
- The ability to promote integration of the research and educational missions of the university;
- The ability to create, grow, and lead federal and industry research partnerships with the university;
- The ability to represent and strongly advocate for the university's research mission to a variety of constituencies, external and internal, including funding agencies;
- The ability to foster an inclusive and diverse office of research;
- The ability to create and lead faculty development programs centered around scholarship and economic development; and
- The ability to organize and lead units designed to promote effective intellectual property development, commercialization, and entrepreneurship.
- Extensive professional experience in research and research administration, with a demonstrated ability to support the needs of faculty and researchers;
- Extensive scholarly interest and commitment to promoting the full spectrum of scholarship, including that conducted by undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, interdisciplinary research, and creative works;
- Extensive knowledge of, and experience with, research funding issues, policies, and sources;
- The ability to administer a large research-support enterprise with a focus on outcomes, including exercising fiscally sound oversight of the budget;
- The ability to delegate, manage people effectively, and foster the professional development of staff;
- A demonstrated ability to lead and manage change in a complex organization;
- Experience managing the relationship between research and economic development programs; and
- An understanding of the importance of compliance and regulatory matters to the research enterprise, and the ability to develop an effective and efficient organization to manage them.
Partnership, Innovation, and Commercialization
- Experience in building and sustaining collaborative partnerships with industry, vendor capital institutions, philanthropic organizations, state agencies, and other universities;
- The ability to organize programs to support the commercialization of research and IP generated across the university;
- An understanding of the importance of promoting and leveraging Hispanic/Minority Serving Institution funding programs to achieve overarching university research innovation and commercialization goals;
- Demonstrated ability to work with a diverse faculty in a wide range of disciplines and the vision and administrative expertise to create and implement innovative research and scholarly initiatives while enhancing the diversity of the university community; and
- The ability to build teams for commercialization.
In addition to the willingness and ability to execute all of the above, successful candidates should possess the following qualities and characteristics:
- Proven commitment to transparency, integrity, and demonstrated values that align with those of UCF;
- Demonstrated ability to foster a community with a culture of inclusiveness that holds all of its members accountable for creating, supporting, and championing diversity and the expansion of opportunity and a commitment to equity;
- Inclusive, collaborative, and transparent approach to decision-making that engenders trust;
- Desire to listen to stakeholders and understand the mission, vision, values, and history of UCF;
- Successful record of enabling and encouraging innovation;
- Proven ability to ask challenging questions, followed by effective decision-making and action;
- Excellent verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills; and
- Ability to thrive in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
Application and Nomination
For inquiries and to submit nominations, contact UCF's Executive Search Team at ExecutiveSearch@ucf.edu. More information about the opportunity and UCF, as well as the application link, can be found at: https://www.ucf.edu/leadership/vice-president-for-research/. The preferred application date is November 4, 2022.
As an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, UCF encourages all qualified applicants to apply, including women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and members of traditionally underrepresented populations. UCF's Equal Opportunity Statement can be viewed at: http://www.oie.ucf.edu/documents/PresidentsStatement.pdf. As a Florida public university, UCF makes all application materials and selection procedures available to the public upon request.