University of Pennsylvania — Vice Provost and Director of Libraries

Position Description

The University of Pennsylvania seeks nominations for and expressions of interest in the position of Vice Provost and Director of Libraries.  Reporting to the Provost, the director will be expected to carry forward Penn’s reputation as a leader in defining the place and capabilities of a library in the 21st century. They will expand the university’s reach and access to print and digital collections and programming in support of research, teaching, and learning; foster internal and external partnerships and collaborations; collaborate with the communities of scholars on campus; recruit and nurture a diverse, professional staff; and garner and manage resources toward strategic goals.

The Penn Libraries provide access to more than 7.5 million volumes, nearly 190,000 journals, and millions of multimedia materials. The Penn Libraries’ mission is to provide high-quality information resources—both print and digital—in a manner that is reliable, timely, responsive to the needs of its constituents, and delivered with expertise while stewarding and preserving the knowledge contained in Penn’s holdings. The libraries strive to implement novel programs and services around these resources to create bridges between the Penn Libraries and schools and centers around the University. The Penn Libraries are dedicated to pushing the frontiers of innovation and enterprise to impact teaching, learning and research provide a unique environment – one that includes a network of learning spaces that reflect the latest advances in pedagogy – toward the advancement of academics at the University. In response to the increasing diversity and internationalization of the Penn community, the Libraries reflect that diversity in its work to attract a cadre of top talent who introduce new skills and fields to the Penn Libraries and to Penn as a whole. To advance the goals of President Gutmann’s Compact 2020, the Penn Libraries seek to:

  • Ensure access to scholarship for those at the University and beyond;
  • Empower research, teaching, and professional practice;
  • Enable innovation and creativity in scholarship;
  • Enrich individual and group learning across all disciplines;
  • ​Engage all stakeholders in research and the creation of knowledge to benefit our users.

The Position

The Vice Provost and Director of Libraries oversees 325 staff members and is responsible for an annual budget of $67 million. The Library’s organization includes Associate University Librarians, additional librarians and staff. As a senior academic officer, the Director of Libraries reports to the Provost, is a member of the university’s senior leadership team, and works closely with the campus administration, the faculty, and colleagues throughout the University of Pennsylvania in planning and implementing the goals of the Library.

The Director of Libraries is responsible for the development and administration of library services and policies in support of Penn’s research, instructional, and patient care programs. They are responsible for the development of library collections, leadership and management of the Library’s professional and support staff; long-range planning for service, staffing, automation, and physical facilities; administration of the annual budget; leadership in raising funds outside the University; and leadership at the local, regional, university-wide, national, and international levels on issues of concern to and the needs of academic research libraries. She or he must provide leadership for expanding the Library’s contract- and grant-based initiatives.

The Director must manage the business operations of the Library; evaluate and prioritize the needs for and then invest in relevant technology; implement space allocations and designs for the modern library era; strengthen ties and build coalitions with allied institutions; and advocate for the libraries and their missions. These responsibilities include the oversight, management, and care of the Library’s primary capital assets, its library collections; the development of digital services, including digital reformatting of existing collections, creation of unique and original digital resources in various formats, and development of Web-based interfaces to these resources, including management of data storage, a user-facing research data portal, and administration of the Library’s long-term digital preservation infrastructure.

The Director of Libraries will be a leader across Penn and will work closely with colleagues throughout the University, the nation, and the world to promote effective library resource-sharing programs and other cooperative ventures that provide access to information resources and services for Penn faculty, students, and staff. She or he will play a leadership role in the local and consortial activities related to housing and delivery of digital resources; and represent the Library on campus-wide and university-wide decision-making bodies. The Director is also responsible for the Library’s engagement with the local community as it occurs through events, exhibitions, outreach, publications, and social media.


Candidates must possess expertise in an academic discipline and/or the field of library/information science; a record of setting and achieving strategic goals; a deep understanding of the changing nature of scholarly communication; a vision for the new roles academic research libraries will play; demonstrated success in integrating technology to support and improve services, build collections, and enable innovative programming; a proven record of managing resources effectively; a commitment to developing best practices for the acquisition, preservation, and use of printed and digital materials; and an uncompromising commitment to academic excellence, to the highest ethical standards, and to the creation and support of a vibrant and broadly diverse community of faculty, students and staff across the University.

The successful candidate will have extensive knowledge and experience in providing effective library services to support a university’s mission of teaching, research and impact; and significant experience and knowledge of state-of-the-art developments in advanced technologies and information systems in higher education, such as networked information technologies, library information databases and systems, academic and enterprise computing, and digital library systems. She or he will have demonstrated success in grant writing and in fundraising; commitment to and success in achieving institutional diversity goals, and the ability to direct and supervise professional and classified staff. A relevant graduate degree is required.

The University

The University of Pennsylvania ranks among the world’s leading research universities. Founded by Benjamin Franklin and located in vibrant Philadelphia – the nation’s fifth largest city and the second largest on the eastern seaboard – Penn has a storied, egalitarian, and pragmatic history. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the University was a global pioneer in undergraduate liberal arts education, and in supporting interconnections among scholarly and teaching programs in the arts and sciences and the professions. Penn developed some of the nation’s earliest and finest graduate and professional schools – it was the first institution in the nation to be named a “University,” it is home to the North America’s first medical school (Perelman School of Medicine), among the nation’s first professorship in law, and the world’s oldest collegiate school of business (Wharton). Fueled by a combined system of targeted central support and decentralized Responsibility Center Management, which Penn invented and adopted as a management model in 1974, all of its schools are today ranked among the very best in the nation.

The Trustees appointed President Amy Gutmann in 2004 and have recently extended her tenure until at least 2022. In successive, integrated strategic vision statements and campus master plans, she and the University leadership continue to set high ambitions for Penn. She has attracted a powerful and exceptionally stable leadership team, who function as an integrated whole. The University, led by its president, values both vision and execution, embedded in detailed planning, followed by determined administration.  In April of 2017, Wendall Pritchett was named provost of the University of Pennsylvania. Previously a member of Penn’s law faculty, he had also served for five years as chancellor of the Camden campus of Rutgers University.

Penn is home to a distinguished standing faculty of 2,500, engaged in groundbreaking research and professional practice that crosses disciplinary and professional boundaries. Through systematic investment across schools, it has attracted some of the academy’s most eminent scholars and teachers. Penn is home to a large and growing cadre of Nobel winners, MacArthur fellows, and National Academy members, among many other honorees. The academic distinction of its faculty has steadily improved.

Penn’s 12 schools reside on a single, compact, urban campus, with the entire medical center on the same contiguous campus; span the arts, sciences, humanities, and professions; and display a special commitment to integrative interdisciplinary scholarship and to energetic local and global engagement. The University, through the president and the provost, retains significant central resources, including the innovative Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professors program, which they deploy strategically, to stimulate the most rewarding inter-disciplinary investigation. Penn combines strong deans, who control their revenue streams, programs, and personnel, with a cohesive university-wide vision and central resources sufficient to unite schools and disciplines across the whole campus. The result has been consistent and substantial academic improvement.

In the same vein, the University is strongly committed to recruiting the most talented and diverse students. Admissions are among the most competitive in the nation, with more than 40,000 undergraduate applications annually; admission rates are under 10% and dropping with a 65% yield on accepted students. Nearly one-quarter of the class of 2022 are underrepresented minorities and one in seven are first in their families to attend college. The quality and diversity of the student body, like the faculty, improves steadily. Penn is committed to need-blind admission and to meeting the full demonstrated need of all eligible undergraduates and has implemented an entirely need-based, no loan/all-grant financial aid program for undergraduates. Financial aid commitments have grown by 161% over the last nine years, aided by very substantial fund raising dedicated to scholarship endowment. By the end of this decade, the President and her administration will have raised $1 billion for financial aid.

The development program is one of the very largest in the nation, and the University raised more than $4.3 billion in its Making History capital campaign, which concluded in 2012 having surpassed its $3.5 billion fundraising goal more than 15 months ahead of schedule, a testament to alumni pride in the trajectory of their university. In contrast to the experience of most institutions, Penn’s fundraising program has accelerated in the years following the Making History campaign with total annual commitments now exceeding $500 million and the commitment-to-receipt ratio among the very highest in the nation.

Total research funding has grown from under $700 million in FY2004 to nearly $930 million in FY2017. NIH funding is the second highest in the nation. Penn’s annual budget for 2018 is $8.7 (verify number) billion in expenditures, with roughly $3 billion in the academic expenditure budget and $5.7 billion in the health system. The University has an endowment of $12.3 billion and sustains one of the highest bond ratings in the American academy.

The Search

Inquiries, nominations and applications are invited.  Although the search will remain open until the position is filled, review of candidate materials will begin immediately. Candidates should provide a curriculum vitae, a letter of application that addresses the responsibilities and requirements described herein, and the names and contact information of five references.  References will not be contacted without prior knowledge and approval of the candidates. 

Materials should be sent electronically via e-mail to the university’s consultants, Park Square Executive Search, at Documents that must be mailed may be sent to Jonathan Fortescue, Ph.D., Managing Partner, Anne Coyle, Partner, or Kyle Meingast, Principal, Park Square Executive Search, LLC, 125 Summer Street, 18th Floor, Boston, MA 02110. Phone: 617-401-2991.

The University of Pennsylvania values diversity and seeks talented students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected class status in the administration of its admissions, financial aid, educational or athletic programs, or other University-administered programs or in its employment practices. Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to the Executive Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Suite 228, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106; or (215) 898-6993 (Voice).