The United Negro College Fund, Inc. — Senior Vice President, Research and Member Engagement

The United Negro College Fund, Inc. (UNCF), headquartered in Washington, DC, is the nation’s largest, most successful, and most comprehensive minority education assistance organization and has been an engine of minority educational achievement for more than 75 years. UNCF’s mission is to build a robust and nationally recognized pipeline of Black students who, because of UNCF support, become highly qualified college graduates. In addition, UNCF ensures that its member institutions remain respected models of best practices in moving students to and through college. Since its inception in 1944, UNCF has raised over $5 billion in private support, distributed more scholarships to help minorities attend school than any entity outside of the federal government, and enabled more than 500,000 minority and low-income students to graduate from UNCF’s member historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and launch professional careers. UNCF is committed to closing the educational attainment gap between African Americans and other populations by increasing postsecondary access and success for students from underrepresented groups, particularly low-income and first-generation students. 

The Senior Vice President, Research and Member Engagement (SVP) reports directly to the Office of the President, partnering with the President on strategic initiatives and member support services, and working closely with the Chief Operating Officer on matters of key operational priorities. As an active member of the senior leadership team, the SVP works primarily out of UNCF’s Headquarters in Washington, DC, and serves as the organization’s lead consultant working with UNCF members building institutional capacity, frequently interfaces with external entities including the media as a UNCF spokesperson, and serves as chief research officer and principal editor of research publications. The SVP provides dynamic vision, direction, and specific expertise in implementing strategies to develop and fund UNCF’s education, research, and technical assistance programs supporting the success of its 37 member institutions and their senior administrative officers, faculty, staff, and students. 

The SVP manages a portfolio that includes three primary UNCF initiatives: 1) The Institute for Capacity Building (ICB)—an expanding unit, providing general programming, professional development, institutionally specific technical assistance and grant support, and customized resources and tailored interventions to address short- and long-term needs of individual HBCU institutions; 2) Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI)—the nation’s foremost organization dedicated to the design, implementation, and dissemination of research that helps guide policymakers, educators, philanthropists, and the general public toward improving educational opportunities and outcomes for African Americans and other underrepresented minorities across the pre-school-through-college-graduation pipeline; and 3) an emergent Teaching and Learning Center focused on expanding resource capacity (including instructional pedagogy and faculty development) and the design and implementation of sustainable collaborations and shared learning platforms designed to increase educational resources and access not constrained by space or place for students of UNCF member institutions.

As the chief research officer, the SVP works collaboratively with UNCF Branding, Marketing & Communications and Public Policy and Government Affairs staff to enhance UNCF’s brand and prestige, inform federal policy directives for HBCUs, secure funding for FDPRI initiatives, identify emerging trends, and document student outcomes and impact of UNCF member institutions and other HBCUs. Additionally, the SVP collaborates with senior officers at member institutions and provides content expertise on scholarship, program evaluation, and grants administration, policy development, executive leadership, financial management, fundraising, enrollment and retention, academic programming, faculty development, and STEM minority access. Concierge-type support is extended by the SVP to member presidents navigating the accreditation process, including direct situational assessment with senior officers, coordinated campus consultations by UNCF executives, and appropriate interventions with Department of Education leaders on behalf of member institutions to facilitate communication and resolution of concerns. The SVP also works closely with UNCF’s Development Office and the Executive Director of ICB to structure alliances with national organizations and potential funders to create new educational, research, and technical assistance programs. The SVP manages an operating budget of $1.5 million (excluding grant-funded projects) and a staff of 20 ICB and FDPRI professionals, including four direct reports.

The successful candidate must hold a PhD and possess a successful track record in research, grant management, and program administration. A strategic skill set encompassing superior organizational, planning, and implementation ability is required. Familiarity with higher education administration, particularly within HBCU and/or PBI institutions, is preferred. A high degree of self-motivation and initiative; superior communication, public relations, and relationship-building skills demonstrating success in working collaboratively with many stakeholders and constituents of diverse backgrounds and expertise; facility to embrace ambiguity, to resolve problems, and to advance priorities within stated grant parameters; budget and personnel management acumen; and understanding of college student development and learning outcomes assessment are key qualifications. 

Additional capabilities and experience that will be important considerations in the selection of the next SVP include demonstrated understanding and appreciation for both curricular and co-curricular components that, when combined, amplify learning and success for college students; evidence of entrepreneurial leadership and change management abilities, coupled with a practical “roll-up-the-sleeves” approach and determination to advance critical initiatives and operations; a track record of success in establishing respected partnerships among senior higher education and academic affairs professionals, including members of the board of trustees, college presidents, provosts, and faculty, as well as other administrative staff; a broad understanding of national trends and best practices with regards to the integration of career preparation into the undergraduate experience; and a balanced skill set that combines visionary, analytical, tactical, relational, and fundraising abilities needed to support the continued success of high-impact programs, focused research, membership engagement, and teaching/learning initiatives that are core to the UNCF mission. 

Review of applications will begin March 1, 2021, and continue until the position is filled. A resume with an accompanying cover letter may be submitted via the Spelman Johnson website at www.spelmanjohnson.com/open-positions. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Valerie B. Szymkowicz at vbs@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the UNCF website at www.uncf.org

UNCF provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, or any characteristic protected by federal, state and local laws. UNCF complies with applicable state and local laws governing non-discrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including, but not limited to, hiring, placement, promotion and termination.

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