California Polytechnic State University — Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), a distinguished public undergraduate and Master’s level institution located in San Luis Obispo, California, seeks an innovative and collaborative research leader to serve as the Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education (VP R-EDGE). 

The VP R-EDGE is responsible for university-wide advocacy for research, scholarship, and creative activity and promotes the value of a diverse range of scholarly and applied research activities and industry relationships for faculty, staff, and students. The VP reports to the Executive Vice President/Provost with a dotted line to the President and works in close partnership with University Development and other administrators, including, but not limited to, the Director of the Cal Poly Corporation, the academic deans, and the dean of Graduate Education. 

Core to the mission of the R-EDGE enterprise is a focus on delivering a “Learn by Doing” scholarly experience for students and supporting professional growth for faculty. Cal Poly provides extensive undergraduate and graduate (master’s level) research, scholarship, and creative activity programs in addition to extensive applied research programs. The VP proactively fosters an environment in which the research, scholarly, and creative accomplishments of faculty and students are encouraged and rewarded, seeks to identify and create opportunities for financial support of these activities, advocates for Cal Poly’s research, scholarship and creative activities both on campus and at the local, state and national levels, and promotes the reputation of Cal Poly’s research, scholarship, and creative activities locally, nationally, and internationally.

Required education and experience

  • An earned doctorate or equivalent terminal degree and/or demonstrated exceptional scholarly/artistic achievement. 
  • Ten years of progressively responsible experience managing complex research programs in higher education or industry, including five years of demonstrated success in upper-level management.

Required skills, knowledge, and abilities

  • An understanding of the diverse forms of research, scholarship, and creative activity conducted at a comprehensive polytechnic university, and an informed perspective about federally sponsored programs, intellectual property, technology transfer, compliance and commercialization in the university environment. 
  • A working knowledge of Intellectual Property that includes the nuances of higher education as well as the expectations of industry partners. 
  • Demonstrated knowledge of excellent interpersonal and leadership skills, including the ability to motivate and influence individuals at all levels and negotiate agreements and partnerships.
  • Demonstrated leadership and management experience to integrate the academic and administrative activities in research, scholarship, and creative activity. 
  • Demonstrated ability to be a strong advocate for the value of student research, scholarship and creative activity. 
  • Leadership experience in research and grants administration, and the development of cross-disciplinary research ventures in a university setting.
  • Working knowledge of the interpretation and management of complex agreements and authorship of successful extramural research initiatives. 
  • Strong oral, written, problem solving and decision-making skills.
  • A commitment to inclusiveness, transparency and consensus building; willingness to collaborate and communicate effectively with multiple university constituencies, including other research leaders within the California State University system.
  • Proven experience in supporting colleges in recruiting, developing, and retaining faculty associates and professional staff with respect to research, scholarship and creative activity.
  • Significant knowledge in compliance, specifically research, export control, and environmental health and safety regulations.
  • Demonstrated experience working productively with external constituencies, such as governing and coordinating boards, legislative bodies, public agencies, funding agencies, community members and local and regional industry.
  • A record of working successfully with diverse students, staff, faculty, campus population and external collaborators; demonstrated commitment to diversity in hiring. 
  • An understanding of and commitment to shared governance.

Preferred skills and experience

  • A Ph.D. or terminal degree.
  • Track record of success in obtaining external research funding and administering research programs that support faculty, graduate student and undergraduate student research, scholarship and creative activity.
  • Working knowledge of the variety of sponsor requirements that can impact the review, approval and acceptance of grants and contracts.

Cal Poly has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this search. The search committee will review nominations and applications until the position is filled. However, to ensure full consideration, applicants are encouraged to submit materials by March 21, 2022. The anticipated starting date for the position is July 1, 2022. Nominations and inquiries should be made to Brett Barbour and David Bellshaw of Isaacson Miller (see contact information below). 

To apply, visit to complete the required online Cal Poly Application ( In addition, each applicant must provide as separate attachments to the online application a detailed curriculum vitae or resume, a cover letter, and a Diversity Statement. The cover letter should address the applicant’s qualifications and experience for this position, including a personal statement of the applicant’s views on academic administration, experiences with and views on leadership, and their management style. 

Inquiries, nominations, and referrals may be sent via the Isaacson, Miller website for the search:

Brett Barbour and David Bellshaw
Isaacson, Miller
1000 Sansome Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA  94111
Phone: 415.655.4900

At California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, we believe that cultivating an environment that embraces and promotes diversity is fundamental to the success of our students, our employees and our community. Bringing people together from different backgrounds, experiences and value systems fosters the innovative and creative thinking that exemplifies Cal Poly’s values of free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.

Cal Poly’s commitment to diversity informs our efforts in recruitment, hiring and retention. California Polytechnic State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.