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Director for Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability (NICCS)

Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois
Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience and qualifications.
Closing date
Apr 16, 2023

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Northern Illinois University (NIU) seeks an inaugural Director for the newly established Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability (NICCS). The Director will provide visionary leadership for the NICCS mission. The promotion and creation of research and innovation are high priorities for the position. If qualified and desired, the candidate will be eligible for tenure in an appropriate department. Accordingly, the candidate may wish to pursue independent research.

The mission of NICCS is to address the challenges of environmental change, shifting demographics and sociopolitical inequity that are impacting our region and the world. To accomplish this, NICCS will connect research and innovation to advance sustainability in food systems, water resources and environmental adaptation while also promoting science-based policies and practices for communities. NICCS is a hub of the Illinois Innovation Network which is a collaborative effort of the state public universities to drive innovation and economic growth throughout the state.

NICCS is in the early design phases and scheduled for a construction start in 2024. State funding has already been released for the $23M, 30,000 square foot facility located on the NIU West Campus. The facility will have classrooms, research laboratories, and collaborative spaces. The Director will assume leadership of an existing robust research program that will provide momentum for launching of the NICCS program at the new facility. More information on the status and burgeoning NICCS program can be found at . The successful candidate will have a rare opportunity to build a new facility and create a leading research and innovation program in community sustainability.

The Director provides visionary leadership for NICCS mission to address the challenges of environmental change, shifting demographics, and sociopolitical inequity impacting the region and the world.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Development and Operations of NICCS:

  • Initially, the Director will lead the NICCS facilities design, strategic planning, and organizational development. Thereafter, the Director will have operational oversight for hiring and supervising of staff along with developing and overseeing yearly budgets;
  • Ensures that NICCS operations and facilities model best practices in sustainability;
  • Responsible for being the primary advocate for NICCS and in this capacity will identify sponsors and external funding opportunities to ensure NICCS becomes financially independent.

Promotion of Research and Innovation:

  • Facilitates faculty research and development of policies that supports sustainable communities;
  • Facilitates international research and scholarship that brings visibility to NIU and Illinois through critical research areas with global implications including water resources, environmental adaptation, and food systems innovation;
  • Supports development of instructional and experiential opportunities for students.

Partnerships and Engagement:

  • Works in a highly collaborative manner with faculty members, multiple university divisions, regional leaders, and other stakeholders.
  • Advances the mission and vision of NICCS by cultivating mutually beneficial research and innovation partnerships with the public and private sector.
  • Ensures that NICCS is well integrated into the Illinois Innovation Network and The Edge, NIU’s west campus development initiative.

Strategy Development and Implementation:

  • Working with the Vice President of the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships (RIPs) and leadership from other university divisions, the Director will develop short-range and long-range strategic plans for external partnerships in support of research and innovation.
  • The Director will identify and create opportunities to engage regional communities by identifying mutually beneficial areas of research and engagement, as well as translating scientific and policy developments generated by NICCS.
  • Working with university and community leaders, the Director will identify opportunities to align NICCS activities with regional plans and aspirations to attract sustainable businesses and support existing businesses in improving their environmental sustainability.

Minimum/Basic Required Qualifications

  • Ph.D. or terminal degree in business management, public administration, science, or engineering or a related field
  • USA citizenship or a legal permanent resident of the USA
  • Minimum of five years of experience and a proven track record driving research and innovation in a corporate, consulting, or academic environment

Additional Requirements

  • Business acumen, negotiation skills and demonstrated success in large-scale collaborations
  • Understanding of sustainability, sustainability research, sustainability management, and sustainable development
  • Excellent verbal and written communication; strong analytical, organizational, and interpersonal skills; excellent presentation skills; independent judgment
  • Knowledge of academic research and innovation methods Ability to work effectively with a broad range of constituents including faculty, staff, attorneys, sponsors, community members, and industry representatives Success developing intra- and inter-institutional partnerships.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Significant research experience in sustainability, water resources, environmental adaptation, or food systems.
  • Technology commercialization experience such as an entrepreneurial leadership role in a startup or small business and experience establishing successful relationships with venture capitalists, angel investors, and entrepreneurs
  • Strong project management, organizational, and leadership skills with the ability to handle multiple, complex tasks and projects concurrently
  • Supervision of professional staff
  • Experience in public higher education administration
  • Demonstrated collaboration with faculty, graduate students, and administrators to advance a culture of research and innovation
  • Success in facilitating interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research
  • Success in securing external funding at the national, state, and/or local level

For full consideration, please visit and submit the following materials by April 2, 2023:

  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Cover Letter
  • Two-page vision statement describing how you would develop and position NICCS to be a leader in sustainability research and innovation for the Northern Illinois region and similar peri-urban locations
  • List of three professional references

Applications received after April 2 are welcomed but will be considered as needed. Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience and qualifications.

In accordance with applicable statutes and regulations, NIU is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion, age, physical and mental disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, political affiliation, or any other factor unrelated to professional qualifications, and will comply with all applicable federal and state statutes, regulations and orders pertaining to nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action.

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