Director of Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum
The University of Kansas seeks outstanding applicants for the position of director of its Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum. The director sets the strategic direction for the BI with regard to research, education and outreach and holds a 20% joint appointment as a tenured faculty member in an appropriate academic department. The director has unique opportunities to develop a personal research program synergistically within the BI and collaboratively with a large and diverse KU research community.
This is an endowed directorship. Funds from the endowment provide the director with additional resources to advance the BI’s mission. The formal name of the directorship will be announced in 2021.
Finalists and Public Presentations
Each candidate will deliver a virtual public presentation and take questions. Candidate names and CVs will be posted here about 48 hours before each visit. All BI/NHM stakeholders are invited to attend and share feedback following the presentations. Presentation schedule:
Thursday, Nov. 5 – Friday, Nov. 6
Thursday, Nov. 12 – Friday, Nov. 13
Wednesday, Nov. 18 – Thursday, Nov. 19
The search committee is chaired by Sara Baer, director of the Kansas Biological Survey and professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Other members include:
- Folashade Agusto, assistant professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
- Brian Atkinson, curator, Paleobotany and assistant professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
- Andy Bentley, collection manager, Ichthyology
- Kirsten Jensen, senior curator, Invertebrate Zoology and professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
- Jaime Keeler, business coordinator
- Teresa MacDonald, associate director, public programs
- A. Townsend Peterson, University Distinguished Professor, EEB, and senior curator, Ornithology
- Tom Rudkin, advisory board member
- Jorge Soberón, University Distinguished Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and senior scientist, Biodiversity Modeling
About the BI/NHM
The KU Biodiversity Institute is an internationally recognized center for research and graduate education in systematics, evolutionary biology, paleontology and archaeology. In addition to the collection and curation of recent and fossil animals and plants, the BI is a world leader in the field of biodiversity informatics, including the development of global data architectures and platforms for the processing and research analysis of species data.
The KU Natural History Museum is the iconic public face of the BI and serves public audiences including K-12 schools, families and adults, the university, and the informal science education community. The Natural History Museum shares, interprets and educates diverse audiences about the natural world through engaging and innovative exhibits, programming and projects.
The ideal candidate will contribute to the collective goals of the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum:
- To maintain and improve collections to meet the research, educational and service needs of scientists, students, the public and agencies of the public.
- To enhance research and graduate education programs so they represent the breadth, scientific rigor and promise of systematic and evolutionary biology and archaeology.
- To increase participation in the relevant academic programs of the university, principally within the departments of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Geology, and Anthropology, and the Museum Studies Program.
- To continue developing public education and related services in ways that encourage public understanding and appreciation of the natural world.
- To increase understanding and support of the museum through public relations, membership, development programs and the activities of the Biodiversity Institute Advisory Board.
The Biodiversity Institute consists of the divisions of Archaeology, Biodiversity Modeling, Botany (McGregor Herbarium), Entomology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Informatics, Invertebrate Paleontology, Invertebrate Zoology, Mammalogy, Ornithology, Paleobotany and Vertebrate Paleontology. These divisions collaborate with the departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geology, and Anthropology, and the Museum Studies Program in research, education and public service programs. The Biodiversity Institute employs 20 (11.5 FTE) curators and research scientists, many of whom are on joint appointments in related academic departments, along with 19 adjunct, courtesy and emeritus faculty. They collectively provide a rich intellectual resource for the museum’s 4 postdoctoral staff, 44 graduate students and 50 undergraduate students.
The Biodiversity Institute also employs 10 professional collection care and support staff (9.75 FTE); 6 public programs staff (6.0 FTE); and 5 administrative staff (5.0 FTE).
Administrative duties (40%)
The director provides leadership in strategic planning and organizational structure while facilitating and executing the mission of the BI. Administrative duties include preparing and evaluating the budget; managing and distributing annual operating funds, endowment income and other funds beyond state allocations; preparing annual reports, mission statements and other documents requested by the Vice Chancellor for Research; recruting and retaining top talent; and conducting performance evaluations of academic and unclassified professional staff, ensuring a community of collegiality and excellence. The director fosters the professional development of collections care; coordinates activities among divisions, presides over meetings of the advisory board; and represents the BI to the university and systematics communities, external agencies, and the public.
Research and education (20%)
The director facilitates the education and research mission of the BI and promotes an open, diverse and inclusive learning and working environment that nurtures the growth and development of students, staff, affiliates and visitors. The director fosters the intellectual growth and development of graduate and undergraduate students associated with the BI, cooperates with degree-grant-ing departments and enhances support of students. The director may sponsor graduate students and serve on graduate student committees.
The director furthers the development of the BI as an international center for collections-based research, knowledge dissemination, and information technology by encouraging and advocating for high-quality research in systematic biology and related fields, and obtains a broad understanding of the role of the BI in the university community and natural sciences. The position is expected to assess priorities of current research and the directions of future research for the unit. The director promotes the free interchange of ideas and provides intellectual leadership to the BI community and promotes appropriate use of the BI’s resources and information by governmental and private agencies. The director is encouraged to maintain an independent program of research and scholarly productivity.
Exhibits and public programs (10%)
The director supports the museum’s education, outreach, and exhibit programs. The director furthers the contribution of the KU Natural History Museum to the education and service missions of the BI and the broader university, as well as to the field of informal science education. The director advocates on behalf of the museum at the university, state and regional levels and promotes collaboration with other KU entities and external organizations.
Collections development and stewardship (10%)
The director encourages the advancement of state-of-the-art practices in the care of the BI’s collections to ensure the collections and their associated data are valued for research, education and service. The director promotes the visibility, engagement and awareness of the value of the BI’s collections to campus, state and international stakeholders. The director advances short- and long-term strategies for collections storage, access and curation. The director promotes responsible collection growth and cultivates BI collections leadership in international cyberinfrastructures.
The director provides strong leadership and active engagement in strengthening the financial resources available, and in building a broad base of support for the BI and KU Natural History Museum within and outside the university. The director should be an effective advocate for the BI to the university administration, KU Endowment, KU Alumni and outside the university. The director should aggressively pursue external funding from federal, state and local government, community and foundation-based sources. The director should encourage maximum use of the resources of the BI Advisory Board and membership, and encourage an innovative, entrepreneurial approach in marketing the museum to the public.
Faculty responsibilities (0.2 FTE)
The director serves as a tenured, full professor in the appropriate academic unit with a 20% appointment. Tenured faculty members are expected to meet satisfactory standards of performance in three areas of responsibility — teaching/advising, research and service — and to carry out those responsibilities in accordance with the Faculty Code of Rights, Responsibilities & Conduct. In a given year, contributions to teaching/advising, research and service may be balanced, or added emphasis may be placed on one or more components.
Evaluation of the following requirements will be made through (1) description of work experience and educational experiences in CV and (2) record of accomplishments and productivity addressed in CV:
- Doctorate degree from an accredited college or university and eligibility for tenured appointment at the rank of full professor in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology or a related academic department.
- Experience serving as an academic leader and team builder, developing and enhancing research and educational relationships among faculty, staff, alumni and affiliated units/partners.
- Demonstrated teaching experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and a commitment to teaching excellence.
- Demonstrated record of scholarly achievement in a field related to biodiversity, as demonstrated by refereed publications and/or research grants with the promise of continued activity.
- Demonstrated experience in the administration of an organization, including the management oversight of finances, personnel and program development.
- Evidence of obtaining financial support through competition for public or private sources.
- Excellent communication skills as demonstrated through application materials and interviews.
- Experience working with multidisciplinary constituencies.
- Record of promoting diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion.
- At least five years administrative experience, including budgeting, personnel management and program development.
- Demonstrated vision for the future of collections-based research and the role of museums.
- Demonstrated knowledge of museum operations, including collection management, public education, exhibits, and research.
- Demonstrated professional association with the national and international museum community as evidenced by a record of service in a museum or through museum activities of an appropriate professional organization.
- Experience in graduate or undergraduate mentoring in a scientific discipline or museum studies program.
- Administrative experience in a comprehensive doctoral degree-granting university, university museum, or other natural history museum.
- Administrative-level knowledge of subdisciplines of biodiversity informatics and the international biological museum data community.
- Record of entrepreneurial leadership.
Terms of appointment
The director serves at the pleasure of the Vice Chancellor for Research. For day-to-day operations, the director reports to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research. The director holds a tenured joint appointment with the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum (0.8 FTE) and an appropriate academic department (0.2 FTE).
The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities.