Position Description

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) announces the national search for Vice Provost for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development. Located in a prosperous hub of commerce with a metro population of 1+ million, UALR is a core partner in the state’s strategic priority to aggressively expand its research-focused knowledge economy. The successful candidate in this national search will help drive UALR’s research culture as Arkansas pursues one of the most exciting and ambitious statewide economic development initiatives in the United States.

With an annual budget of $165 million and enrollment of more than 12,000, UALR (http://ualr.edu) is among the most accessible and student-centered campuses in the University of Arkansas System, which includes five four-year institutions, five two-year schools, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Schools and colleges at UALR include: College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences; College of Business; College of Education and Health Professions; Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT); College of Social Sciences and Communications; the Graduate School; and the William H. Bowen School of Law. In keeping with its historic urban mission, the Little Rock campus has a diverse student body, an impressive record of successful student outcomes, and stature as an emerging leader in technology transfer.

UALR’s research profile has seen critical development in the last decade, generating almost $30 million in 2013 in competitive extramural awards from Federal, state and private sources. The campus is known for excellent engineering and information technology programs and research strengths that include advanced materials, nanomaterials, bioinformatics, robotics, information quality, and data science. In addition to strong department-based research projects, UALR is home to a number of unique centers that provide invaluable support for the university and the region. The Center for Integrated Nanotechnology Sciences (CINS) is a dynamic business incubator; the Emerging Analytics Center features a full-scale facility for simulation, modeling, and analysis of big data; the UALR Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) assists entrepreneurs at every stage of business development and growth; and MidSOUTH, the community service unit of the UALR School of Social Work, provides leadership, training, and product support in the areas of addiction, child welfare, technology, distance learning, and organizational development.

The university’s technology transfer office, UALR TechLaunch, oversees patenting and licensing and assists faculty and departments in their pursuit of successful commercialization. A leader in wide- ranging economic development collaborations with the Arkansas business community, TechLaunch links UALR with high-profile partners such as the Arkansas Venture Center, the ARK Challenge, Innovate Arkansas, the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, and the Arkansas Private Equity Roundtable. This fall TechLaunch will introduce a multi-disciplinary 18-hour undergraduate certificate program in partnership with the business community to help students design, test, and launch mobile apps and responsive websites.

The university has joined with UAMS and the City of Little Rock to develop the Little Rock Technology Park, which is funded in part by a voter-approved tax that will provide $22 million for the project. When completed, the facilities and infrastructure will be a platform for launching technology-based startup companies formed around university research.

Economic benchmarks in Arkansas are excellent. Per capita income has grown faster than national per capita income for the last several years; unemployment is below the national average; and the state has made a substantial investment in job-creating research. Among key goals of Governor Mike Beebe’s statewide economic development plan is to increase per capita university research funding. As an EPSCoR state, Arkansas supports the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority (www.asta.arkansas.gov), which is focused on advancing the talent and innovation necessary for the state to prosper.

The Arkansas Research Alliance (www.aralliance.org) is a driving force for breakthroughs in research, commercialization, and job creation. Comprised of top echelon state leaders in industry and higher education, the Alliance’s board has an impressive record in securing critical operational funds. The highly successful Arkansas Research Alliance Scholars program provides direct support for university researchers who are positioned to create new opportunities for innovation.

Candidate Attributes

The Search Advisory Committee seeks an experienced, visionary, and entrepreneurial leader with a substantial record of achievement and the ability to spearhead a research, innovation, and economic development plan for UALR in keeping with the university’s vision and the state’s priorities.

Academic qualifications commensurate with appointment as a tenured faculty member are preferred; candidates with a competitive balance of academic and prior business experience will also be considered. Other desired qualifications include:

  • Demonstrated success in technology transfer, commercialization, intellectual property protection, licensing, start-up company formation, and new business development;
  • Consensus-building leadership style and the ability to effectively articulate an ambitious vision for the university’s growing role in research and job creation;
  • Documented record of funded research and significant personal research accomplishments;
  • Broad understanding of industry and investment community trends, and access to resources for venture capital, angel investors, and other funding mechanisms;
  • Experience in directing interdisciplinary research and the ability to advocate for UALR’s research agenda with industry, state, and federal entities, and the community at large;
  • Understanding of the nature of applied research and its role in community engagement;
  • Ability to foster research collaborations and dynamic interaction among UALR’s academic units and with business, industry, and government agencies as well as other universities.

Opportunities and Challenges

The Vice Provost for Research, Innovation and Economic Development will be charged with enhancing and refining the research climate at UALR and working collaboratively with faculty and staff on a comprehensive plan to substantially grow the size and strength of the research enterprise. Other opportunities include:

  • Identify areas of emphasis to focus and continually streamline UALR’s research agenda in anticipation of emerging local, regional and national needs;
  • Work with the Provost to develop packages to successfully recruit and retain top-flight research faculty;
  • Devise strategies to give faculty, students and staff the necessary resources for success in their research endeavors;
  • Develop strong working partnerships with the Arkansas business community and state officials;
  • Build on UALR’s growing base of productive relationships with Federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Education, Small Business Administration, and others.

Search Timeline

The Search Committee will accept applications and nominations until the on-campus interview stage. For best consideration, materials should be received before April 30, 2014.

Applications should include a detailed letter of interest describing relevant leadership, research and teaching experience and interest in the position; curriculum vitae; names of five references with titles, addresses, and telephone numbers. Individuals who wish to nominate a candidate should submit a letter of nomination, including name, position, address, telephone number, and email address of the nominee.

Materials should be electronically submitted via MS Word or pdf to VPRIED@academic- search.com. The search is assisted by John B. Hicks, Senior Consultant Academic Search, Inc. John.hicks@academic-search.com 205-345-7221