Director for Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability

Director for Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability

Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University (NIU) is transforming sustainability in higher education and is moving forward in the development of the Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability (NICCS) to address the challenges of environmental change, shifting demographics and sociopolitical inequity impacting our region and the world.  To accomplish this, NICCS connects 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. We seek a director who can help us advance this substantial new university-wide initiative.

The promotion, creation and application of research and innovation are high priorities for NICCS.  The Director will facilitate faculty research that supports sustainable communities and promote development of policies for sustainable communities.   The Director will facilitate local, regional, and international research and scholarship and help build transdisciplinary research teams that bring visibility to NIU and Illinois through critical research areas with global implications.  The Director will also encourage the combination of cutting-edge research with policy development to help community leaders plan for change and address community issues and engage the public to create awareness and inspire action.  The Director will provide leadership in the regional innovation ecosystem through research and engagement and collaborate on development of instructional and experiential opportunities to support student success.  Finally, the Director will serve as primary spokesperson and advocate for NICCS including development of sponsors and external funding opportunities. 

Position Summary

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. They will work with faculty to facilitate and support their academic and instructional programs and liaise with other Divisions to strategically develop partnerships and programs consistent with the mission of NICCS. The Director will report to the Vice President of RIPS and work with RIPS staff to advance the research and innovation strategic goals of the University. The number and functions of direct reports will be determined by the Director and the VP of RIPS as the organization develops and matures.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Facilitation of Research, Innovation, and Scholarship

  • Facilitate faculty research and development of policies that supports sustainable communities.
  • Facilitate 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.
  • Support development of instructional and experiential opportunities for

Strategy Development and Implementation

  • Develop short-range and long-range strategic plans for external partnerships in support of research and innovation, all while working with the Vice President of the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships (RIPs) and leadership from other university divisions.
  • 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.
  • Identify opportunities to align NICCS activities with regional plans and aspirations to attract sustainable businesses and support existing businesses in improving their environmental sustainability, all while working with university and community leaders.

Community Engagement and External Partnerships

  • Work with a range of stakeholders to fulfill the mission and vision of NICCS by cultivating mutually beneficial research and innovation partnerships with the public and private sectors.
  • Advance the mission and vision of NICCS by cultivating mutually beneficial research and innovation partnerships with the public and private sector.
  • Ensure visibility, alignment and integration of NICCS with the Illinois Innovation Network.

Development and Operation of NICCS

  • Lead the NICCS facilities design, strategic planning, and organizational
  • Possess operational oversight for hiring and supervising of staff along with developing and overseeing yearly budgets.
  • Ensure that NICCS operations and facilities model best practices in
  • Serve as the primary advocate for NICCS and will identify sponsors and external funding opportunities to ensure NICCS becomes financially

Professional Development

  • The individual hired may choose to be aligned with a Department and/or a Center. As such, tenure may be granted if appropriate.
  • Stay current with developing information in the field.


Perform Other Related Duties as Assigned


Minimum Required Qualifications

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in business, public administration, science, or engineering or a related field
  • Minimum of five years of experience and proven track record driving of research and innovation in a well-regarded corporate, community, or academic environment
  • Experience with fundraising


Additional Requirements (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities)

  • Deep 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.
  • Business acumen, negotiation skills and demonstrated success in large-scale collaborations
  • Knowledge of academic research and innovation methods
  • Ability to work effectively and manage large-scale collaborations with a broad range of constituents including faculty, staff, attorneys, sponsors, community members, and industry representatives.
  • Strong project management, organizational, and leadership skills with the ability to handle multiple, complex tasks and projects concurrently
  • Success developing intra- and inter-institutional partnerships.


Preferred Qualifications

  • D. in business, science, or engineering or a related field.
  • 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.
  • 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.



  • Commensurate with experience and qualifications. NIU offers a robust benefits package.


Application Procedure

For full consideration, prospective applicants will need to visit to create an application profile or log in to an existing one to apply, and submit the following application materials by March 17, 2024:

  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Cover Letter stating interesting and experience in sustainability and innovation
  • List of three professional references

Applications received after March 17 are welcomed, but will be considered as needed.

Completion of a successful background check is required upon hire.

 AA/EEO Statement

Northern Illinois University (NIU) is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive academic global community; as an AA/EEO employer, NIU considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, protected veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected status.






Read more / apply
  • Application deadline: Mar 17, 2024
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships
  • Dekalb, IL, United States
  • Academic Positions
Read more / apply Back to list
On the job market

Some industrial ecology candidates that are on the job market...

All candidates