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Executive Director, Office of External Partnerships at Duke University


Duke University seeks a dynamic, creative, collaborative, and enterprising Executive Director to lead its new Office for External Partnerships (OEP), a component of the Office of Research & Innovation. OEP was formed to foster broader and deeper engagement between Duke researchers and industry partners as well as other universities, government groups, and foundations. Reporting to the University’s Vice President for Research & Innovation, the Executive Director will work with faculty, Schools, Centers, and Institutes to engage proactively with external partners in order to expand opportunities for Duke research to change the world.

Across its 10 schools and the Duke University Health System, Duke researchers advance knowledge in every conceivable discipline. Duke ranks 10th in research and development funding as reported by the NSF Science and Engineering Research Indicators. In FY 2020, $1.2B – roughly 40% of its $3B in revenue – came through grants and contracts from government and private sources, with some $750M from government and $450M from private sources.

In this highly visible new leadership role, the Executive Director serves as Duke’s senior authorized representative for outreach to third parties wishing to develop partnerships with Duke, and acts as OEP’s lead representative for coordination of University-wide development and stewardship of these partnerships. The Executive Director identifies and aggregates opportunities for both outbound and inbound collaborations – connecting researchers with external partners and helping external partners identify researchers best prepared to advance their research and development objectives.

To create this new value at Duke, OEP will work effectively with several other offices across the University including: Duke’s Office of Translation & Commercialization, Duke Clinical Research Institute, the Office of University Development, and Duke’s Career Center. The Executive Director will work with the Vice President for Research & Innovation and other University leaders to refine the metrics and identify further investments in External Partnership resources to significantly enhance its impact.

The Executive Director will bring 10 or more years of experience in developing partnerships with a variety of entities including companies, academic centers, and government institutions. Experience developing research partnerships between industry and academic institutions is highly desirable. A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree such as MBA, Ph.D., or M.D. is preferred. Candidates will possess a record of commitment to and measurable engagement with integrity, diversity, equity, and inclusion in research.

How to apply

Opus Partners is assisting Duke University with this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited. Interested candidates should submit in electronic form (Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF files preferred) a CV or resume and a letter of interest to Jeffrey Stafford, Senior Associate at Opus Partners: