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  • Vice President of Collections and Research

    Jason Weckstein
    • Employer: Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
      Location: Center City - Philadelphia, PA
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 04/30/2022
      Open Until Filled: No

    Vice President of Collections and Research

    Link for online application:


    Apply now Job no: 498021
    Work type: Full-Time
    Location: Center City - Philadelphia, PA
    Categories: Academy of Natural Sciences

    About Drexel

    Drexel is one of Philadelphia's top 10 private employers, a comprehensive global research university and a major engine for economic development in the region. With over 24,000 students, Drexel is one of America's 15 largest private universities. Drexel has committed to being the nation’s most civically engaged university, with community partnerships integrated into every aspect of service and academics.

    About the Academy

    The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia was founded in 1812 for "the encouragement and cultivation of the sciences." Since then, it has sponsored expeditions, conducted seminal systematics research, and established a peerless natural history library and archive. Among the 19+ million specimens in its world-class collections are shells gathered by Sir Ernest Shackleton, fishes hooked by Ernest Hemingway, birds caught by John James Audubon, and plants picked by Meriwether Lewis. It has offered public education for more than two centuries; been home to America’s greatest naturalists; debuted the world’s first articulated dinosaur; created one of the country’s earliest environmental consulting units; and transformed global understanding of freshwater ecology. In short, the Academy has been a pioneer of earth and environmental sciences for almost as long as the United States has existed.

    In 2011, the Academy’s storied mission was supercharged through its affiliation with Drexel University. Drexel invested in the Academy’s science enterprise, and in return the two institutions created the Department of Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences (BEES). Today the Academy’s Center for Systematic Biology and Evolution (CSBE) advances global understanding of biodiversity through collections-based teaching and research, while the Patrick Center for Environmental Research (PCER) is devoted to understanding, protecting, and restoring the health of watersheds. In partnership with our scientists, the Academy’s team of educators devise and deliver innovative research and nationally recognized programs that build STEAM literacy, especially among disadvantaged communities.

    As the Academy enters its third century it does so as an irreplaceable repository of biological specimens, a powerful driver of vital new knowledge, and a committed agent of societal change. It does so as an institution that can trace its impact from the tributaries of the Delaware River to the icefields of the Antarctic. And it does so with an engrained appetite for impact, a demonstrable commitment to social justice, and the potential to do even more for our region’s communities and our threatened planet.

    Job Summary

    The Vice President of Collections and Research (the VP) is a new position that has been created to provide support to, management of, and leadership for staff who steward and research the Academy’s remarkable specimen collections, books, archives, and artifacts.

    The VP’s main deliverable is to make the Academy’s unrivalled collections and knowledge more accessible to, useful for, and integrated with a global network of scientists and conservationists by (a) securing increased funding for collections management (especially in support of the extended specimen concept), research, data management, and computation; (b) widening digital and physical access to and engagement with collections among researchers, students, educators, and the community scientists; (c) advancing a common purpose with nature conservation by devising and implementing a collections strategy and research initiatives in support of extrinsic environmental challenges; and (d) leading, managing, and supporting staff and faculty so that they can work more effectively, efficiently and enjoyably within an institution they care deeply about.

    The VP must consistently provide collaborative leadership capable of shaping and delivering the Academy’s strategic and annual plans while ensuring the sustained growth and improved wellbeing of staff.  The VP must also establish and maintain a productive working relationship with the Chair of BEES, where most curators hold tenure-track joint appointments. To ensure optimal operation of the Academy’s taxonomic and systematic research enterprise, Curators and Collections Managers will work with the VP to provide clarity of management and maintain the strong link between Collection Managers and Faculty-Curators.  

    Essential Functions

    Institutional Responsibilities

    Ensure exemplary stewardship of the Academy’s collections representing the best interests of the collections at all times

    Continuously model and advance the Academy’s values - that science matters; advocacy is essential; inclusion, diversity, equity, and access are fundamental; innovation sustains success; and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts

    Model collaborative leadership with staff and transparent collegial relationships with peers

    Inform and implement the Academy’s strategic and annual plans and ensure divisional alignment and accountability is maintained through regular divisional meetings, monthly one-to-one meetings, SMART goal setting, and annual performance reviews undertaken in collaboration with faculty-curators where secondary reporting lines exist

    Closely coordinate with and support the work of the BEES Chair to ensure that synergies between the Academy and Drexel are fully realized and the relationship between the two institutions is continuously strengthened

    Closely coordinate with and support the work of the Executive Director of the Library and Archives to ensure that synergies between the Academy and Drexel are fully realized and the relationship between the two institutions is continuously strengthened

    Closely coordinate with and support the work of PCER to ensure that synergies are fully realized

    Closely coordinate with and support the work of the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program to ensure that synergies are fully realized

    Partner with the Institutional Advancement, Finance and Operations Divisions to secure sponsored and contributed revenues that sustain and grow the division

    Partner with the Experience and Engagement, Community Learning, and Marketing Divisions to conceptualize and deliver the Academy’s exhibition and public programs

    Partner with Drexel’s HR and Talent Acquisition departments to oversee divisional recruitment ensuring adherence to the Academy’s IDEAL recruitment policies, delivering its deep commitment to building a diverse workforce, and building an institutional culture aligned around the Academy’s values

    Partner with the Finance and Operations team to ensure new staff are effectively onboarded and aligned with extant organizational development work and IDEAL training


    Promote a divisional culture that models Academy values, supports vulnerability, ensures accountability, encourages professional growth, and nurtures a ‘bias for action’

    Establish and maintain transparent and collaborative relationships with peers in ways that further reinforce collegiality, trust, and mutual support within the Academy’s leadership team

    Build and maintain key relationships regionally, nationally, and internationally that benefit the Academy’s reputation and promote international recognition of Academy faculty, staff, students, and research. This includes participation in international conferences and committees


    Deliver the strategic and annual plans through the effective delivery of relevant projects in accordance with project management processes

    Provide clear, evidence-based, and two-way performance reviews and annual appraisals that promote institutional values, recognize success, and ensure accountability while working in full collaboration with faculty-curators where secondary reporting lines exist

    Ensure the consistent implementation and routine review of the Collections Policy and devise and deliver a Collections Strategy as appropriate

    Supervise production of the Academy’s academic publishing program – in particular the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia

    Record, monitor, and manage relevant performance indicators

    Lead the Academy’s decennial AAM Accreditation process

    Manage holidays, illness, and other issues arising; recruit and induct new staff; and ensure all staff are provided with appropriate professional development

    Provide regular project status updates to the Leadership Team


    Ensure comprehensive stewardship of all collections including the effective establishment and monitoring of benchmarks, and the provision of efficient storage, appropriate risk management, and adequate insurance

    Ensure effective and efficient collections documentation and tracking

    Ensure that collections managers:

    Provide effective and efficient access to stored collections for faculty, staff, and researchers

    Undertake all work in accordance with health and safety standards

    Respond to inquiries in ways that are timely, proportionate, and efficient

    Ensure that all collections care equipment is managed and maintained to the required standards, with staff receiving the appropriate levels of training to use such equipment

    Ensure all loans comply with the Collections Policy and associated processes and procedures

    Support the development of exhibitions, displays and major development projects in relation to collections care

    Support the collections acquisition process by:

    Ensuring rigorous adherence to Collections Policy and Strategy

    Supporting the Institutional Advancement Division in securing funding for acquisitions as required

    Develop and enhance the Academy’s collection management systems for use in research, education, and development

    Maintain a thorough understanding of national and international standards of collections management and conservation


    Support the development of sponsored research projects through the considered resourcing and implementation of individual work plans

    Collaborate with the Executive Director of The Environmental Collaboratory to identify and manage interdisciplinary research projects with Drexel and other university faculty and students

    Collaborate with the Marketing and Institutional Advancement divisions to promote and share the Academy’s research with appropriate audiences through diverse channels

    Establish and maintain an accessible database of Academy-related research activities to support a shared institutional understanding of current activities.

    Learning and Engagement

    Contribute to the development and delivery of exhibitions and public programs, and coordinate contributions from divisional staff in ways that are fair, equitable, and sustainable

    Ensure timely contributions of required resources from divisional staff

    Collaborate with the Marketing Division to facilitate staff involvement in media relations and communications-related initiatives

    Required Qualifications

    PhD in a relevant field

    Minimum of 5 years of experience in museum leadership, natural history collections care and development and research

    Widely known and respected among collection management and research professionals

    Strong record of securing and managing external funding for research and collections management.

    Experience in building and managing strategic partnerships

    Experience in working with collections management systems

    Experience in managing projects, including budget planning and monitoring

    Knowledge of collection management policies and procedures

    Knowledge of one or more areas of the Academy’s natural history collections

    Ability to forge relationships with staff, public, partners and stakeholders

    Ability to work with initiative, prioritize tasks and work to deadlines

    Ability to hold others accountable for delivering on goals

    Ability to both lead and work collaboratively as part of a team

    Ability to encourage the development of unique approaches and creative solutions

    Ability to engage in public relations and communicate to a wide variety of people.  

    Excellent organizational skills 

    Excellent verbal and written communication skills

    Ability to work occasional evening and weekend hours

    Preferred Qualifications

    Experience in publishing research and contributing to conferences, professional networks and forums relating to collections care

    Experience in delivering cultural change through servant leadership

    Widely known and respected among leading collections management professionals

    Understanding of library and archive collections


    Center City, Philadelphia, PA

    Additional Information

    This position is classified as Exempt with a salary grade of P. For more information regarding Drexel’s Professional Staff salary structure, https://drexel.edu/hr/career/ducomp/salstructure/

    Special Instructions to the Applicant

    Please make sure you upload your CV/resume and cover letter when submitting your application.

    We strongly encourage individuals of diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences, identities, and abilities to apply.

    Advertised: Mar 22 2022 Eastern Daylight Time
    Applications close: Apr 30 2022 Eastern Daylight Time

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