Opportunity and Challenge Profile
In the late 1950s, a forward-thinking group of University of California (UC) scientists conceived of a network of natural California areas managed specifically for academic use. They were weary of seeing wildlands that had once served as outdoor laboratories be supplanted by urban development. They needed access to natural ecosystems, where their equipment would remain undisturbed and where they and their students could study plants, observe animals, and measure ecosystems over the long term.
In January 1965, seven University-owned sites became the system’s first Reserves. Today the UC Natural Reserve System (UC NRS) consists of 41 Reserves across the State, each anchored to one of the nine UC campuses that are not exclusively dedicated to health sciences. These Reserves encompass 47,000 acres owned by UC and provide access to millions of acres of biodiverse public lands. The Reserves are staffed by expert land managers, and they are available to students, teachers, and researchers from the UC and other research institutions. In addition, the Reserves serve as outreach destinations for K-12 classes and members of the public volunteering and attending courses, workshops, and UC NRS events. No other university-operated network of field sites in the world can match the size, scope, and ecological diversity of the UC NRS.
The UC Natural Reserve System is led by the Executive Director, who reports to the systemwide Vice President for Research & Innovation at the University of California Office of the President. The work of the UC NRS Reserves, individually and collectively, is significant. Yet the UC NRS has the potential for more important positive impact at the local, state, national, and global levels, truly fulfilling the public mission of the UC System. At a time of unprecedented humanmade ecological destruction and climate change, global pandemics, and social and political unrest throughout the world, the Executive Director must fully recognize the potential of the UC NRS and drive the organization to address these current challenges and those to come. To that end, the University of California seeks an Executive Director to lead the UC NRS in its effort to drive existing excellent programs and to further define and develop new initiatives. To achieve these important goals, the next UC NRS Executive Director will address the following key opportunities and challenges:
- Lead the UC NRS community
- Develop and execute an actionable vision for the UC Natural Reserve System
- Serve as an effective leader for faculty, staff, and external constituents throughout the UC NRS and campus partners
- Effectively represent the organization as champion and advocate for the UC NRS within the UC Office of the President, federal and California government agencies, and other external partners
- Strategically manage the resources required to achieve the many ambitions and aspirations of the UC NRS
This profile, which was prepared by the Search Advisory Committee with the assistance of Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, provides context and background information as well as key opportunities and challenges related to the position. Additional information and desired qualifications and characteristics are listed in the official position description, which is provided in the appendix. All confidential applications, inquiries, and nominations should be directed to the parties listed on page 5 of this document.
About The University of California
The University of California opened its doors in 1869 with 10 faculty members and 38 students. Today, the UC system includes more than 280,000 students and more than 227,000 faculty and staff, with 2.0 million alumni living and working around the world.
The UC system comprises 10 university campuses, 5 medical centers, 3 national laboratories, 160 academic disciplines, 800 degree programs, and $46.3 billion contributed to the California economy. The University is governed by the 26-member Board of Regents, which exercises approval over university policies, financial affairs, tuition and fees. The Regents appoint the university president and its principal officers. The UC Academic Senate, representing UC faculty, is empowered by the Regents to decide academic policies, including approving courses and setting requirements for admission, certificates and degrees. The Academic Senate also advises the administration on faculty appointments, promotions and budgets.
The UC Office of the President is the systemwide headquarters of the University of California, managing its fiscal and business operations and supporting the academic and research missions across its campuses, national labs, and medical centers. The UC Office of the President coordinates activities that allow a complex and unique system to operate efficiently as one university, furthering its public interest, academic and research missions. It oversees and manages programs that serve the entire university system, allowing campuses to capture the savings and efficiencies that come from centralized operations. President Michael V. Drake assumed responsibilities in August 2020 as the 21st president of the University of California.
For more information, please see: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/
About The University of California Natural Reserve System
The UC Natural Reserves System (UC NRS) manages 41 staffed and supported sites throughout California that are administered by the UC System to operate as a network dedicated to university level research and teaching, and public service. Most of the state’s major habitat types are represented within the UC NRS, from coastal tidepools to inland deserts, and lush wetlands to redwood forests. No other network of field stations matches the size, scope, and ecological diversity of the UC NRS Reserves. The UC NRS Reserves serve as outdoor laboratories to field scientists: the Reserves are classrooms without walls for learning, and nature’s inspiration to all.
The mission of the UC Natural Reserve System is: to contribute to the understanding and wise stewardship of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research, and public service at protected natural areas throughout California. A group of UC scientists banded together to start a network of natural areas supported specifically for academic use in the 1950s, recognizing the need to preserve and protect natural sites and wildlands in California for serving as outdoor laboratories at a time when the State was rapidly urbanizing. In January 1965, the Regents of the University of California established the Natural Land and Water Reserves System, as the UC Natural Reserve System was first known. Seven University-owned sites became the system’s first Reserves. Today the UC NRS is the world’s largest university system of field stations, consisting of 41 Reserves across the State, encompassing 47,000 acres owned by the UC, providing access to millions of acres of public lands, and hosting more than 100,000 student and researcher visits each year.
The UC NRS promotes and allows opportunities for research, teaching, and public service. Each Reserve is managed by a UC campus, with the Systemwide Office of the NRS at the UC Office of the President, part of the Research & Innovation unit of the division of Academic Affairs. For more information, please see: https://ucnrs.org/
Role of the Executive Director
Reporting to the Vice President, Research & Innovation (R&I), the Executive Director of the UC NRS has overall responsibility for strategic leadership, oversight, administration, systemwide programming, and development of the UC Natural Reserve System. The Executive Director provides this leadership in consultation with and as an ex-officio member of the President’s Universitywide NRS Advisory Committee. The Executive Director supervises the systemwide NRS staff and supports the efforts of numerous faculty and staff through the multi-campus, 41-Reserve system. The Executive Director provides representation, oversight, and accountability for the system to UC NRS stakeholders, both internal and external to the University, and to the public. This position is part of the Vice President’s cabinet.
Key Opportunities and Challenges for the Executive Director
Lead the UC NRS community
- Cultivate a culture of shared vision and collegiality across UC.
- Develop strategic partnerships internal and external to UC, especially with the government of the State of California.
- Deeply engage with the UC NRS community to fully understand the broad aspects of its operations, including programmatic, educational, infrastructure and diversity ambitions, and considerations for additional expansion, infrastructure, and funding.
Develop and execute an actionable vision for the UC Natural Reserve System
- Articulate the critical role the UC NRS can play in future research and needs around areas as varied as wildfires, climate change, and biodiversity through the UC NRS’ focus on facilitating teaching, research, and public service.
- Partner with UC NRS constituents in articulating the vision through formulating and implementing Universitywide programmatic, operational, and development plans for the UC NRS in conjunction with the Universitywide NRS Advisory Committee.
- Execute a cohesive, collective vision of the UC NRS, with the whole embodying more than the sum of its contributive parts.
- Develop a strategy to ensure continued stewardship of the land, safeguarding its resiliency in a changing future
Serve as an effective leader for faculty, staff, and external constituents throughout the UC NRS and campus partners
- Champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in the UC NRS community and all of its programs.
- Develop team members and future talent committed to the UC NRS, including communicating broadly to team members, campus Reserve administrators, advisors, stakeholders, and potential stakeholders in both raising the profile of and creating cohesion and community with the UC NRS.
- Operate comfortably, and with attention to, both direct line and matrixed environments, including recognizing the different needs and personalities of the different Reserves and campuses that support them, promoting efficiency through common approaches, and visiting campuses and Reserves to learn how to do so.
Effectively represent the organization as champion and advocate for the UC NRS within the UC Office of the President, federal and California government agencies, and other external partners
- Demonstrate a passion for and excitement about the benefits, opportunities, and responsibilities of the UC NRS.
- Raise the UC NRS profile by widely communicating an exciting actionable vision, including to faculty, students, and staff within the University of California, as well as with partners or others who can see the benefit of and create benefit from use of the Reserves.
- Advocate for the UC NRS internally at the University of California, highlighting its unique position as one of few systemwide entities strategically connecting campuses and demonstrating the strength and power of the UC system as a whole.
- Work with external agencies including California State Parks and the National Park Service, land trusts, NGOs, and other natural resource-oriented agencies and organizations, as well as with federal, state and local government to increase visibility and support of the benefits of the UC NRS.
Strategically manage the resources required to achieve the many ambitions and aspirations of the UC NRS
- Demonstrate fiscal responsibility and resourcefulness to ensure the effective and efficient operations of a large-scale, diversified entity.
- Advocate for the financial needs of the UC NRS (Reserves, staff, and general support for central operations) in the context of the realities of the public funding of higher education.
- Identify and secure large grant funding for systemwide initiatives that advance the mission of the UC NRS.
- Initiate and execute fundraising campaigns, including the capital campaigns and state bond campaigns for UC NRS systemwide initiatives.
Qualifications, Education, and Special Conditions
Please see appendix for official job description details.
Compensation and Location
Salary will be competitive and commensurate with the successful candidate’s experience and qualifications. This position is primarily located in Oakland, California. Extensive travel is required, as budget allows.
Inquiries, Nominations, and Application Information
Inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications should be submitted via the Isaacson, Miller website for the search: www.imsearch.com/7903. All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in the leadership profile, including describing your experience promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Electronic submission of materials is strongly encouraged.
Official UCOP Job Description:
The University of California, Office of the President (UCOP) seeks a strong and innovative leader for the systemwide office of the Natural Reserve System of the University of California. The mission of the UC Natural Reserve System (UC NRS) is to contribute to the understanding and wise stewardship of the earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research, and public service at protected natural areas throughout California. Established by the Regents in 1965, the UC NRS is a unique assemblage of protected wildland sites throughout California. Its Reserves encompass nearly all of the state’s major ecosystems, preserved in as undisturbed a condition as possible to support University-level research and teaching programs. With 41 Reserves, field stations, and research centers and responsibility for more than 750,000 acres, as well as providing research access to several million acres of protected public lands, the UC NRS is the largest university-operated system of natural reserves in the world.
Reporting to the Vice President, Research & Innovation (R&I), the Executive Director, UC NRS has overall responsibility for strategic leadership, oversight, administration, systemwide programming, and development of the Natural Reserve System. S/he provides this leadership in consultation with and as an ex-officio member of the President’s Universitywide NRS Advisory Committee. The Executive Director supervises the systemwide UC NRS staff and supports the efforts of numerous faculty and staff through the multi-campus, 41-reserve system. S/he provides representation, oversight, and accountability for the system to UC NRS stakeholders, both internal and external to the University, and to the public. The Executive Director interacts with and forms cooperative agreements and partnerships with state and federal agencies (including California State Parks and National Park Service), land trusts, NGOs, and other natural resource-oriented agencies and organizations at state, national, and international levels that manage natural areas or otherwise share UC NRS objectives. This position is part of the Vice President’s cabinet.
|25%||UC NRS Strategic Planning and Advancement: The Executive Director develops and communicates an actionable vision for the Natural Reserve System that is commensurate with the system mission and that addresses broad aspects including programmatic, educational, infrastructure and diversity ambitions. The Executive Director works with the Associate Director in articulating the vision through formulating and implementing Universitywide development, programmatic, and operational plans for the UC NRS in conjunction with the Universitywide NRS Advisory Committee. The Executive Director develops and coordinates systemwide grant proposals, opportune fundraising campaigns, and state bond programs for systemwide initiatives. The Executive Director leads in raising the profile of the UC NRS in support of UC Reserves and NRS programs, and ensures high external recognition via vigorous communication on all UC NRS activities and outcomes.|
|20%||Representation, Oversight, and Accountability: The Executive Director represents the University in its role as Trustee Agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and as a guardian of the public trust with regard to the University’s NRS Reserves. The Executive Director fulfills the University’s responsibility to ensure that the UC NRS is governed in compliance with the University’s legal and ethical requirements and assures accountability to UC NRS stakeholders and the public concerning the University’s governance of the Natural Reserve System. The Executive Director represents the UC NRS in forming collaborative agreements with state and federal public agencies (including California State Parks and National Park Service), land trusts, NGOs, and other natural resource-oriented agencies and organizations managing natural areas or otherwise sharing UC NRS objectives. The Executive Director maintains familiarity with individual Reserves including unique aspects, and compiles systemwide data on use, finances, productivity, and vital statistics of UC NRS Reserves. The Executive Director synthesizes the activities of the system through published reports of research, teaching, and public service; acts as a clearinghouse of information regarding the UC NRS; and represents the UC NRS to its stakeholders and the public through a unified publications program and website. The Executive Director serves ex officio on the Universitywide NRS Advisory Committee, which assists and advises the President, when appropriate, in the operation and development of the UC NRS.|
|20%||Reserve Management and Development: The Executive Director assists in developing Universitywide policies and procedures to ensure the sustained operation of UC NRS lands in accordance with accepted conservation land use principles and in alignment with the UC NRS strategic vision. The Executive Director initiates, facilitates, coordinates, and participates in the development of Reserve infrastructure and other capital improvements on UC NRS Reserves. The Executive Director coordinates the acquisition of new Reserves in accordance with systemwide policies including financing and conducts periodic Reserve reviews. The Executive Director reviews the viability of proposed land additions to the UC NRS in the context of Universitywide criteria; and in collaboration with the Director of Real Estate Services Group, negotiates acquisitions (gifts, grants, purchases, leases, cooperative agreements) with private landowners, government agencies, land trusts, NGOs, and other interested parties. The Executive Director supports and collaborates with UC NRS information management staff to develop and administer systemwide information technology systems in order to meet the ever-evolving instrumentation and data needs of the system.|
|20%||Academic & Research Programs: The Executive Director works with the UC NRS Director of Research and Education in developing and managing academic research and teaching programs on UC NRS Reserves, placing particular emphasis on collaborative approaches that foster synergy among Reserves, campuses, and other UC NRS partners. The Executive Director works to develop new collaborations for field science and nature reserve management that can be applied and adapted to the UC NRS, focusing on building partnerships for the UC NRS, including opportune fund raising and grant writing to support new program(s). The Executive Director maintains existing and develops new professional collaborations in service of natural areas protection and management; and develops and coordinates research programs, including the preparation of grant proposals in furtherance of systemwide UC NRS goals. The Executive Director fosters new research initiatives to contribute significant state-of-the-art research that directly influences policies, and advances society and stewardship ideals to improve the lives of Californians and others.|
|10%||Personnel and Budget Administration: The Executive Director currently directs a specialized unit of six direct reports and an operational budget of $2.5 million annually.|
|5%||Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: The Executive Director is responsible for leading initiatives that will foster an environment that supports diversity, equity, and inclusion in all components of Reserve activity including but not limited to personnel management and hiring, budgeting, research, teaching and mentorship.|
- Outstanding leadership qualities, including a high degree of integrity, long-term vision, and commitment to the UC NRS mission, in upholding the University’s role as a guardian of the public trust with respect to the Natural Reserve System.
- Significant knowledge and current understanding of emerging issues and trends in natural resource management, ecosystem science, and environmental laws and policies.
- Working knowledge of policy, business management and the ability to connect and collaborate with funding agencies, government organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
- Demonstrated organizational leadership and people management experience.
- Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in close collaboration with a team of professionals, fostering a positive, supportive, respectful, and collegial work environment.
- Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with constituents from a variety of backgrounds and training (including faculty, administrators, state and federal governmental agencies, NGOs, land trusts, conservation organizations, foundations, private donors, external advisory board and the public).
- Excellent oral and written communication, negotiation, and presentation skills to represent the UC NRS effectively to a wide variety of audiences, convey complex information, influence outcomes, and tactfully work with complex situations and ideas.
- Experience with fundraising and other university development activities, including relevant foundations, working with oversight boards, University campus development offices and officers, state government funding opportunities, and a demonstrable record of accomplishment in fund development.
- Demonstrated engagement and achievements with issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Experience as a faculty member of a research university.
- Ph.D. in the environmental, physical, biological or related sciences, with advanced knowledge of and experience in performing and managing field sciences and field research, or an equivalent level of education and relevant management experience.
- Must pass a background check.