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Dean and Chief Academic Officer


Grand Rapids, MI
ID: 958-085



Dean and Chief Academic Officer 


Van Andel Institute, a basic research and science education organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan, seeks its next Dean who will also serve as the Chief Academic Officer for the Van Andel Institute Graduate School. The Van Andel Institute Graduate School offers a rigorous research-intensive Ph.D. program that develops leaders in molecular and cellular biology. The position is charged with all programmatic, academic, managerial, and fiscal responsibilities for the Graduate School.


The Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s mission is to transform students into independent scientists through an intense, problem-focused Ph.D. degree in molecular and cellular biology. By combining rigorous problem-based learning with extensive experience in laboratories led by the Institute’s 36 Principal Investigators, the Graduate School prepares students as future biomedical research leaders in academia, industry, government, and advocacy roles. The Graduate School is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


The Graduate School headquarters is in a newly renovated building adjacent to the Institute. It currently has 50 students with 40% enrolled from diverse countries (the anticipated student body size is set by a metric of an average of two students per basic science laboratory). The Graduate School has an annual operating budget of approximately $3.6M and eight staff members including the Dean and Chief Academic Officer.



• Navigating fluidly among the scientific community, the higher education landscape, and the student experience

• Articulating a vision of excellence for the graduate community

• Emphasizing the importance of training future scientists and faculty as well as supporting multiple career trajectories,

• Focusing on student outcomes (including graduation rate, time to degree, and productivity in terms of publications) to continue exceeding national averages in the field of biological and biomedical doctoral programs

• Leveraging emerging research-based educational practices, and learner-centered methods

• Offering integrated courses designed and taught by biomedical researchers and education leaders

• Aspiring to develop a community where historically underrepresented peoples in science thrive educationally, professionally, and personally

• Continually evolve and improve, anticipating the needs of our students and biomedical community in the next 5, 10, and 15+ years

• Participating in faculty recruitment and evaluation, and

• Serving as a member of the Institute’s Research Advisory Council.



• Accomplished biomedical scientist who has led a productive, extramural funded laboratory

• Knowledge of cutting-edge best practices in higher learning with a strong, unwavering commitment to excellence in graduate education

• Proactive vision and leadership skills that will take graduate education to the next level

• True commitment to teaching and research

• Significant experience with problem-based learning at the graduate level and interest in continuing to develop and innovate within this model

• Promote continuous development and growth of students, staff, faculty, structures, program, and Institute

• Inclusive, approachable, flexible, and collaborative with students, faculty, and staff

• Strong instinct for collaboration, team member to all units of the Institute and the ability to navigate various research, education, and operations environments

• Intellectual curiosity, innovative spirit, bold thinking, and willingness to take calculated risk

• Deep appreciation for the Institute’s mission, culture, and commitment to ensure the advancement of Graduate School, Education and Research.



• Earned terminal degree in an academic discipline from an accredited institution

• Record of distinguished accomplishments

• Demonstrated ability to be a dynamic, energetic, articulate, and motivational team builder and a visionary with a commitment to transdisciplinary principles

• Exercised ability to manage complex academic organizations, work effectively and collegially with all members of the VAI community, promote shared governance, and exhibit excellent communications, sound judgment and decision leadership

• Commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.

• Commitment to expanding culturally diverse populations and being a top-of-mind program for underrepresented people


Effective Date of Appointment: May-June, 2023.



Van Andel Research Institute is being assisted by Academic Search. Applications should consist of a substantive cover letter, a curriculum vitae, and a list of five professional references with full contact information. No references will be contacted without the explicit permission of the candidate.

Applications, nominations, and expressions of interest can be submitted electronically, and in confidence, to:

The position is open until filled but only applications received by November 1, 2022, can be assured full consideration. Additional information can be found in the position profile

Confidential discussions about this opportunity may be arranged by contacting Jerry Israel at or Anne Briggs at

Further information about Van Andel Institute can be found at

This position is located at 333 Bostwick Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI. View the Google Map in full screen.