Director, Office of Research Communications

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seeks a Director for its Office 
of Research Communications. The Director manages the communications office that 
serves the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research (OVCR) and works with OVCR 
senior leadership and the University to develop and execute communications 
strategy for UNC-Chapel Hill’s $1.1 billion research enterprise. Through the 
office, he or she communicates and promotes the impact and value of research at 
UNC-Chapel Hill externally and internally and increases public and private 
awareness and support for the University’s research mission.

Specific Duties of the Director:

·                     Develops and implements strategic messaging and 
communications for UNC-Chapel Hill’s research enterprise.
·                     Promotes the impact and value of Carolina’s research 
enterprise to internal and external target audiences through a variety of media 
(e.g., websites, print publications, video, infographics, social media, 
electronic presentations, advertising, booth displays, signage, special events, 
·                     Develops and executes communications strategy for the 
strategic priorities of the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR).
·                     Leads ORC staff in the identification of stories and 
creation of content that engage target audiences and increase awareness of the 
value and impact of Carolina’s research accomplishments and highlight VCR and 
University strategic research priorities.
·                     Boosts the visibility and effectiveness of the UNC 
Research web presence as a communications platform, increasing on-line traffic, 
readership and social media engagement by target audiences.
·                     Coordinates communications activities and provides 
high-level direction to the 14 research centers and 10 offices that report to 
the VCR, providing support and assistance to their communications efforts and 
promoting alignment with VCR and University research priorities.
·                     Collaborates with communications personnel in the 
Chancellor’s office and in individual University schools, departments centers 
and institutes outside of the OVCR to align messages relating to the 
University’s larger research enterprise.
·                     Promotes and supports efforts that help faculty and staff 
communicate the impact and value of their research.

·                     Supervises and manages ORC personnel, workload, budget 
and performance.
·                     Curates, manages, critiques and edits content and 
communications produced by ORC staff.
·                     Provides executive communications support to the VCR and 
the OVCR.
·                     Regularly evaluates the effectiveness of UNC research 
communications efforts and recommends adjustments and modifications as needed.
·                     Tracks and reports ORC performance consistent with goals 
and metrics established for the Office.
·                     Oversees and evaluates the work of the OVCR webmaster, 
recommending approaches and solutions for web design, architecture and 
constituent relations issues involving the websites and web pages of the 
various OVCR divisions.
·                     Identifies and arranges opportunities for professional 
development and training of ORC staff to ensure the proper mix of skills within 
the Office to meet evolving communications needs.

Outreach and Collaboration
·                     Maintains an external focus and close working 
relationship with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Communications, 
particularly its media and content teams, to ensure alignment of research 
communications goals with overall strategic messaging for the University.
·                     Supports and works closely with the UNC media relations 
team to increase news coverage, sharing and dissemination of Carolina research 
stories in national, local, and new media.
·                     Builds and maintains strong ties with University research 
communications professionals in individual schools, departments, centers or 
institutes to ensure awareness of current research activity on campus, advance 
joint communications projects, and provide assistance where appropriate.
·                     Works closely with UNC’s Directors of State and Federal 
Affairs to support their efforts and ensure consistency of message with respect 
to university research to government audiences.
·                     Establishes and maintains relationships with relevant 
national organizations and with counterparts at other universities and research 
organizations in the state.

The director’s position may at times involve hands-on responsibility for 
writing and editing, infographics and website development, and design when 

Education:  The position requires a bachelor’s degree. An advanced degree is 
preferred, although additional years of related experience in communications, 
journalism, public relations or a related field, particularly in management and 
leadership roles, may be considered in lieu of an advanced degree. Training or 
experience in science and research will be advantageous and viewed favorably.

Qualifications and Experience:  This position requires a minimum of eight years 
of experience in communications, writing, media relations, publications and 
multi-media on-line content creation. It requires three years of experience 
successfully managing and overseeing a communications office for a large, 
complex organization and working collaboratively within a matrixed 
communications environment.  It requires a dynamic, energetic leader 
experienced in communicating strategic messages through diverse media and 
capable of inspiring a creative team of writers, story-tellers, producers and 

The Director should be experienced in story-telling as a form of content 
marketing, with an intuitive grasp of the interests of a target audience and a 
talent for reaching and engaging them with relevant content. He or she must be 
a strong writer and editor, capable of quickly grasping complex scientific 
concepts and communicating their substance and value visually and in writing in 
ways that make them easily understood by a general audience. He or she must be 
committed to the production of high-quality content with an attention to detail 
and be able to inspire the production of such work in others.

The Director must have experience simultaneously managing multiple short-term 
projects while maintaining focus on long-term projects and delivering on 
strategic objectives. He or she must be skilled at building and managing 
external relationships and collaborating in a decentralized, diverse university 
environment with a team approach that combines collegiality and creativity to 
motivate others.

The Director must have experience communicating strategic messages through both 
traditional and new media and be capable of thoughtfully and effectively 
utilizing current digital, web-based and social media communication strategies. 
He or she should understand the interests, needs and focus of external content 
publishers and reporters in various media, with an understanding of the 
dynamics of the current media environment.

Proficiency in the use of design software such as Adobe Creative Suite and 
Microsoft Office 365 is sought for this position. Familiarity with website 
administration programs such as WordPress is also regard favorably.  Candidates 
having skills in these areas should specifically note them in their resume or 
cover letter.

Background on UNC and the Office of Research Communications:  The University of 
North Carolina at Chapel Hill was established as the nation’s first public 
university in 1789. Today, it is a comprehensive state research university, 
offering undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees to over 29,000 
students through 14 schools and colleges. The conduct of research is a major 
part of its mission. In FY17, UNC’s overall research expenditures exceeded $1 
billion, and the University ranks 5th in the US for federal research funding 
and 11th for total research funding from all sources. As a public university, 
it also receives substantial funding from the State of North Carolina. In FY17, 
its state appropriations totaled $500 million. The University’s leadership is 
committed to ensuring that UNC-Chapel Hill and its research enterprise serve 
and benefit the people of North Carolina and the world at large. Communication 
of the impact and value of research to the state and nation is a priority.

The Office of Research Communications consists of four full-time employees and 
may utilize the services of student writers and free-lance contributors. It is 
housed in the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research (OVCR), and the 
Director reports to the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research.  Additional 
information about UNC-Chapel Hill can be found at

Interested candidates must complete an EPA Non-Faculty online application and 
should submit a current resume, a letter of interest, and the names of four 
references, online at

Questions can be directed to:

Don Hobart
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research   |    UNC 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
300 Bynum Hall, Campus Box 7006
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7006<>    (919) 843-0052

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity and 
affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive 
consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender, 
gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, 
religion, sex, sexual orientation, or status as a protected veteran.

Consideration of candidates will begin immediately and will continue until the 
position has been filled.

Kerry Irish
UNC Institute of Marine Sciences
252.726.6841 x126<>

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