Organization: Carnegie Mellon University

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

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About Carnegie Mellon University:

Carnegie Mellon is a private, global research university. Internationally renowned in fields such as artificial intelligence, the performing arts, brain science, technology-enhanced learning, cybersecurity, design, robotics, and big data, CMU challenges the curious and passionate to deliver work that matters. CMU scholars stand tall among Nobel Laureates, Turing Award winners, national academy members and other global leaders in research and creativity. By focusing on the challenges facing society, CMU students and faculty collaborate across disciplines, sometimes developing entire new fields of study.

Since its founding in 1900, CMU has engaged deeply with practitioners and partners in the public and private sectors, from Silicon Valley to Broadway. In 2014 alone, CMU’s vibrant innovation ecosystem created 36 spinoff companies. CMU has more than 350 corporate partners, relationships that attracted companies such as Google, Apple, Intel, Disney, Uber, GE, Boeing, and Tata Consultancy Services to Pittsburgh. The university makes a significant contribution to the regional economy while it enriches the area’s cultural and civic life. CMU graduates are some of the most highly sought-after recruits in emerging fields, finding success and blazing new trails in their careers.

CMU By the Numbers

More than 6,300 undergraduates and 7,000 graduate students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a variety of curricular and research opportunities, and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for global issues, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Several Carnegie Mellon schools and departments rank in the top 10 according to U.S. News & World Report: computer science (1), undergraduate engineering (6), fine arts (7), graduate engineering (4), undergraduate business (7), part-time MBA (7), statistics (9), and public affairs (9).

Carnegie Mellon is affiliated with 19 Nobel Laureates, 19 members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 50 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 14 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 Turing Award recipients, three Guggenheim Fellows, one MacArthur Foundation Fellow, one National Book Award winner, two National Medal of Science winners, and five National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners. In addition, former faculty and alumni have won seven Academy Awards, 130 Emmy Awards, and 41 Tony Awards.

A Global Community

An internationally connected and culturally diverse community, Carnegie Mellon has campuses in Pittsburgh, Silicon Valley, New York City and Qatar as well as programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America. More than 100,000 alumni around the world help foster the university’s global perspective.

University Leadership

Subra Suresh became the ninth President of Carnegie Mellon University in July 2013. Prior to assuming his role, he served as director of the National Science Foundation. A distinguished engineer and scientist, President Suresh is the only university president to be elected to all three National Academies – the Institute of Medicine (2013), the National Academy of Sciences (2012) and the National Academy of Engineering (2002). He is one of only 16 Americans with membership in all three National Academies, and the only university president. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he received the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. At Carnegie Mellon, he has launched new research initiatives in brain science, technology-enhanced learning, and data sciences, and has worked to enhance the University’s many offerings and programs in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Dr. Suresh was nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in September 2010. As director of this $7 billion independent federal agency, he led the only government science agency charged with advancing all fields of fundamental science and engineering research and related education. Before joining NSF, he served as the Dean of the School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). President Suresh received his Bachelor of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in First Class with Distinction; a master’s degree from Iowa State University; a Doctor of Science degree from MIT; and completed postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He joined the faculty of engineering at Brown University in December 1983, and was promoted to full professor in July 1989. He joined MIT in 1993 as the R.P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and served as head of MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering during 2000 to 2006.

For more information on Carnegie Mellon University, please visit

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

The City of Pittsburgh has successfully reinvented itself from a steel and manufacturing center to a city that today is leading America in health care, technology and education. The region is on the crest of a wave of tremendous growth and expansion. The riverfront area facing downtown is designed to be one of the most spectacular urban waterfront projects in the U.S., featuring green space and “water steps,” along with a fishing pier. A view of the city’s skyline is rarely better than from atop Mount Washington, just 10 minutes from campus, one of Pittsburgh’s most famous hills, home to eclectic eateries and historic neighborhoods.

Pittsburgh has a rich history in arts and culture. Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Benedum Center houses the Pittsburgh Opera. The city has a long tradition of jazz, blues and bluegrass music. In addition, the Pittsburgh Dance Council and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater host a variety of dance events. Major art museums include the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Frick Art & Historical Center, and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The ToonSeum, one of three museums in the U.S. dedicated to cartoon art, is located downtown, and downtown’s cultural district hosts quarterly Gallery Crawls and the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Pittsburgh is one of the fastest-growing industrial cities in the country and has an incredible melting pot of cultures from every part of the world. Compared to major metropolitan cities, it offers an exceptional quality of life with a robust arts, culture and dining scene. The Culture of Pittsburgh stems from the city’s long history as a center for cultural philanthropy, as well as its rich ethnic traditions. Pittsburgh has transformed into a vibrant community and has gone through a Renaissance. The economy in Pittsburgh is strong and important businesses such as Google, Disney and GE have established significant facilities in Pittsburgh, setting up offices and laboratories within the past three years. Today, the result is a pastiche of customs, cuisine, and linguistic oddities that are absolutely unique.

The Opportunity:

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) seeks the ideal candidate to serve in the newly-created position of Vice President for Operations. The creation of this position underscores the criticality of central administrative functions across a broad range of disciplines working collaboratively to support the education and research mission of the university. This is further reinforced by a historic ethos within the university of close partnerships between the central administration (President, Provost, Vice Presidents and Vice Provosts) and the key academic leadership provided by the Deans and Department Heads in the various colleges and schools of the university.

The Vice President for Operations will provide direct oversight of Human Resources (including services and programs to attract, develop and retain a world-class, diverse workforce), Campus Services (including Copy Centers, Parking & Transportation Services, Postal Services, Printing & Publications, University Stores), Enrollment Services (including Financial Aid, HUB Student Service Center, Registrar, Student Accounts, and Summer Studies), Facilities (including Environmental Health & Safety and Facilities Management Services), Risk Initiatives, and University Police. Other relevant units may be added to the Vice President for Operations portfolio, dependent upon the selected candidate’s experience and interest.

The new Vice President will inherit strong leadership throughout the divisions and departments within the Operations Group, and will be expected to grow and nurture management talent for those under her/his charge. It is expected that the ideal candidate will have a strong team ethos, cultivating and rewarding smart, collaborative solutions to complex institutional issues spanning resource management, staff development, facilities investment and stewardship, technological infrastructure, and risk management.

Beyond the focus on the Operations Group, the Vice President will assume a central role on a small senior management team that prioritizes cross-functional interest and capabilities and deep mutual respect. The senior management team is comprised of a group of ten individuals, including the President, the Provost, Vice Presidents for Advancement, Finance (Chief Financial Officer), Legal Affairs (Chief Counsel), Marketing & Communications, Operations and Student Affairs (Dean of Students), as well as the Director of the President’s Office and the Secretary to the Board of Trustees. This group reflects the dual advantages of a relatively small university with a complex, global mission and vision. The shared governance model requires that each member of the senior team be broadly educated, aware of the national and global landscape in which the university operates, and desirous of an opportunity to be a significant contributor to the progress of the university within and beyond her/his designated areas of primary focus.

The core academic mission of the university, reflected in world-class reputation in education, research and societal transfer, cannot be overstated. The Carnegie Mellon University community is comprised of students, faculty, staff and alumni deeply committed to solving real world problems in inventive and entrepreneurial ways, and in advancing through each of the university’s disciplinary and interdisciplinary foci the advancement of society. The Vice President for Operations, along with the other senior leaders noted, cultivate an institutional ethos that leverages constrained resources for optimal impact, working especially closely with the Deans and other academic leaders throughout the institution.

Given the wide range of divisions and departments under the Vice President for Operations, s/he will have a unique opportunity to continue to build a university community that is deeply committed to the welfare of students, staff and faculty. For the high ambitions of the members of this community to come to fruition, Carnegie Mellon must have a community that is supportive, caring and which provides the services necessary to that end. This includes services ranging from elemental safety, reflected in the work of University Police and Environmental Health and Safety, to the various Campus Services units and Enrollment Services. While this will pervade the whole of the Group, certainly the Human Resources Division will be a critical area of focus in ensuring that staff and faculty recognize and can rely on the supports, guidance and services that the university provides for them.

The built and virtual environment, reflected in the various facilities components of the Operations Group, offers a particularly exciting opportunity for the new Vice President for Operations to collaborate leadership. While the Carnegie Mellon University campus includes a number of historic buildings, and the capital renewal need inherent in them, it also has been a place of extraordinary growth in recent years. As well, Carnegie Mellon’s other domestic and foreign locations strive to provide the ideal, situation-specific spaces for those growing programs. The complementary mission of Computing Services—ranging from basic infrastructure to exciting platforms and supports for distance and technology-enabled learning, research and collaborations—allows for creating visioning, planning and development to ensure the right first-order investments for sustainable impact locally and globally.

The new Vice President for Operations will be an individual with a distinguished career and demonstrated excellence throughout her/his professional career. S/he will be a person of great talent and with unquestionable integrity. It is absolutely essential that the new Vice President shares the university’s deep commitment to a campus culture that prizes diversity and inclusion, respect and mutual engagement, and personal and professional character. Moreover, regardless of whether the candidate of choice comes from an institution of higher education, this role calls for someone who is deeply committed to the university’s particular mission and understands the academic, financial, legal and regulatory framework to be managed for the institution’s ultimate success. S/he will not be expert in all areas of focus within this expansive Group, but will care deeply about each, and will have the capacity to nurture and grow the team of experts necessary to continue Carnegie Mellon’s trajectory as the quintessential university of the 21st century.

Candidate Profile:

The Vice President will be a seasoned leader with a significant track record of successful, progressive, and applicable experience in the leadership and management of University operations. This individual will have a combination of breadth and depth with a broad array of departments, departmental technologies, strategic planning and execution. This leader will have a strong understanding of the principles of the institution, a progressive outlook towards best practices, and a comprehensive vision for the intersection of the various departments and divisions that will report into this role. The Vice President will have a commitment to the inter-disciplinarity central to Carnegie Mellon’s philosophy, along with the particular goal of amplifying Carnegie Mellon’s standing in the world of higher education, including strengthening academic programs, student and alumni services, and administrative functions. The Vice President will be a resourceful person who can handle conflict, foster understanding, and advance ideas. A respected leader, this individual will have the ability to communicate candidly the realities inherent in achieving campus operational goals.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:

Strategic and Entrepreneurial Leader: The Vice President for Operations will be a highly experienced leader with an entrepreneurial and enthusiastic spirit. S/he will be a proven strategic thinker with the vision, capacity, and experience to understand and balance a complex array of constituent needs. The Vice President will demonstrate the ability to diagnose critical areas for attention and develop and implement clear, action-oriented, innovative growth strategies that meet challenging problems with effective solutions that engender broad support and differentiate the institution. S/he will be agile in ambiguous situations and capable of providing stability and inspiring confidence when faced with important and quickly-changing circumstances. S/he will possess the ability to challenge the status quo yet employ a servant-leadership approach that does not threaten the culture of the institution.

Business and Political Acumen, Results-Oriented Problem-Solver: The Vice President will have a high level of business and political insight and a demonstrated ability in leading and managing a large complex organization. S/he will oversee the adequacy and soundness of the University’s operations group and portfolio of divisions, and have the proven ability to understand, analyze and interpret complex challenges. With the university’s financial and personnel needs in mind, s/he will utilize appropriate approaches to forecast institutional progress towards stated goals and achieve sustainable solutions. The Vice President will have the perspective to consider the impact of decisions, plans, and programs on the university, and make sound recommendations accordingly.

Relationship Builder and Collaborator: The Vice President will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships across all levels. S/he will be a natural collaborator with a demonstrated ability to connect with and build bridges among the various constituencies of the institution, including students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and other stakeholders. The Vice President will work across divisions, identifying efficiencies and opportunities for the benefit of the university as a whole. S/he will be consultative, promoting open dialogue across the university and with team members to identify and take advantage of best practices, synthesize divergent views and coalesce all constituencies around a shared view or plan. S/he will be proactive in partnering with others to address the human impact of change on campus members.

Skilled Manager and Passionate Advocate: The Vice President will be a decisive, results-oriented leader with a proven record of effective management of a broad range of functions. Flexible in adjusting to emerging needs or shifting priorities, s/he will be an excellent motivator able to inspire a shared vision, quality performance and strong morale. A passionate advocate for diversity, equity and inclusiveness, s/he understands and addresses challenges in this area directly. S/he will demonstrate the ability to build, nurture and retain a strong team of professionals that is focused on excellence, accountability and efficiency.

Persuasive and Influential Communicator: The Vice President will possess exceptional verbal and written communication skills, clearly articulating complex issues to senior leaders and stakeholders, as well as to the broader CMU Community. S/he will have an inspired ability to listen intently, think clearly and respond effectively to a variety of inquiries and challenges, synthesize input, make decisions, and share information broadly in order to build consensus and support for action with a clearly articulated vision. The Vice President will demonstrate the ability to build community both inside and outside of the Vice President’s areas of oversight using accessible language to explicate information, strategy and processes to individuals with differing levels of familiarity.

Personal Presence and Gravitas: The Vice President will demonstrate professional maturity through an ability to earn the respect of University leadership, faculty, administration, staff, students, federal agencies, external partners, and the greater CMU community. S/he will be charismatic and have high aspirations for herself/himself, remaining humble, agile, diplomatic and politically savvy.

The ideal candidate should possess the following personal characteristics:

  • Demonstrated understanding of and commitment to the overall strength of the university, including the educational and research mission of Carnegie Mellon University. S/he will be dedicated to the safety and well-being of all employees and students.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with a diverse group of constituencies on all levels within an organization and without, including, city, county, state, federal agencies, and community groups.
  • Demonstrated professional and personal integrity and honesty through consistent and transparent action throughout her/his career. Highly ethical individual with a consistent focus on the future of Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree or equivalent experience preferred.


Carnegie Mellon University has exclusively retained Koya Leadership Partners for this search. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan, Alison Ranney, and Eboni Gates. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials through Koya’s online link here or email Michelle, Alison, and Eboni at the following:

Michelle R. S. Bonoan
Managing Director

Alison P. Ranney
Managing Director

Eboni S. Gates
Senior Consultant

All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential. Carnegie Mellon University is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

About Koya leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information, visit