UROC Executive Director Search

A Message from University of Minnesota Associate Vice President for Public Engagement Andrew Furco

Dear Community Colleagues,

I wish to provide an update on the search for the next UROC Executive Director.

As you know, the search began in February 2016 with the identification of tenured University of Minnesota faculty members who might be interested and qualified in serving as UROC's next Executive Director. The new director would succeed University of Minnesota Professor Heidi Barajas, whose term as UROC Executive Director ended in June 2016. A committee composed of community members and University faculty familiar with UROC's programs led the search effort.  

Following a review of internal candidates, the decision was made to implement a national search that would broaden the pool of applicants. The search committee reviewed applications throughout the fall, and conducted interviews with eight candidates in the early months of 2018. 

Five finalists were identified and were invited for on-site interviews, which included meetings with community members, the search committee, University faculty and administrators, and the UROC staff.  Each candidate was asked to conduct a public presentation at UROC; the presentations were videotaped and posted online for viewing.  (Note: One finalist withdrew from the search and did not conduct a site visit).  

All four finalists were strong, and each brought a unique set of skills. However, we were not able to finalize a hire with any of them, including securing a tenured faculty appointment in one of the University's academic departments, a requirement of the position.

At this time, I am reviewing the current position description and exploring ways in which it might be modified so that we successfully identify and hire a qualified candidate to take on this important leadership position.  As a research and engagement center, UROC requires an executive director who can build UROC’s future vision and bring it to fruition, collaborate effectively with a broad range of community partners, and have the requisite scholarly record and experience to engage University faculty in UROC’s research and engagement partnerships.  As I consider the next steps, I am taking into account a broad range of recommendations that have been offered by members of the community, the UROC staff, search committee members, and University faculty. 

I extend my gratitude to Professor Michael Oakes, chair of the search committee, and all the members of the search committee for their hard work over the last 15 months in our search for UROC’s next Executive Director.  I also extend my thanks to Marilyn Higgins, who has led UROC as Interim Executive Director during this search period.

I continue to welcome your input regarding the position.  Please feel free to email me your thoughts and suggestions at avp-ope@umn.edu.   I will provide periodic updates on the Executive Director search as key developments occur.

Andrew Furco
Associate Vice President for Public Engagement
University of Minnesota

Background on UROC Executive Director: Overview

The University of Minnesota has launched a national search for the position of Executive Director of the Robert J. Jones Urban Research Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC). UROC's next executive director will build on the leadership of Heidi Lasley Barajas, who has served as executive director since 2011.

The position is open to individuals with a strong background in community-engaged research and partnership development, with knowledge and understanding of best practices in building mutually beneficial campus-community partnerships, participatory research, and community-engaged scholarship—especially in the context of urban communities.  As an academic research center, UROC is led by a tenured faculty member at the University of Minnesota. Therefore, eligible candidates will have a distinguished record of scholarly achievement in an academic discipline that qualifies them for an appointment as a tenured associate or full professor at the University of Minnesota. Detailed requirements are outlined in the full position description (link is below).

A nine member search committee, chaired by Professor Michael Oakes of the University's School of Public Health and composed of University faculty and community partners, will work to identify and screen candidates for UROC's top leadership position.The search committee will begin its review of applications on August 25, 2017.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Search committee members are:

Michael Oakes (chair), professor, UMN School of Public Health;
William English, community project director, Northside Job Creation Team;
Yingling Fan, associate professor, UMN, Humphrey School of Public Affairs;
Wokie Freeman, assistant city manager, City of Brooklyn Park;
Katie Johnston-Goodstar, assistant professor, UMN School of Social Work;
Shauen V.T. Pearce-Lassiter, director, Center Cities Competitiveness Initiative;
Cathy Polasky, senior policy advisor, Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith;
Virajita Singh, assistant vice provost, UMN Office for Equity and Diversity; and
David Weerts, associate professor, UMN College of Education and Human Development.

View position description.