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Director, Graduate and Postdoctoral Training & Development

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Position Description:
The Director for Graduate and Postdoctoral Training & Development is a key member of The Graduate School leadership and reports to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. The Director leads initiatives that impact training, mentoring, and career planning for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. This position leads TGS internal units, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, Training Grant Support Office and Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development, as well as TGS based workgroups and committees as related. The Director advocates for the Northwestern postdoctoral population and partners with Northwestern University faculty, administrators, and postdoctoral fellows on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. The Director provides leadership for the enhancement of the professional development resources for the graduate student and postdoctoral community. As the multi-campus focal point for institutional training grants, the Director provides strategic input to faculty regarding sustaining and creating training programs.

TGS is an evolving, fast-paced school with many new initiatives designed to further its strategic goals of diversifying, serving and engaging its community to strengthen graduate education and postdoctoral training. TGS looks for individuals that share our values for meaningful collaboration, flexibility and a commitment to academic excellence.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Oversees the units of Postdoctoral Affairs, Training Grant Support Office and Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development. Supervises staff and is responsible for the selection, training, evaluation and the professional development and advanced training in alignment with organizational purpose and objectives.
  • Fosters a positive working environment, which encourages service, innovation, collaboration, transparency, accountability, new ideas, and risk taking in support of desired outcomes.
  • Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development: Promotes TGS' professional development strategy and best practices to support and ensure scholars are engaged in focused research and preparation for broad career options; responds to changing landscape of the job markets to provide leadership and strategic direction for graduate student and postdoctoral professional development.
  • Training Grant Support: leads the network of training grant directors across the institution, including initiating internal and external collaborations leading to cross-departmental and cross-school training grant proposals. Positions the institution and its faculty members successfully obtain and renew training grant applications. Oversees all training grant related activities to include: facilitating an efficient proposal production process; conducting effective project planning; researching and reviewing funding opportunities; analyzing competitive positioning and risk; researching institutional and sponsor policies and regulations to ensure general procedural compliance. Identifies emerging research areas that can be targeted for the development of new grant funded training programs.
  • Postdoctoral Affairs: responsible for overseeing the postdoctoral community at Northwestern University; ensures the effective, compliant, & efficient daily management of postdoctoral affairs; engages in events and orientations in support of the postdoctoral community.

Strategic Planning & Administration

  • Works closely with TGS leadership to set direction and strategic plans for Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, Training Grant Support Office and Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development.
  • Serves as institutional representative and strategic voice for postdoctoral affairs, training grants and professional development opportunities. Engages in university-wide strategic initiatives related research, training and development.
  • Works collaboratively with principal investigators and the leadership of Office for Research, Office of the Provost, Office of Human Resources, and Schools.
  • Maintains the data, systems and the use of information related to the recruitment, retention and training of postdocs and training grant proposals.
  • Implements strategic plans in consultation with faculty and TGS leadership regarding postdoctoral policies and training. 
  • Partners with TGS leadership to implement strategies related to predoctoral and postdoctoral research training, including identifying and targeting external funding organizations related to TGS priorities and national initiatives related to research training.
  • Conducts regular needs assessments, including assessment of peer institutions.
  • Leads the Training grant support office to aid in the submission of training grant applications, including providing advice and facilitating data reporting to faculty involved in the preparation of NIH and NSF training grants, and other agencies.
  • Councils and provides guidance to faculty in the preparation of training grant proposals and renewal applications.
  • Provides vigorous outreach to training grant program administrators, directors and other graduate faculty.
  • Actively seeks out and sources opportunities to secure training grants that align with key areas of research.
  • Ensures approvals and tracking of all training grant commitments.
  • Responsible for managing the training grants process through forecast, budget and analyze commitments.
  • Builds relationships with Principal Investigators (PIs) & NU research associated offices; transfers knowledge & advises on research policy & procedure.


  • Supports the TGS grant portfolio fiscal activities, from research development to close-out activities, continually evaluating & recommending alternatives to minimize risk while maximizing goals.
  • Responsible for financial stewardship of unit budgets and ensures unit budgets are created, monitored and reconciled in a fiscally responsible manner.
  • Resolves issues such as determining appropriate & reasonable cost-sharing percentages on complex grants involving multiple locations; effort reporting problems; under- or over-spent grant budgets; recommend changes to eliminate deficit balances; overdrafts.


  • Serves as institutional representative related to postdoctoral affairs. Creates, implements & oversees programs, policy & practice designed to ensure research and grant compliance issues with all appropriate NU policies & practices; local, state, federal, agency & sponsor rules, regulations & requirements regarding grant and/or contract administration.
  • Ensure communication and training within TGS and across appropriate areas of NU.


  • Master's degree
  • 5 years' relevant experience working in a university or in an alternative research environment required with 2 years of research administration and 3 years of research, finance, administrative or other relevant experience.
  • 5 years' experience as part of a collaborative leadership team which involved understanding complex issues and proposing appropriate recommendations/solutions.
  • Strong familiarity with and/or appreciation for an academic setting or research driven institution.

Minimum Competencies:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to think and perform at the strategic level, and convey credibility and presence to each individual/group.
  • Proven ability to implement tactical initiatives in support of a strategic plan.
  • Self-starter, diplomatic, pro-active, skilled at managing deadlines and priorities.
  • Strong collaboration and leadership skills with a willingness to assume responsibility.
  • Ability to influence and maintain positive relationships with constituents and partners; can be relied on with confidential information.
  • Proven strong listening skills and openness to input from others.
  • Ability to assemble and create an effective Grant proposal.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • PhD preferred, especially in the sciences or engineering.
  • Experience as a postdoctoral fellow.
  • Administrative experience.
  • Experience representing student or staff interests in an organization.
  • Experience managing a team.
  • Familiarity with grants administration, federal funding agencies, and policies for sponsored funding.

Preferred Competencies:

  • Familiarity with Northwestern University and its organizational structures, processes and procedures is preferred.
  • As per Northwestern University policy, this position requires a criminal background check. Successful applicants will need to submit to a criminal background check prior to employment.

To Apply:
Please visit and click on Apply.

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.