Vice-President, Research and Innovation - Position Specification

The Opportunity

The University of Toronto invites nominations and applications for the position of Vice- President, Research and Innovation. The Vice-President plays an essential leadership role in the achievement of the University’s goals as one of the top public research universities in the world, through work with external agencies and through fostering the University of Toronto research enterprise across its three campuses. The Vice-President will execute the requirements of the position, committed to the University’s success in original research in all its forms, research partnerships, technology transfer, commercialization and entrepreneurship, as well as knowledge translation and social innovation.

Established in 1827 by royal charter, the University of Toronto has evolved into a complex institution that is the largest and most prestigious research-intensive university in Canada. Located in one of the world’s great cities, the University of Toronto benefits from a milieu rich in culture, recreation and diversity.

The University currently has more than 18,000 faculty and staff, some 83,000 students, an annual budget of $2 billion, research grant and contract support of more than $1.2 billion, and an endowment of $1.9 billion. Its library is consistently ranked as one of the top three research libraries in North America, with over 21 million holdings. The University has recently undertaken its largest capital expansion program in 40 years, building over 1 million square feet of classrooms, research facilities, libraries and residences. Its employees, students and alumni contribute an estimated $4.4 billion directly to the economy of the Toronto region and the University is one of its largest employers.

The quality and range of its programs – undergraduate, graduate and professional – attract students from all parts of Ontario, from across the country and from abroad. Of the 83,000 students enrolled at the University, approximately 12,000 are international students. The University has 18 academic divisions and its teaching programs are held on the St. George campus in downtown Toronto, on campuses in Mississauga and Scarborough and in nine fully affiliated teaching hospitals in Toronto. The University offers an extraordinary scope of undergraduate and graduate fields of study, including a full range of programs leading to professional degrees. The University of Toronto has hundreds of student clubs and organizations spread across its three campuses and innumerable activities ranging from cultural events to intercollegiate and intramural sporting activities. Additional information about the University of Toronto is available online at

The Mandate

The Vice-President, Research and Innovation will play a leadership role in the achievement of the University’s goals as one of the top public research universities in the world, through fostering the University of Toronto’s research enterprise across its three campuses, through work with external agencies and through advancing strategic partnerships with affiliated institutions. The Vice-President, Research and Innovation will be a distinguished scholar and educator with demonstrated excellence as a leader and an administrator.

Reporting directly to the President, the Vice-President, Research and Innovation will have responsibility for promoting and facilitating research through participation in the University’s academic planning, maximizing opportunities for research funding and awards both within Canada and internationally, developing and implementing policies related to research, and providing a full range of research services to the University. They are responsible for advancing the University’s ambitious goals with respect to innovation and commercialization, including licensing, company creation and non-profit knowledge transfer. The Vice-President is also charged with promoting the University’s research reputation internationally.

The Vice-President’s portfolio exists to enable all members of the University to fulfill their potential with respect to undertaking research and achieving success in the research they undertake. It comprises three areas: Research Services, Innovations and Partnerships, and Research Oversight and Compliance. The new Vice-President is expected to continue to build on the strengths of these units, ensuring that they are able to anticipate and respond to changing needs of individual researchers, evolving expectations of funding entities, ongoing and desired growth in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization, and the increasing demand for research infrastructure funding to support the University’s research endeavour as a whole.

Given the intersection of the Research and Innovation portfolio with each of the executive portfolios, the Vice-President will work closely with the President and members of the vice-presidential team in realizing the University’s academic mission. Among the Vice-President’s critical relationships, they will work with the Vice- President and Provost and with the Deans and the Principals to link academic and research planning, and to provide readily accessible services and support to researchers across the University. Along with other activities, they will collaborate with the Vice- President and Provost on initiatives to support faculty career development and to enhance academic program quality. In partnership with the Vice-Provost, Graduate Research and Education and other institutional leaders, the Vice-President, Research and Innovation has responsibility for orientation and training of members of the University community in issues and best practices of responsible conduct of research. They are also expected to be an active partner in supporting graduate students’ academic success, including efforts to build and strengthen research funding for graduate students, and will also play a significant role in expanding undergraduate research opportunities, working in partnership with divisions.

The Vice-President, Research and Innovation will play a critical advocacy role for university-based research at the level of both the Federal and Provincial Governments. They should help shape the national research agenda, with attention to humanities, social sciences, physical and life sciences, health sciences, and engineering. The Vice- President, Research and Innovation will also work closely with the President and other Vice-Presidents in developing and executing advocacy strategies for effective advancement of the University’s research agenda with the Federal and Provincial Governments.

Given the well-established emphasis of granting agencies on innovation and partnering, the Vice-President must be creative in working with the University’s academic divisions, the teaching hospitals with which the University is affiliated, industry, foundations, and the Vice-President, Advancement on partnerships that maximize opportunities for research funding. The Vice-President, Research and Innovation will also be the university’s primary point of contact with MaRS Innovation, and will support the President in shaping and maintaining the university’s relationship with MaRS Discovery District.

The Vice-President, Research and Innovation must promote, in cooperation with the Vice- Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions and the Chair of the Council of Health Sciences Deans, a close and effective working relationship with the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network which includes the affiliated teaching hospitals and associated research institutes, to strengthen the necessary partnerships for the advancement of health- related research at the University of Toronto.

The Vice-President, Research and Innovation will play a leadership role in promoting and supporting international research initiatives and seeking to enhance international research funding opportunities, in concert with various vice-presidential portfolios that have important components of international relations, as well as with academic divisions across the University. In addition, they will be responsible for developing cooperative working relationships with their counterparts at other universities.

Personal Qualifications and Experience

The University of Toronto is one of the top universities in the world, and has aspirations to progress further in international rankings and reputation. To support this ambition, those in leadership positions at the University must have superior academic profiles and the capability to command the respect of their peers. To that end, the new Vice-President, Research and Innovation will be a respected academic leader, with an exemplary track record of teaching, research, scholarship, service, and senior leadership experience with responsibility for promoting research and innovation.

The Vice-President will have in-depth knowledge of the current issues that face higher education in general, and be well-versed in the culture of and issues affecting public research universities in particular. The successful candidate will provide effective leadership in a complex, tri-campus organization, and will embrace the pluralism of a research-intensive university located in a metropolitan centre. They will foster an environment in which all individuals and groups can be successful in performing diverse kinds of research.

The President’s Advisory Committee is prepared to consider candidates from a variety of backgrounds and recognizes that no one individual will possess the desired qualifications in equal measure. Candidates should have a background or personal qualities that include a number of the following dimensions:


  • A passion for, and deep commitment to, the aspirations of the University of Toronto as a great public institution.
  • Exceptional leadership and management skills, with a track record of success in a complex and collegial environment.
  • Outstanding communication skills, with a reputation for articulating and advancing positions but being equally adept at listening.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to build and maintain strong collaborative relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • A history of being a team player, working constructively and cooperatively with colleagues within and beyond their own institution.
  • The ability to be goal-oriented and decisive while being a champion for collaborative processes.
  • A track record of being politically astute.

Administrative Experience

  • A proven track record of successfully using superior analytical, organizational, and managerial skills to advance an academic unit or institution.
  • A track record of successfully managing multi-faceted partnerships.
  • Demonstrated success in leading and facilitating innovation.
  • Knowledge translation and commercialization.
  • Experience in international initiatives.
  • A history of successfully moving from vision to implementation.
  • A proven record of formulating and implementing strategic plans with the participation and support of a diverse constituency.

Attitude / Style

  • A record and reputation that demonstrates integrity, energy, openness, consistency, sound judgment, fairness, resourcefulness and confidence, coupled with a sense of humour, an accessible manner, optimism and enthusiasm.
  • A personal style that balances firmness and fairness in problem resolution.
  • An inviting and exemplary communication style, which will help forge and maintain successful relationships with colleagues at the University of Toronto and with members of the external communities with which the University engages.
  • Well-developed entrepreneurial instincts and an approach that encourages creativity and entrepreneurial activity by others.

The Appointment

Ideally, the Vice-President will take office in January, 2015, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Recently named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for the 7th year in a row, and one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the 6th consecutive year, the University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. Please note that all qualified candidates are encouraged to apply, but applications from Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

Last Updated September 17, 2014