Associate Director for Engagement and Learning - University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (10/14/19)

Full-time, 20-month position with possibility of continued funding

Salary range:  $78,000-82,000

Job Summary

The Associate Director for Engagement and Learning will be a visionary leader and collaborative colleague responsible for promoting campus and community engagement with the spectacular new University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (UMMNH) through initiatives that are dynamic, innovative, and inclusive. Building on the museum’s mission, vision, and strategic plan, and the potential of its all-new facility and exhibits, the position will be responsible for interpretive planning and strategic alignment of major initiatives including participatory and layered learning, communication of university research, campus and community partnerships, and increased engagement with undergraduate students. The position will also support the goals of museum accreditation and the pursuit of major national grants.

This position requires outstanding managerial skills in bringing together a collaborative team of staff from exhibits, education, programs, and planetarium in shared goals and outcomes. Major areas of interpretive planning and alignment include: exhibitions (onsite and traveling), planetarium programming, participatory science education programs for students, families, youth, and adults, science communication training and practice for researchers at all levels, support for faculty outreach, outdoor learning gardens, and other initiatives, such as citizen and community science and teacher professional development. 

The position will co-lead the museum’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team and will work to create a diverse staff reflective of the audience it serves, providing staff training to ensure a welcoming experience for all visitors, and seeking opportunities to engage new audiences with the museum.

The efforts of this position focus on the activities taking place onsite at the U-M Museum of Natural History facility, as well as through regional outreach efforts. The ideal candidate is a dynamic and experienced leader with a passion for museums and informal learning and demonstrated success in engaging the public with topics of current concern, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and extinction, the impacts of pollution, and many others.

The Associate Director for Engagement and Learning reports to and works closely with the Museum of Natural History’s Director and is a strategic partner on the museum’s senior leadership team. The museum operates within a collaborative environment in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the University of Michigan, and emphasizes teamwork on the museum staff.

This is a new position that will be offered initially for 20 months. Ongoing funding will be requested from the university based on the demonstrated initial success of the position.


Interpretive Planning and Implementation– 50%

The initial project for the 20-month start-up period for this position will be to manage a consultant-led impact-planning process involving key staff and stakeholders. This project will help to shape the museum’s future interpretive plans and initiatives, and provide metrics for evaluating the museum’s and this position’s success.

Going forward, this position’s role will be to “set the tone” and the vision for the overall museum visitor experience, developing an innovative and engaging interpretive plan to take advantage of the museum’s many new learning spaces, opportunities to change content, and access to world-class research. The position will lead the creation of campus and community partnerships for both exhibits and programs. Anchored by the museum’s mission, vision, and strategic plan, the interpretive plan will provide opportunities to experiment with visionary and cutting-edge ideas while maintaining a solid foundation of exhibits and programs meeting our varied audiences’ STEM-learning needs, using universal design principles to ensure inclusivity and effective learning. The plan will connect the museum’s ever-deepening support for the teaching and research missions of the university with the community’s need for access to scientific thinking about local and global challenges. The position will oversee the continuation of major improvements to the management of the museum’s collections, and will work to ensure the scientific accuracy of exhibits and programs, and adherence to the museum’s guiding principles and style guides.

The position will provide operational leadership for implementation of the interpretive plan, bringing together staff from education, exhibits, and planetarium in a team-based effort to meet shared goals. 

Consideration of the diverse communities of Michigan and efforts to connect meaningfully and inclusively are critical to this work. Engagement with faculty and students, especially undergraduates, is also paramount.  

Supervision of staff – 20%

This position will directly supervise the head of exhibits, head of education, and planetarium manager, and through them, oversee the exhibits and education staff and 40-50 paid student docents who work in every area of the museum. The position will ensure that the museum hires effectively for achieving intended outcomes and supports staff professional development and the development of the interpretive team.

Budget, fundraising, revenue generation – 15%

Manage the annual budget for interpretive activities. Grant funding will require specific accounting and reporting. Contribute to budget proposals and planning. Collaborate with the Director, Associate Director for Operations, and Assistant Director for Development to raise funds to support new and ongoing interpretive efforts through a combination of revenue-generating activities, individual support, sponsorships, and grant proposals. This includes overseeing the creation and the close monitoring of revenue-generating educational programs.

Research and evaluation – 10%

Oversee and contribute to efforts to evaluate UMMNH’s work and to disseminate information about UMMNH’s impact. Ensure that regular, timely reports are prepared so that decisions can be made based on recent data and to demonstrate the value of UMMNH’s efforts.

General duties- 5%

Represent UMMNH on and off campus and in media interviews. Present the museum’s work to campus and external audiences. Support the museum’s brand and messaging. Participate in staff and senior leadership meetings. Contribute to museum-wide planning efforts and initiatives. Work occasional evenings and weekend days. Other duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications*

  • Master’s degree in science, education, museum studies, or a related discipline
  • 6 or more years of management experience in exhibits, education, and/or programming
  • Significant expertise and experience in informal learning
  • Strong facilitation and strategic planning skills
  • Knowledge of best practices and trends in science communication, museums, or a related field
  • Experience planning and managing major projects involving a range of participants
  • Strong interpersonal and leadership skills
  • Successful experience leading diverse teams
  • Ability to create a welcoming and inclusive environment in daily work 
  • Minimum 3 years of successful budget management experience
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and in collaborating and negotiating with diverse stakeholders
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to work with faculty and researchers to develop content and ensure accuracy of exhibits and programs
  • Experience in a position requiring successful management of multiple priorities and projects
  • Creative, flexible, and analytical thinker
  • Thrives in a fast-paced environment experiencing rapid growth
  • Proficient with business-related software

Desired Qualifications*

  • Training in a science discipline; able to critically review exhibit and program plans
  • Museum work history, with a specialty in one or more areas: exhibitions, planetarium, science programs, events
  • Experience with purchasing and knowledge of contracts, licensing, and copyright
  • Experience navigating a major research university
  • Experience leading or participating in a comprehensive interpretive master planning process
  • Experience working on or leading major grant initiatives in the museum field
  • Experience working on a new or renewed museum accreditation process
  • Experience in public speaking and media relations
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office and Google Office Suite
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    Posted on 9/30/2019

     The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721

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