Vice President and Dean for Academic Programs

Job ID
Location : Location
US-MA-Woods Hole

Job Summary


Vice President for Academic Programs and Dean 





Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is at a transformational time in its history. In this age of growing global environmental crises, WHOI is poised to address the most challenging issues facing humanity with a renewed sense of urgency. The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. 


The WHOI community is dedicated to understanding all facets of the ocean and raising awareness of its complex connections with Earth’s climate, land, and life. WHOI knows the value of basic research and education as well asthe critical importance of leveraging scientific knowledge to ensure society’s long-term welfare, to help guide human stewardship of natural resources, and to increase appreciation for the importance of the global ocean to global climate, humanity, and the planet. 


WHOI is the world’s leading independent, non-profit organization dedicated to ocean research, exploration, and education. Founded in 1930 on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, WHOI is made up of nearly 1,000 employees, including more than 500 scientists, engineers, and technical staff. The organization’s facilities are located on two campuses in Woods Hole, covering 233 acres, 77 buildings, and two docks. As it approaches its 100th year, WHOI is committed to engaging a broader network of stakeholders in its mission, to cultivate new sources of funding, and to diversify the WHOI community—its leadership, staff, students, and supporters. 


Organized into five academic departments, several topical research centers, and the Marine Policy Center, WHOI investigators conduct research that addresses pressing science questions covering a wide range of topics related to ocean science, technology, and policy. These questions require interdisciplinary thinking, a combination of science and engineering, and teams focused on important topics such as the warming ocean, the carbon cycle and its relationship to Earth’s climate, the mapping of the ocean’s biodiversity, and understanding the impact of ocean changes on coastal communities.  


Known for ocean exploration and discovery at sea, WHOI operates the Global Class research vessel Atlantis, the Ocean Class research vessel Neil Armstrong, the coastal research vessel Tioga, and the human-occupied submersible Alvin. WHOI also develops and deploys a broad range of autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles. 


WHOI scientists and engineers collaborate closely to explore the farthest reaches of our ocean planet, designing vehicles to probe deep into the ice-covered seas, collecting samples to understand life around hydrothermal vents, and developing models and sensors to help predict the next big seafloor earthquake. Investigators from all departments are deeply engaged in collaborative research to better understand and predict Earth’s changing climate and its impact on the ocean and our lives. Other recent initiatives include a partnership with NASA to search for life on other ocean worlds in our solar system; efforts to bring scientific rigor to the study of microplastics in the ocean; and investigation of the impacts of offshore wind turbines on coastal ecosystems and fisheries. 

WHOI leads a number of national initiatives including the Ocean Observatories Initiative, a multi-institution, NSF-funded program of sustain ocean observation with a budget in excess of $50 million per year, and is home to national facilities, including the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF) and the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (NOSAMS). 


WHOI conducts important applied research for several federal agencies and the military, including the innovative development of new ocean technologies. WHOI is also capable of rapid response in times of crisis: WHOI accurately measured the volume of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; mapped the spread of radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster; located the wreckage of Air France flight 447 in the deep Atlantic; and responded to harmful algal blooms ("red tides") in Florida’s coastal waters. 


The bulk of funding for WHOI’s annual operating budget of approximately $295 million comes from government grants and contracts, with the balance coming from its approximately $450 million endowment and private philanthropy (individuals, foundations, industry)—an increasingly important source of funds. 




Students and postdoctoral researchers are integral to WHOI's mission. WHOI offers doctoral degrees in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) primarily funded by external grants and fellowships, as well as M.S. degrees for students from the U.S. Navy. The MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering (with a current enrollment of over 130 students) has a history of training future leaders, with many of the over 1,000 alumni occupying leadership positions worldwide in ocean science and related fields. Additionally, at any given time, over 60 postdoctoral researchers are hosted across WHOI's five departments, and, again, many of these researchers go on to national and international leadership positions.  


WHOI offers a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program, which hosts 30 undergraduates each summer funded by NSF and other government and private funds. WHOI is independently accredited and can offer graduate degrees and provide for-credit undergraduate courses in marine science and ocean engineering. WHOI also offers internship opportunities through its guest student program, educational programs for K-12 students, and numerous outreach activities for the broader community.  


The Academic Programs Office at WHOI has an annual budget of $17 million consisting of funds from restricted endowment, tuition return, private gifts, and federal grants. The largest single expense supports salary and benefits of WHOI scientists who teach and advise in the Joint Program. The Vice President for Academic Programs and Dean is currently supported by a half-time Associate Dean, Budget Manager, Registrar, Student Affairs Officer, Postdoctoral Coordinator, Housing Coordinator, and Coordinator of Undergraduate Programs. The VP/Dean also supervises the WHOI Data Library and Archives. 


To learn more about the WHOI community and its diverse initiatives, please visit: 


The Opportunity 

Reporting to the President and Director of WHOI, the Vice President for Academic Programs and Dean (VP/Dean) will be charged to develop and lead an ambitious academic program and will serve as a key member of the senior leadership team. The VP/Dean will lead the development of all institutional educational strategies, the implementation of educational programs, and their integration within the larger institutional mission of WHOI. A strategic partner to the President, Director of Research, and other members of the executive team, the VP/Dean will work to ensure that WHOI continues to serve as an  important leader in the education of students and professionals in ocean sciences.  

The VP/Dean will develop an overall vision of the academic programs at WHOI that takes advantage of its strengths as a research powerhouse on the oceans and continues (and expands) its legacy in educating the next generation of ocean scientists, engineers, and leaders. As interest in the oceans expands, WHOI needs an innovative, entrepreneurial leader to develop an academic strategic plan and guide the evolution of its programs. The VP/Dean will continue to strengthen the existing programs (such as the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering and the WHOI Postdoctoral Scholar Program) while also considering new, innovative degree and non-degree offerings to meet emerging needs of learners of all ages.    

As a member of the senior leadership team, the VP/Dean is a significant contributor to all aspects of WHOI and will be engaged in all discussions of scientific and strategic leadership, planning, and formulating policy, in addition to ensuring the successful operation of the Academic Programs Office. (Click here: for more information)  

A strong commitment to diversity and equity, scholarship, and education by the VP/Dean is essential, and should be demonstrated by a distinguished record in research, teaching, academic leadership, and management.  

Essential Functions and Responsibilities

  • Develops and executes a bold vision and academic program strategy that leverages the Institution’s research capabilities, builds on the foundation of its exceptional long-standing programs, and sets a strategy to ensure its continued impact in this increasingly critical field of study: 
    • Strengthens and leads the iconic MIT-WHOI Joint Program and Postdoctoral scholar program to assure its ongoing excellence. 
    • Manages and expands educational outreach programs, including the Undergraduate Summer Student Fellowship and undergraduate research, K-12, and other programs in coordination with the WHOI faculty and staff.
    • Explores and leads the creation of new degree and non-degree programs to meet emerging needs. Creates partnerships with other academic and research institutes that support the excellence and relevance of offerings.  
    • Serves as primary contact for Academic Programs with the US Navy, including partnerships with other elements of Navy educational programs.  
  • Oversees the Academic Programs Office in its role of administering education programs and developing a supportive environment for students, fellows, and their advisors at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels. 
  • Develops and manages finances and staffing for the Academic Programs Office. 
  • Develops education policy in concert with The Education Assembly, counterparts at MIT, and WHOI’s scientific and administrative leaders, including department chairs, center directors, scientific and technical staff.  
  • Works directly with the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer (CDEIO) to broaden diversity and equity across all programs, and directly with the Chief People Officer (CPO) to ensure appropriate engagement on matters regarding personnel matters.  
  • Partners with the Development Office in creating a narrative and developing a strategy that will attract additional philanthropic resources to WHOI'S academic programs.  
  • Serves as a compelling spokesperson for WHOI’s educational mission and programs for internal and external audiences. Represents WHOI on the national and international stage regarding ocean science and engineering educational policy and broader scientific education issues. 

Education & Experience

Candidate Profile 



Visionary Leadership 

Demonstrated success in developing a dynamic and impactful vision for academic programming; can articulate a clear strategy for bolstering academic offerings to drive institutional impact.  

Reputation in the Profession 

Demonstrated leadership of scientific collaborations and/or educational initiatives; able to represent WHOI as a leader in its scientific and educational missions. Proven accomplishments and innovation in research, mentoring, and teaching at different educational levels. 

Management Experience 

Administrative experience working with and leading teams of scientists and engineers, including managing significant budgets and research-focused and -funded education programs.  

Academic Accomplishments 

A doctoral degree and experience in a discipline related to ocean sciences, STEM, or engineering is required. A record of excellent scholarly achievement that will gain the trust and respect of the WHOI faculty and researchers and their external partners.  

Demonstrated Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  

Significant experience and a record of success in working with faculty, students, and staff to develop a positive environment that fosters and supports a diverse community. 

Transparent Communicator  

Demonstrated excellence in oral and written communication with a discerning ability to lead diverse stakeholders to consensus, and to represent WHOI's educational mission at all levels of the Institution and within the international ocean sciences community.  


Strategic Educational Leader   

In a globally renowed oceanographic institute, the next VP/Dean will serve as an visionary, data-informed, and collegial leader to a world-class scientific community. This leader will develop and execute a dynamic academic vision that will strengthen, expand, and enhance the reputation and impact of WHOI.  With a bold, expansive perspective on academic programs spanning K12 learners through post-doctoral researchers, the VP/Dean will bring energy and creativity to ensure that historically exceptional programs remain at the cutting edge, and they will also develop partnerships (both externally and internally) that anticipate future academic needs and advance new programs. With an eye toward excellence and experience implementing and evaluating programs, the next academic leader will ensure a suite of academic programs—including modern pedagogies— that support the research enterprise and help build the next generation of scientific and oceanographic leaders.   

Inclusive and Collaborative Leadership  

In an institution that values shared governance, and in an environment where collaboration is fundamental to its success, the VP/Dean will serve as a partner to the students/fellows, faculty, staff, and senior leadership, creating a culture where broad input is valued, and transparent communication is essential. In developing the academic strategy, the VP/Dean will invite input from all corners, create an environment for rigorous discussion and debate, and set a clear path for decision-making. This leader will understand the importance of gaining buy-in and trust from key constituents. In all matters, the VP/Dean will support and advance WHOI’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and bring this lens to all decisions.  

Driving Results 

With a compelling vision for opportunities for ocean science education, the VP/Dean will support the continued operational excellence of the academic programs at WHOI by ensuring resources align with programs and that policies drive accountability and excellence.  The VP/Dean will develop programs that advance WHOI’s reputation and positively impact its bottom line through enhanced philanthropy or other revenue sources.  A capable steward of the office’s resources, the successful candidate will develop metrics to track progress and focus on accountability in all aspects of the programs.  


  • Strong communication skills, both written and oral, including the ability to communicate complex concepts effectively AT all levels.  
  • Listens well; will seek and respect staff input. Can make tough decisions. 
  • Strong interpersonal and leadership skills with the proven ability to build strong working relationships at all levels of management as well as with external stakeholders.  
  • Excellent attention to detail and high reliability.  
  • Demonstrable passion for WHOI’s mission and vision.  


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is being assisted in this recruitment by the international leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart and welcomes nominations or expressions of interest. To submit comments, nominations, or expressions of interest, please send an email with any supporting materials to the confidential address: . 

As an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution does not discriminate against any applicant or employee on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, sex, gender identity, age, national origin, citizenship status, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, ancestry, or veteran status. 


Physical Requirements

No pre-determined physical requirements; all candidates are encouraged to apply.


Sorry the Share function is not working properly at this moment. Please refresh the page and try again later.
Share on your newsfeed