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Director of Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Job Description

How to Apply

A cover letter is required for consideration for this position and should be attached as the first page of your resume. The cover letter should address your specific interest in the position and outline skills and experience that directly relate to this position.


The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) is the largest of the University of Michigan’s 19 schools and colleges, enrolling more than 18,500 undergraduate students. The Division of Undergraduate Education includes more than 20 units that support students from before admission to after graduation, featuring high-impact educational experiences, such as study abroad, undergraduate research, and civic engagement. We also serve as an incubator for curricular and co-curricular innovation. 

Together, we pursue a mission of academic excellence and creativity with a commitment to diversity, access, equity, and inclusion for the students served by the Division and the faculty and staff who advise, teach, guide, and support them. Within the Division, the Director for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship reports to the LSA Assistant Dean for Student Development and Career Initiatives, and oversees an evolving array of programs that encourage and support our students in their efforts to change the world. 

The signature and founding program in this portfolio is optiMize and its annual social innovation challenge. optiMize is a student-led, staff supported social innovation incubator that offers workshops, mentorship, and funding for students to work on self-directed projects that make the world more just and sustainable. Since its launch as an independent student organization in 2012, optiMize has helped more than 3000 students start social impact projects, and awarded nearly $2 million in seed funding to student teams. To provide support and professional development to its many student leaders, optiMize is also home to the Mentoring, eMerge, and Infinity programs. 

LSA Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship teams provide the college with an innovation space as well. Beginning in 2018, the optiMize team adapted its model to serve LSA’s efforts to support prospective and current transfer students, launching the juMpstart program and the moMentum fellowship for pre-transfer students and establishing the aMplify post-transfer community. These programs help transfer students develop a stronger sense of belonging, community, purpose, and impact throughout their educational journey. In addition to co-curricular programs, optiMize also works collaboratively with the faculty of the College to offer courses in social innovation and entrepreneurship to undergraduate students across all disciplines at UM. More than 1000 students participate in LSA’s social innovation and entrepreneurship programs annually. 

The College of LSA takes a broad view of this work, recognizing that social innovation and entrepreneurship involve both leadership and service, take place in the public and private sectors, among small teams and across broad communities, in both for profit and nonprofit organizations. Our next Director for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship must bring a strong a liberal arts perspective to all of our programming in this area. 

We also believe the best social innovations emerge from a diverse and dynamic community. optiMize engages students from first-year undergraduates to PhD candidates, from all 3 UM campuses, all 19 UM-Ann Arbor schools and colleges, and partner community colleges statewide. 63% of optiMize participants are people of color, 52% are women or non-binary, and 33% are community college transfers or prospective transfers. Our Director for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship must be prepared to continue this record of success, and have demonstrated experience working successfully with diverse communities. 

We are seeking candidates who love working collaboratively in fast-paced environments, enjoy managing daily operations and logistics, and are excellent communicators across a range of stakeholders including students and donors. They should have experience working with entrepreneurial programs, facilitating leadership development opportunities, and establishing curricular opportunities. 

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Michigan is to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future. The University of Michigan is committed to foster learning, creativity and productivity, and to support the vigorous exchange of ideas and information, not only in the classroom but in the workplace by:

  • Creating a work environment in which people treat each other with respect and dignity, regardless of roles, responsibilities or differences.
  • Providing support, direction and resources enabling us to accomplish the responsibilities of our jobs and to reach the goals that are set for professional and personal growth.

As a public liberal arts college, LSA’s mission is twofold: 

  • To push the boundaries of what is understood about human experience and the natural world, and to foster the next generation of rigorous and empathetic thinkers, creators, and contributors to the state of Michigan, the nation, and the world.
  • An in-depth articulation of LSA’s mission, vision, and values is available on our Strategic Vision website.

Why Work at Michigan?

In addition to a career filled with purpose and opportunity, the University of Michigan offers a comprehensive benefits package to help you stay well, protect yourself and your family and plan for a secure future. Benefits include:

  • Generous time off, including vacation time, sick time, holiday and season days
  • A retirement plan that provides two-for-one matching contributions with immediate vesting
  • Many choices for comprehensive health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Long-term disability coverage
  • Flexible spending accounts for healthcare and dependent care expenses

In addition, the college of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) offers:

  • Enhanced tuition support programs for LSA courses
  • Strong commitment to work/life balance
  • Flexible work arrangements with respect to campus stakeholder needs
  • Being part of something greater, of serving a larger mission of discovery and care — that's the heart of what drives people to work at Michigan. In some way, great or small, every person here helps to advance this world-class institution. It's adding a purpose to your profession. Work at Michigan and become a victor for the greater good.


Strategic Planning, Program Management and Oversight (40%)

  • Responsible for the development of the unit’s strategic plan including overall implementation, diversity, equity and inclusion commitments, and daily operations oversight
  • Responsible for the strategic growth of the Community Partnerships and transfer student initiatives in coordination with LSA Student Recruitment and the optiMize Community Partnerships Manager
  • Direct and implement program goals and objectives, and provide leadership and expertise in the development of workshop curriculum for the Social Innovation Challenge in collaboration with the optiMize Associate Director
  • Collaborate with other units in the Division of Undergraduate Education to help meet LSA goals for student recruitment, development, and success
  • Develop evaluation tools to assess the effectiveness of content and programming 
  • Chair and/or serve on department committees as required

Hiring, Supervision, Administration, and Development of Staff (20%)

  • Provide leadership in promoting the holistic, equitable, inclusive, and developmental model of student-led success pioneered by optiMize
  • Hire, train and supervise, and evaluate a diverse full-time staff of four (4)
  • Develop onboarding and training processes for new and continuing staff
  • Establish staff work procedures and manage work hours throughout the office
  • Create yearly professional development & best practices model(s) for the continuous growth of unit staff, both regular and temporary
  • Facilitate effective communication and collaboration across stakeholders in the LSA Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship organization and community
  • Ensure regular and full-time staff are in compliance with university policies and trainings
  • Update and fulfill administrative duties in accordance with College written procedures requirements

Fiscal Management, and Development — (20%)

  • Develop and manage the unit’s annual budget including leading the unit through budget request cycles
  • Provide leadership in ensuring all programs and initiatives stay within budget
  • Actively participate with the College’s Advancement Office to engage new donor relations and steward existing donors in partnership with the Stewardship & External Engagement Program Manager
  • Manage the unit’s financial transactions and transfers

Coursework and Program Development (20%)

  • Work with LSA faculty to develop and coordinate social innovation and entrepreneurship courses 
  • Recruit, train, and assess student facilitators and course assistants
  • Explore models for student-led courses in the College of LSA
  • Ensure all programs are equitable and accessible 
  • Liaise and strategically partner with other units in LSA Undergraduate Education to offer high-impact programming
  • Remain current on research, scholarship, and best practices related to the liberal arts and sciences, higher education, and position-specific requirements
  • Explore and utilize different technologies to accomplish program objectives

Required Qualifications*

  • Master’s degree and 5+ years of relevant professional work experience with strategic planning in a higher education or non-profit environment.
  • Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills. Strategic leadership and management experience. 
  • Entrepreneurial mindset and comfort with ambiguity. 
  • Experience engaging and working successfully with diverse groups of students, staff, and faculty. 
  • A demonstrated ability to work independently and a proven record of working collaboratively and diplomatically with others. 
  • Capability to design strategic program aims and lead others in creating programs to achieve those aims.
  • Capacity to develop productive relationships and work collaboratively with a variety of University stakeholders. 

Desired Qualifications*

  • 10+ years of relevant professional work experience with strategic planning in a higher education or non-profit environment.
  • Experience with grant writing and donor engagement. 
  • Expertise in developing student programming and facilitating growth in student leadership.
  • Experience in program evaluation.

Additional Information

As one of the world’s great liberal arts colleges, LSA pushes the boundaries of what is understood about the human experience and the natural world, and we foster the next generation of rigorous and empathetic thinkers, creators, and contributors to the state of Michigan, the nation, and the world.

To learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion in LSA, please visit lsa.umich.edu/lsa/dei.

To learn more about LSA’s Mission, Vision and Values, please visit lsa.umich.edu/strategicvision.

This is primarily an in-person position, with some flexibility, and the successful candidate will be expected to work on-campus a majority of the time.

Background Screening

The University of Michigan conducts background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer and may use a third party administrator to conduct background checks. Background checks will be performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled anytime after the minimum posting period has ended.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

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