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Director of Communication, Research Profile and Impact, OVPR

The University of Saskatchewan's (USask) main campus is located in the vibrant city of Saskatoon on Treaty 6 territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis. USask is one of the top research-intensive, medical doctoral universities in Canada, and is home to world-leading research in areas of global importance, such as water and food security and infectious diseases.

The Office of the Vice-President Research (OVPR) provides visionary leadership and strategic direction to the university's research, scholarly, and artistic works. This is achieved by creating strategic partnerships, plans, and policies that together create a supportive research environment indicative of a world-class research-intensive university.

PRIMARY PURPOSE: The Director, Research Profile and Impact is key to advancing the University of Saskatchewan as a U15 research-intensive university. The position provides strategic leadership to the Office of the Vice-President Research (OVPR) and the campus community in building the university's national research profile and supporting effective local, national and international research partnerships. The Director provides strategic counsel and guidance on best practices for communicating research impact, high-level reputational risk management expertise, and expert advice and leadership in communicating major research initiatives. Working in close collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders, including, but not limited to, University Relations and a network of USask college and research centre communicators, the Director leads the telling of the USask research story to the world.

NATURE OF WORK: Reporting to the Vice-President Research and as a key member of the OVPR Executive team, the Director, Research Profile and Impact leads a team of communications professionals (both direct and indirect reports) to ensure effective research communications strategies and products (ie. news releases, videos, speeches, stories, websites, events, etc.) for all major research initiatives. The Director co-ordinates all major research announcements for the institution, provides advice on and editorial review of research news releases drafted across campus, and offers high-level communications advice, strategy and support to senior university leaders on research-related issues management. The Director leads the university's research communications with federal and provincial agencies, ensuring compliance with government announcement protocols.

This position requires a proactive and strategic approach in a fast-paced and complex environment with the ability to critically assess opportunities and risks to provide a strategic level of decision-making and advice on a routine basis, while maintaining a wide range of professional relationships both across and external to the university. The Director is required to work in an environment where it is critical to balance major time-sensitive opportunities and diverse needs of multiple stakeholders, and maintain confidentiality and discretion.


Strategic Planning and Implementation

  • As a member of the senior executive team, contribute to the fulfilment of the University Plan, as well as the development and implementation of the institution's strategic research plan.
  • Participate in and provide expert communications counsel to the wide range of strategic and operational issues of the OVPR and the campus research community, including communications that advance the university's international strategy, commercialization, and knowledge mobilization.
  • Develop and implement relevant metrics for assessing progress in research reputation building.

Strategic Counsel on Institutional Research Positioning and Profile Development

  • Provide strategic and specialized communications counsel to the VPR and OVPR Executive, as well as other university senior leaders, on research reputation issues, initiatives and policies, as well as approaches to federal and provincial partners regarding research issues and opportunities.
  • In consultation with the AVP Strategic Communications, provide specialized research communications counsel to, and undertake research-related projects (strategic op eds, speeches) for members of the President's Executive Committee and other senior leaders.
  • In collaboration with the AVP Government Relations, develop strategies and lead special initiatives to communicate the impact and benefits of USask research with government stakeholders.
  • Actively engage with the university's communications community to inform development of communications policies, strategies, and priorities reflective of a research-intensive culture and ensure the university's research agenda is effectively integrated into internal and external communications across campus.
  • Liaise with the AVP Strategic Communications and the AVP Government Relations to ensure that they, the OVPR leadership team and other senior leaders are well-briefed on research risk management issues, funding announcements, and research-related marketing initiatives.
  • Exercise a leadership role in research communications nationally by engaging with communications leaders at the national level agencies and organizations (including Universities Canada and the U15 Group of Research Universities) to optimize USask opportunities in national research communications campaigns and advance USask research profile, partnerships, and impact.

Strategic Communications Oversight for Signature Areas and Other Major Research Initiatives

  • Working with research leaders and campus communicators, provide strategic thinking and communications counsel to advance USask's research Signature Areas, areas of strength, and emerging areas of research, scholarly and artistic work.
  • Serve on various committees to provide research communications strategy such as for major new research programs or infrastructure projects, research rankings, and the hiring of research communicators for research centres.

Strategies for Knowledge Mobilization and Research Impact

  • Provide advice and guidance to the VPR and appropriate research leaders on best practices for identifying research needs of communities, industry, and government, and sharing co-created research knowledge for maximize impact.
  • Work with the OVPR and Institutional Planning and Assessment to develop and communicate research impact indicators and research reputation assessment.
  • In collaboration with the AVP Strategic Communications, work with senior leaders in colleges, schools and units to identify and implement strategies for communicating research impact and promoting the use of research by government, industry and communities.

Mentorship / Executive and Staff Development

  • Act as a mentor to staff supporting communications and research to identify research impact stories, research dissemination strategies, best practices for knowledge mobilization, and strategies for communicating those impacts, as needed.
  • Provide media relations training workshops, as needed, to senior leaders and researchers across


  • Coach and supervise graduate student writers in the production of research communications stories, particularly through the unit's Young Innovators partnership with The StarPhoenix.


Education: Minimum of an undergraduate degree in business, communications and/or journalism, or related field. An equivalent combination of education and experience in journalism or communications may be considered.

Experience: Eight to ten years of directly related experience in communications/journalism, with a demonstrated progression in level of responsibility; knowledge and experience in developing strategic organizational communications; demonstrated ability to support senior level administrators; and proven experience working with confidential and sensitive information within a complex environment.

Experience in and understanding of the university research environment and handling a wide range of university issues, structures and processes will be considered an asset.

Skills: Possesses a visionary mind, strong collaborative leadership and relationship-building skills; strategic organizational communications skills and exceptional writing and editing skills; demonstrated ability to exercise diplomacy and creativity in solving issues; critically assess opportunities and ensure reputational risk management; highly motivated and organized with strong ability to manage multiple time-sensitive tasks and competing deadlines; polished written and interpersonal communications skills; ability to work independently and collaboratively; proven ability to leverage and develop content utilizing various communications tools; demonstrated ability to work effectively and discreetly with confidential and sensitive information is critical; proven diplomacy, creativity and tact; attention to detail and demonstrated commitment to quality; and demonstrated proficiency with contemporary computer applications.


Inquiries regarding this position can be directed to Brit Tastad at Via Isarta.

Department: Vice-President (Research)

Status: Permanent

Employment Group: Exempt

Full Time Equivalent (FTE): 1.0

Salary: The starting salary will be commensurate with education and experience.

Salary Family (if applicable):

Salary Phase/Band: Salary Band 4

Posted Date: 7/19/2022

Closing Date: 8/15/2022

Number of Openings: 1

Work Location: May be eligible for hybrid work under the terms of USask's Alternative Workspace Guidelines

The successful applicant will be required to provide the following current verification(s) where 'Yes' is indicated below. Further information is available at:

Criminal Record Check: Not Applicable

Driver's License and Abstract Check: Not Applicable

Education/Credential Verification: Not Applicable

Vulnerable Sector Check: Not Applicable

Please review the University of Saskatchewan's Health and safety requirements for faculty, staff and students in consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University believes equity, diversity, and inclusion strengthen the community and enhance excellence, innovation and creativity. We are dedicated to recruiting individuals who will enrich our work and learning environments. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, in accordance with Canadian immigration requirements, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority. We are committed to providing accommodations to those with a disability or medical necessity. If you require an accommodation in order to participate in the recruitment process, please notify us and we will work together on the accommodation request. The University of Saskatchewan's main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another. Together, we are uplifting Indigenization to a place of prominence at the University of Saskatchewan.

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