Director, Contracts


Director, Contracts

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.


A remote work option is available.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) safeguards and advances U-M's research enterprise by providing its partners with efficient pre-award and non-financial post-award services for the compliant administration of externally sponsored grants, contracts, and ancillary agreements. ORSP aspires to be recognized across the globe as the leading provider of innovative, and high-value guidance on the conduct of sponsored research and other funded activities. Additional information regarding ORSP is available on our website.

Our office is growing and looking for a talented and experienced individual to oversee a team of teams negotiating and executing contracts related to sponsored projects on behalf of the institution. The incumbent in this position will be a confident and accomplished leader who combines domain expertise in leadership, negotiation of sponsored project agreements, research administration, emotional intelligence, a strong grasp of organizational dynamics and development, and process improvement skills. The Director, Contracts directly supervises a team of Assistant and Associate Directors who lead teams that review, negotiate, and accept sponsored project contracts and related agreements for the University of Michigan. This position has the responsibility and signature authority to review and agree to contractual terms and conditions on behalf of the University as a university representative in the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. The incumbent oversees the development, review, negotiation, and execution of all U-M sponsored research agreements relating broadly to projects funded by industries, foundations, and governments, both clinical and non-clinical, basic and applied research, with a variety of entities including federal, commercial, and non-profit. This includes developing, coordinating, and maintaining systems and procedures that support the efficient drafting, negotiation, processing execution, and tracking of U-M research support agreements in a timely manner to support research in compliance with U-M and sponsor standards.

Why Work at Michigan?

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.

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 

-Many choices for comprehensive health insurance 

-Long-term disability coverage 

-Flexible spending accounts for healthcare and dependent care expenses and parental leave options

-Hybrid working arrangements, including a combination of on-campus and remote work 

-A retirement plan that provides two-for-one matching contributions with immediate vesting 

-Dental and vision insurance


Under the leadership of the Executive Director, Sponsored Projects this position is responsible for the following areas:


- Leads a team of teams. Provides guidance and mentoring to Assistant and Associate Directors. 

- Facilitates cross-team collaborations to ensure seamless handoffs between team members. 

- Hires, promotes, evaluates, and counsels leadership team in assigned line of business. 

- Participate in the implementation of strategic planning and continuous improvement initiatives and direction of ORSP in collaboration with other members of the ORSP leadership team. 

- Actively participate as a member of the ORSP Leadership Team, playing a key role in ensuring the smooth and effective delivery of research administration services across the U-M research enterprise.

Contracting Operations 

- Identifies issues in ORSP contracting workflows, and develops and directs implementation of resolution and/or works with the appropriate offices to address. 

- Participates in the development and implementation of new policies and revisions to existing policies. 

- Leads ongoing service excellence and continuous improvement initiatives. 

- Advises Executive Director and Assistant Vice President for Research on emerging and pressing issues. Recommends options and participates in the resolution of issues. 

- Communicate and present procedures and policy within ORSP and externally to the university community. 

- Optimizes staff skills and organizational structure and is responsible for leadership development and continuing education for those in the direct reporting chain. Provides team members with feedback and direction.

Outreach and Collaboration 

- Serves as a subject matter expert and ORSP conduit to key stakeholders (e.g., Office of General Counsel, Risk Management, Conflict of Interest, Innovation and Technology, Corporate Engagement, Development and Export Control) and collaborators for ORSP office staff. 

- Provides comprehensive and concise advice and analysis on issues related to sponsored research contracting. 

- Engages in collaborative educational and outreach efforts across U-M's campuses, with research administration and contracting associations (SRAI, NCURA, NCMA, MAGI) with peer universities (i.e., Big 10, FDP, COGR, AAU, NACUO, and UIDP member institutions), industry sponsors/partners and government agencies to establish and promote sustainable best practices in contracting and negotiations. 

- Serve as a representative of ORSP on University committees 

- Provides input to optimize enterprise-level systems supporting research administration, and participates in managing change within the research administration community 

- Meet and consult regularly with faculty and departmental staff to discuss research administration policies, procedures and issue resolution.

Required Qualifications*

- Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or equivalent combination of education and experience. 

- U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident Status: ORSP deals with export controlled information, the handling of which is regulated by the U.S. Federal Government and access to which is restricted to U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. 

- Six (6) or more years of directly related experience. 

- Four (4) or more years of management experience leading a high-functioning team. 

- Progressively responsible experience in contracts, research, or grants administration in a university or directly related business or organization. 

- Working knowledge of federal regulations and contract management as they relate to institutions of higher education, medical centers, and private organizations.

Desired Qualifications*

- MBA, JD, or similar advanced degree. 

- Familiarity with U-M policies and procedures related to research administration (including, but not limited to, accounting, purchasing, personnel, and regulatory compliance). 

- Certification in Research Administration (CRA) 

- Working knowledge of sponsor software systems (e.g. eRA Commons,, Proposal Central, etc.)

Additional Information

The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects seeks to recruit and retain a diverse workforce as a reflection of our commitment to serve the diverse people of Michigan and to maintain the excellence of the University. We welcome applications from anyone who would bring additional dimensions to the University's research mission, including women, members of minority groups, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities. The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, like the University of Michigan as a whole, is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for all persons and will not discriminate against any individual because of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status

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 are performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days.  The review and selection process may begin as early as the eighth day after posting. This opening 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.


Contact Information

University of Michigan, Office of Research & Sponsored Projects
First Name
Last Name
Contact Email
Contact URL

Background Information

Years of Experience
  • College/University
  • Hospital
  • Administrator or Administrative
  • Compliance
  • Grants and Contracts
  • Research Administrator/Manager
  • Sponsored Projects/Programs
Work Authorization
U.S. Citizen
Security Clearance

Target Job Information

Job Type
  • Full Time