Job announcement: Associate Director for Computing and Data Services, Prairie Research Institute

Close date: Mar 3, 2022
View the full announcement.

The Prairie Research Institute (PRI), a research and service institute of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, houses five large scientific surveys covering a wide range of expertise including biology, water resources, climate, geology, sustainable technology, and archaeology. PRI’s mission is to provide objective, integrated scientific research and service that allow citizens and decision-makers to make choices that ensure sustainable economic development, enduring environmental quality, and cultural resource preservation for the people, businesses, and governments of Illinois. Learn more at

PRI is seeing to hire an Associate Director for Computing and Data Services to be responsible for the leadership and management of the operations of the Prairie Research Institute Computing and Data Services group, overseeing IT services, infrastructure, security, and application development and to develop and align technology with business strategies by enabling institution processes with the appropriate technologies.  This includes advising the PRI Executive Director on IT needs, planning, policy development, and providing direction to information technology subgroups; Desktop Support, Network and Server Administration, and Application Development for five state surveys and over one thousand employees in fifty-three staff occupied buildings.  The Associate Director for Computing and Data Services reports directly to the Executive Director and serves as one of eight members of the Prairie Research Institute Executive Leadership Team.

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer that recruits and hires qualified candidates without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability or veteran status. For more information, visit

Major Duties & Responsibilities:

Technology Development, Implementation, and Management

  • Responsible for overseeing, coordinating, and providing strategic direction for PRI’s use of technology.
  • Develop plans and budgets to build PRI’s emerging IT infrastructure to align with PRI’s strategic plan and to support PRI’s scientific research programs that rely on computing and business data infrastructure.
  • Develop and monitor policies and procedures governing internal technology use and purchase, as well as support for the systems within PRI.
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with PRI division managers and other key leaders. Advise and inform leadership on policies and procedures that impact their programs and staff.
  • Provide high-level direction and management for IT projects.
  • In collaboration with the Associate Directors and Survey Directors, identify and meet emerging IT needs and opportunities for faculty and research staff. 
  • In collaboration with the Associate Directors, identify opportunities for IT to increase efficiencies of business processes for administration staff.
  • Responsible for the upkeep and continued development of PRI’s emerging internal information infrastructure from database technologies to the information systems used by scientists, managers and staff to effectively use business data to manage the daily operations of PRI.
  • Provide comprehensive data, workflow analysis and IT capability to assist with decision support, planning, and management of PRI, in collaboration with PRI research, finance, and human resource leadership.
  • Oversee and develop applications in a client/server database environment to meet the needs of PRI administration and principal investigators/scientists.
  • Contribute to the identification and potential solutions to address various scientific data conversions and digitization, archival, storage, and common database needs across the institute.
  • Provide oversight and project planning for CDS and system upgrades.
  • Establish, maintain, and continuously review the internal and external computing systems.

Policy development and management

  • Advise the Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director, Administration, division leaders and managers, serve as a key liaison and subject matter expert on IT strategy development and implementation for PRI.
  • Update and communicate IT procedures and Management Information Systems to improve management and end user understanding of PRI operations.


  • Collaborate with campus on IT infrastructure, follow campus IT policy, and advocate for the IT needs of PRI.
  • Serve on campus committees to improve services for the campus.


  • Direct and lead the PRI CDS unit and provide supervision and training for professional personnel.
  • Oversee day-to-day operations of the IT groups as it relates to upkeep and running of the servers including those that provide 24/7 support for all production services.
  • Collaborate with PRI Finance to develop cost recovery mechanisms for general IT services. Direct and manage the operation of all IT Services and the associated cost recovery programs, including budgeting and planning for staffing and equipment.
  • Provide information and reports required by the university and campus, PRI management, staff, and funding agencies.
  • Develop and revise PRI IT policy and procedures to maintain and improve daily operations within PRI as related to IT Services.
  • Supervise and lead staff to achieve success and foster a culture of innovation and high-level performance at both individual and organizational levels.  This includes task assignment, scheduling, ongoing performance management with coaching and feedback, career development planning, leave/travel approval, as well as conducting annual performance reviews.  
  • Collaborate on and lead the development of grant proposals to obtain additional IT funding.
  • Manage technical staff to assist in projects and provide recommendations on equipment and services required by PRI research projects.


  • Keep abreast of developments in this discipline.
  • Perform other duties as needed in order to further the mission and goals of PRI.


Education: Required: Bachelor’s degree in an IT related field. Alternate degree fields will be considered/accepted depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position.

Experience: Required:  A minimum of 10 years of highly specialized knowledge/experience in an information technology field. A minimum of 5 years of experience in the coordination or management of information technology or information system strategies, policies, and implementation.  A minimum of 5 years of experience collaborating with human resources and/or finance in the development of decision support tools. A minimum of 5 years of experience managing information technology budgets and staff in a scientific and technical academic research environment. A minimum of 5 years of experience and proven ability to develop a cost-effective business model to develop, sustain, and manage a complex IT infrastructure in a scientific research organization. Experience providing decision support tools and analysis to inform evaluation and strategic planning within a research enterprise. Valid Driver’s License

Successful Candidates will also have: Strong analytical, critical thinking, creative problem solving, good judgment, negotiating, influencing, and strategic decision-making skills. Ability to maintain confidentiality, tact, and diplomacy. Exceptional interpersonal skills and understanding of group dynamics.  Successful track record of establishing credibility and trust with a diverse client group, including senior leaders. Demonstrated leadership skills and management.  Effective communication, personal relations, collaboration, organizational, teamwork, and leadership skills. Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities with stringent deadlines, under minimal supervision. Attention to detail, sound judgment, and strong conflict resolution skills. In depth knowledge of the following software: Microsoft Visual Studio including or C#, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Networking including Active Directory and Microsoft Office.  Working knowledge of PHP programming language also desired.

Environmental Demands: The work of this position takes place in an office setting. The work is sedentary and involves remaining in a stationary position for extended periods of time working at a computer, using a keyboard and mouse, and using repetitive hand motions. Light lifting, such as moving computer hardware, may be necessary. Periodic travel to field offices is required. Occasional overnight travel may occur. 

This is a regular full-time academic professional appointment, renewable annually based upon satisfactory progress in the position and continued funding. The starting date is negotiable and salary is commensurate with experience and skills.


If interested in the opportunity to join the PRI team, please complete your candidate profile at and upload a cover letter, CV/resume, and the contact information for three professional references must be received by Thursday, March 3, 2022.  Interviews may be conducted before the closing date; however, no hiring decision will be made until after that date.  All requested information must be submitted for your application to be considered. 

For further information regarding application procedures, you may contact Megan Weeks at or 217-244-4768. 

University of Illinois faculty, staff and students are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are not able to receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons, you may seek approval for an exemption in accordance with applicable University processes.

University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer. Convictions are not a bar to employment. As a qualifying federal contractor, the University of Illinois System uses E-Verify to verify employment eligibility. The University of Illinois System requires candidates selected for hire to disclose any documented finding of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment and to authorize inquiries to current and former employers regarding findings of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. For more information, visit Policy on Consideration of Sexual Misconduct in Prior Employment.

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