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Executive Director

Museum Search & Reference
Eugene, Oregon
Closing date
Apr 22, 2023

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Position Type
Executive / President
Cultural Anthropology
Full Time
Organization Type
Level of Experience

Job Details

The Museum of Natural and Cultural History (MNCH) at the University of Oregon (UO) is a center for research, curates important and diverse collections, and offers wide-ranging and innovative exhibits and public programs. Officially created in 1935-36 as the Oregon State Museum of Anthropology and Museum of Natural History, the Museum has its roots in the late 1800s, when geologist Thomas Condon joined the University of Oregon as one of its first three professors and brought his extensive fossil collection to UO. Through the decades its anthropological, archaeological, paleontological, geological, and zoological collections have grown through scientific efforts, legal mandates, and private gifts. Recent directors have been archaeologists, including the current executive director who is retiring after a successful 18-year tenure highlighted by dramatic growth in facilities, programs, and endowments for education, research, and collections. Fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the Museum now employs more than 60 full- and part-time staff members who operate the Museum with a budget of $1.2 million in general fund support from the University, with an additional $1-2 million in recurring contracts and philanthropic funds. Successfully emerging from a retraction brought on by COVID and the coincidental retirement of some long-term staff, the Museum continues to conduct and publish research, mount new exhibits, and sustain vibrant academic and community programming. Leaders have begun planning a new facility to expand and consolidate museum operations. Thus, the Museum is poised to grow its impact at the University and beyond.


MNCH seeks an Executive Director at an exciting moment, to establish a new strategic vision and bring the Museum’s varied programs and services into a cohesive whole, under one roof, and working together.




  • Play a key role in the development of a new strategic plan. Lead a dedicated, skilled staff who are eager to build on progress and increase the Museum’s impact. Leverage opportunities for new revenue streams by responding to increased demand for the Museum’s archaeological, historic preservation, and curatorial services. Advance MNCH’s fundraising from the current, sound base of private donors, to new supporters who can provide expanded funding for facilities, programs, and endowments. Use the expertise of curators and staff to demonstrate the scope and depth of the Museum’s considerable assets to enhance established connections, attract new faculty, and enrich UO student experiences.



  • Unify MNCH staff and operations—both physically and through shared purpose— housed in various campus locations.
  • Reconcile differing ideas about the nature and scale of a new, unifying facility; build supportive consensus, and secure funding. Grow into a more vital role as an academic partner within the University and as a statewide resource, generating increased visibility and support.

Candidate Profile


The new Executive Director will be agile and creative, bringing a strategic approach that recognizes what has worked well, while committing new energy that will adapt the Museum for the next generation of opportunities and challenges. The Executive Director could be an academic or former academic but must have expertise in at least one of the Museum’s research areas. It is vital that they understand how collections and archives should be properly managed, stored, and used in accordance with current best curatorial practices and legal and ethical standards. They should have experience running a museum or equivalent organization with diverse subject areas, research objectives, and service elements. The successful Executive Director will apply big-picture leadership and management skills to increase communication and integration within the Museum and across the University, raise awareness throughout Oregon, and where appropriate, facilitate coordination and collaboration in pursuit of common goals. The Executive Director will support staff members and hold them accountable, while delegating operational oversight to effective managers. They will build on established relationships with University faculty and administrators to continue to align the Museum with University goals. The new Executive Director will listen, learn, and engage fully with indigenous Tribes and communities who have been historically under-represented in museums. An effective advocate, the Executive Director, who report to the University’s Provost and Executive Vice President, will work with University administration and elected officials to showcase the Museum’s value and leverage new support. The Executive Director will be authentic in their approach to working with people from all backgrounds and ideologies, able to garner private support through effective cultivation of individuals, businesses, and foundations. The Museum has historically attracted major funding, and raising funds will be an important priority.




  • Lead strategic direction of an organization with six divisions encompassing a variety of research, programming, and services. Align resources to meet academic, curatorial, and community-focused initiatives and evaluate progress toward strategic goals. Articulate and be accountable to the highest standard of museum ethics in research, the acquisition and curation of natural history specimens and cultural objects, the representation of peoples and cultures, and the accessibility and inclusivity of programs and resources. Lead and manage recruitment, engagement, and retention of staff and advisory council members. Oversee fiscal management to ensure effective budgeting and use of resources, and timely, accurate reporting to University administrators and supporters. Advocate on behalf of the Museum to University administration, elected officials, and other stakeholders. Maintain and build on successful collaborative relationships with indigenous Tribes. Cultivate and solicit private donations and participate in donor stewardship in collaboration with University Advancement personnel. Plan for facilities consolidation and expansion in cooperation with University administration.



  • Advanced degree in a field related to the role is required. A terminal degree is preferred. Five+ years of experience successfully managing a complex museum or other cultural, educational, or research organization, possibly a department within a large museum, preferably within the context of a university. Extensive knowledge that corresponds to the Museum’s content specialties. Demonstrated excellence in resource management, leadership, supervisory, and problem-solving skills, with clear measures of success. Demonstrated success securing major gifts from individuals, businesses, foundations, and agencies. Understanding of the complex issues around accessibility, equity, inclusion, and diversity in the museum setting and experience implementing strategies to effectively confront historical inequities.  Ability and enthusiasm for being public face and a relationship builder for the Museum. Commitment to partnering with Tribal nations and Indigenous communities is required; experience developing relationships with Tribal nations is preferred.



To apply: email cover letter and résumé or CV and names of 3 references with contact information by April 21, 2023, to: Scott Stevens, Senior Search Consultant at: References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant, and all applications and nominations are kept confidential. Applicants are encouraged to apply early as candidates will be considered on a rolling basis. For full details, visit Nominations and inquiries welcome.



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