The Pennsylvania State University - Director, Artificial Intelligence Initiative

PA, University Park

The Pennsylvania State University seeks a visionary and exceptionally collaborative leader to serve as the inaugural director of its Artificial Intelligence Initiative. Applications, inquiries, and nominations are invited.   

Penn State is continuing to develop broadly interdisciplinary capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI), where researchers are tackling exceptionally difficult challenges, ranging from fundamental research to application, and within a research environment known for interdisciplinary excellence. Penn State has created a culture of collaboration that is unrivaled, one that motivates novel team science for innovation and impact.

Penn State’s strong multi-disciplinary research base in artificial intelligence spans machine learning and expert systems, computational social science, and policy, covering the gamut of fundamental discoveries to translational applications. Penn State’s current application areas include radiation oncology, protein translation, human disorders, ethics, transportation, energy, cyber, national security, and more. The opportunity to develop solutions for societal challenges are unbounded.

The director will catalyze university-wide interdisciplinary research for innovation in the broad area of artificial intelligence. The faculty seek a colleague who will connect investigators from diverse backgrounds and unite them in pursuing novel research directions, which will simultaneously advance the field of AI research while increasing recognition of Penn State as a leading university in AI. The new director will help define and create a national identity for interdisciplinary AI research excellence at Penn State and strengthen its reputation. The selected candidate will have the opportunity to engage with donors, sponsors, and outreach activities to grow AI at Penn State more broadly.

The AI director will report to the director of the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS) with a secondary reporting relationship to the director of the Social Sciences Research Institute (SSRI), recognizing that AI impacts people, and therefore, that the human dimension of AI should be central to AI research and innovations. Additional oversight will be provided by the Senior Vice President for Research to whom the ICDS and SSRI directors report. This structure will provide the director with administrative and staff support from within the Institutes, and allow the Initiative to have visibility at the highest levels within the University. It also provides a unique opportunity to create programs and research directions at the boundaries of disciplines, capturing diverse perspectives and ensuring the benefits of AI reach across all aspects of society. Penn State consistently ranks among the nation’s top 25 public research universities, with fiscal year 2020 research expenditures exceeding $1 billion.

Penn State is a public, land grant, research-intensive university with campuses and facilities throughout Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855, the University has a threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service. Its instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional, and continuing education offered through resident instruction and online delivery. Annual enrollment at its 24 campuses totals more than 100,000 graduate and undergraduate students, making it one of the largest universities in the United States.  

The future director will possess broad intellectual capacities, strong scholarly credentials, leadership expertise and experience, and exceptional communication and interpersonal skills to actualize a compelling vision and plan for the future of AI research at Penn State. The successful candidate will have a Ph.D. in data science, information technology, computer science, engineering, mathematics, or closely related fields. Candidates from other fields and or professional backgrounds (e.g. government, industry) with relevant academic credentials and substantial experience and technical expertise in AI will also be considered. U.S. citizenship is required.

WittKieffer is assisting Penn State in this search. All applications, nominations, and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in the leadership profile. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by May 28, 2021 and submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal, using the buttons below.

Please direct nominations and inquiries to the WittKieffer consultants supporting this search: Suzanne Teer and Jessica Herrington at

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Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.

Employment with the University will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies.