Careers at UMass Amherst

Director of the Center for Agriculture, Food & the Environment and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Agricultural Research & Engagement

Apply now Job no: 522869
Work type: Staff Full Time
Location: UMass Amherst
Department: Center for Agriculture
Union: Non-Unit Exempt
Categories: Faculty, Agriculture/Extension, Leadership, College of Natural Sciences

About UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and offers a rich cultural environment in a bucolic setting close to major urban centers. In addition, the University is part of the Five Colleges (including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), which adds to the intellectual energy of the region.

Located in the historic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts and established in 1863 under the Morrill Land Grant Act, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as an R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research institution and one with an exemplary commitment to Community Engagement. Offering a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees, the 1,200-acre campus serves over 24,000 undergraduate students and 7,800 graduate students in a rich cultural environment. The University of Massachusetts Amherst and CAFE also manages a number of farms, forests, and extension and research facilities in the Pioneer Valley and across Massachusetts.


About the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (CAFE)

The UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) plays a critical role in establishing the long-term value of the modern, land-grant research university. CAFE advances academic research and practical solutions to issues and problems that impact the well-being of people, communities, farms, businesses, and natural systems within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Building on a tradition of leadership and support for Massachusetts’ agriculture, the CAFE’s flexible portfolio of projects, programs, and initiatives seeks to promote academic scholarship and its application and dissemination for broad public benefit in the areas of agriculture, food, and the environment.


Job Description

The University of Massachusetts Amherst invites applications for the Director of the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) and the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Agricultural Research and Engagement. The successful candidate will also serve as Director for both UMass Extension and the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station. The position reports to the Dean, College of Natural Sciences and to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement. The position will include an underlying academic appointment as either a tenure system faculty member or Extension faculty. The academic area of the appointment will be in an area jointly with the CAFE.

CAFE is comprised of UMass Extension, the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, the UMass Cranberry Station, and the Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center. CAFE has made a strategic commitment to a multi-disciplinary approach in which academic research and the resulting scholarship is integrated with educational programs, resources, tools or technologies that meet the needs of citizens, communities, organizations, businesses, government agencies, or policy-makers. This position requires dynamic, transformational leadership to champion the reinvention of the land-grant mission for the 21st century and help position the University of Massachusetts Amherst as the flagship public campus of America’s education state.


Essential Functions

  • Lead CAFE in pioneering a new approach to the land-grant mission of serving the needs of people and communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by advancing and applying scientific research.
  • Foster multi- and interdisciplinary research and educational programs that advance scholarship and address issues of critical public concern.
  • Direct organizational systems and procedures to support fiscal management, program development, program assessment and evaluation, personnel management, and information management and technologies.
  • Shape, support and maintain a framework and a culture of shared leadership and effective communication among internal managers, external stakeholders, and University leaders.
  • Communicate a compelling vision for CAFE to internal and external audiences, in both rural and urban settings.
  • Convene a broad array of internal and external stakeholders to inform program development.
  • Stakeholders include faculty and staff, university administrators, program participants, collaborating local, state, and federal officials, businesses, professional associations, and nongovernmental organizations.
  • Represent UMass Amherst to the USDA, in interactions with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), and in appropriate regional and national professional groups.
  • Direct and oversee externally focused initiatives and procedures to support communications and marketing, public accountability, organizational advocacy, and resource development.
  • Contribute to the evaluation of Extension Faculty annually and for promotion.



The successful candidate must have an established record of executive leadership in a public or private setting related to agriculture, food, or the environment; significant experience in programmatic leadership; and a track record of developing fiscal and management systems for progressive change. The candidate should be able to provide leadership for the development of innovative, entrepreneurial, academic, and educational activities.


  • Doctoral degree in a natural science, agricultural science, public policy, public health, or education.
  • Four (4) or more years of relevant academic leadership and management in work related to agricultural, food, or environmental issues.
  • Four (4) or more years of experience in fiscal and personnel management.
  • Strong demonstrated abilities as a successful communicator, including experience dealing with sensitive public issues in on- and off-campus settings.
  • Prior experience in or knowledge of land-grant universities and extension programs.


Preferred Qualifications

  • Entrepreneurial track record.
  • Prior experience in higher education and basic and applied research.
  • Record of innovative program development and revenue generation.
  • Experience in disciplinary or professional roles that cross traditional boundaries between agricultural, food, and environmental areas.


Application Instructions

Along with the application, please submit a cover letter, current curriculum vitae, a one (1) page statement of the candidate’s vision of research and educational outreach within a land grant university, a one (1) page statement of the candidate’s administrative philosophy, a Diversity Statement (see below), and contact information for three (3) professional references.

The preferred starting date for this position is January 1, 2025, or sooner. Start date can be discussed with the finalist.

As part of a commitment to their own multicultural community, CNS seeks an individual with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and one who will understand and embrace university initiatives and aspirations. In addition to the application materials above, candidates will need to submit a Statement of Contribution to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The Diversity Statement should identify past experiences and future goals. These contributions may result from lived experiences, scholarships, and/or mentoring, teaching, and outreach activities.


The University is committed to active recruitment of a diverse faculty and student body. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer of women, minorities, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities and encourages applications from these and other protected group members. Because broad diversity is essential to an inclusive climate and critical to the University’s goals of achieving excellence in all areas, we will holistically assess the many qualifications of each applicant and favorably consider an individual’s record working with students and colleagues with broadly diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds in educational, research or other work activities. We will also favorably consider experience overcoming or helping others overcome barriers to an academic career and degree.

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Applications close: Eastern Daylight Time

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