Job description for Directors of Institutes

The role of a Director of Institute is to promote excellent research in his/her Institute.

The role of a director

This role includes the following:

  • Leading the Institute's research by example and encouragement and by identifying new research opportunities
  • Taking an active interest in the research work of the members of the Institute
  • Creating the conditions for the pursuit of excellent research
  • Refining and developing the research focus and agenda of the Institute
  • Presenting the research of the Institute, both verbally and in writing, to a wider audience both within and outwith the School and University, especially to funding agencies and industrial collaborators

Creating the right conditions

An Institute should provide the infrastructure for the pursuit of individual and collaborative research. These might include: seminar series; technical report series; research equipment; social events; annual reports; web pages. The Director, in collaboration with other members of the Institute, should identify what infrastructure is required and work with School support staff and Institute members to ensure that it is put in place.

The Director should encourage Institute members to apply for research funding and to supervise student projects. S/he can expect the grant portfolio manager(s) managing the Institute grant portfolio(s) to take a proactive role in helping to identify the funding needs of Institute members, matching them to funding sources, and assisting grant applicants in the preparation of their grant proposals including the preparation of costings and the financial parts of grant proposals. The Director can also expect the Graduate School to take a proactive role in seeking postgraduate students and matching applicants to supervisors.

The Director should encourage members of the Institute to publish their research in high quality journals and conferences. S/he should encourage members to collaborate with top ranked researchers both within and outwith the School and University and with academia and industry. S/he should encourage the transfer of the Institute's research results to industry and to the teaching of the School and other bodies. S/he should encourage the recruitment of staff whose research is of the highest possible quality.

Administrative matters

The Director should work with the administrative staff associated with the Institute, especially the grant portfolio manager(s), to do the administrative tasks associated with managing the Institute. However, it will be necessary for her/him to specify the administrative tasks required by the Institute and to be kept informed about progress on them. In particular, the Director's approval will be required for various matters directly related to the Institute, eg grant proposals, purchase orders, contracts, expenses claims, absence requests, etc. S/he should expect the cases for and against giving such approvals to be presented in succinct form by the administrative support. In this way the Director's workload should be minimized. School administrative staff will do the detailed monitoring of financial parts of grants, budgets, purchase orders, contracts, expense claims, absence requests, etc.

The Institute will also be served by the Graduate School on the publicity for; recruitment of; financial support for; basic training of; monitoring of; and examination of postgraduate research students. The Director and other postgraduate supervisors in the Institute can expect the Graduate School to collate and present information in a succinct form to minimize the workload for making decisions on recruitment, financing and supervision of postgraduate students.

Wider role within the school

The Institute may be represented on a number of School wide committees and working parties. Wherever appropriate, the Director should delegate these committee representations to other members of the Institute. This is not only to reduce the Director's workload but also to involve a wide cross-section of the Institute in the decision making processes of the School.

Institute representatives should seek the views of Institute members on the major policy issues to be addressed. S/he should present the views and interests of the Institute to the decision making bodies so that an informed decision can be taken. However, these representatives are part of a collegiate School of Informatics decision making process. This means that they must sometimes support a decision which is not in the immediate interest of their Institute because it has been agreed to be in the wider interest of the School. They have a duty to explain to their Institute the reasons behind the School decision.

Things not to do

Directors of Institutes are not Heads of Departments. They are not line managers of support staff. They are not responsible for the direction of teaching. They are not responsible for dealing with the requests for information, etc which are directed to Heads of School and Planning Units from Faculty, University and other national and international bodies, except where this pertains directly to their Institute's research. The School has set up alternative structures for dealing with all these things. If Directors receive requests to deal with any of these matters (in their capacity as Directors of Institutes) they should (a) forward the request to the appropriate body and (b) ensure that the requester is informed as to where to direct such future enquiries.

Of course, a Director may be responsible for some of these things when wearing some other School hat.