Associate Director, Pre-Award Contract Negotiator - Office of Research Services - Tenders Global

Associate Director, Pre-Award Contract Negotiator – Office of Research Services

University of Pennsylvania

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn’s distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning. As an employer Penn has been ranked nationally on many occasions with the most recent award from Forbes who named Penn one of America’s Best Large Employers in 2023.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

Posted Job Title

Associate Director, Pre-Award Contract Negotiator – Office of Research Services

Job Profile Title

Associate Director, Research Services

Job Description Summary

The Associate Director promotes the Office of Research Service’s mission of providing excellent customer service for research projects with an overall focus on high levels of quality of work and departmental interaction. Pre-Award services at Penn is managed via a dynamic team approach.
The Associate Director (AD) will work within the Pre-Award team to ensure timely and accurate service in hands-on and detailed contract negotiation for a range of sponsor agencies, research activities, and award requirements, including both funded and ancillary nonmonetary research agreements.
The role is integrated into the Pre-Award team, and proactively collaborates and partners with various ORS teams, departments and leaders across the University. The role will receive training, orientation and onboarding to understand all Pre-Award roles, services, programs and contractual standards and expectations and to serve as supplementary reviewer of sponsored research proposals on occasion and as needed by the ORS team and Penn partners.
Serve as point of contact for sponsoring agencies, and work with departments, schools, and centers to ensure timely negotiation, execution and establishment of awards, agreements, and amendments to projects. Serve as a knowledge resource on federal sponsor policies. Provide action-oriented support to Principal Investigators (PIs) and handle specific grant agreement issues with confidentiality and integrity. In collaboration with Pre-Award leadership, manage a wide range of complex operational and administrative matters and understand the organization and functions of academic departments, organizational research units, and other campus units involved in research administration.
The Associate Director will ensure that proposals and agreements conform to external regulatory requirements and University academic policies and administrative standards.
In the Division of Finance, we recognize diversity and inclusion is paramount to a positive and thriving work environment; it is a business imperative. We are committed to actively fostering diversity, inclusion and cultural competency throughout our operational efforts in the Division of Finance. This role will be critical in supporting those efforts and demonstrating behaviors and competencies that reflect Penn’s values.
We take pride in the myriad ways that diversity enriches our curriculum, and the cultural and social life of our campus. Penn’s commitment to achieving eminence through diversity is ultimately a commitment to creating a more vibrant university so that our graduates will be both stimulated and empowered to shape a better world.

Job Description

Job Responsibilities

Agreement and Contract Negotiation:

  • Serve as the primary negotiator and an authorized signatory for the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania on matters related to research agreements, including  federal, other governmental, and non-profit sponsors and foundations. Responsible for binding the University to terms and conditions for funded research grants, contracts and ancillary agreements. Collaborates with contract administrators and provides guidance on terms and conditions for subawards and non-monetary agreements.

  • Use professional judgement and critical thinking skills to review, analyze and negotiate contractual documents ensuring that all terms and conditions are acceptable and are in standards with Office of Research and overall Penn policies and procedures.

  • Employ professional judgment and sound decision-making skills to negotiate terms and conditions with sponsors based on university policies and under the supervision and partnership of the ORS leadership team.

Sponsor Communications:

  • Communicates with external funding sponsors as an authorized organizational representative with the authority to bind the institution in matters related to research.

  • Maintains current working knowledge of federal regulations and sponsor policies to ensure the responsible conduct of research at Penn and advise faculty and departmental administrative staff accordingly.

Internal Communication and Relationship Management:

  • Coordinates with faculty and departmental administrators to help maintain currency on sponsor requirements. Communicates with department/school business administrators and grant managers to ensure service needs are met. Addresses concerns or needs of assigned divisions and departments.

  • Collaborates with internal team of pre-award colleagues to guide proposal preparation and submission Assist the proposal development team with proposal submissions as needed.

Professional Development:

  • Serves as a content knowledge expert to colleagues as a member of the Pre-Award team. Contribute to developing and provide feedback on professional development and training materials to meet those needs in a variety of formats . Assist with ensuring that training materials and content are maintained and consistent with federal, city, state and sponsor compliance requirements.

Compliance Coordination:

  • Consults with units within Office of Research Services as needed to manage sponsor requirements related to regulatory compliance (ex: verifying training compliance FCOI, verifying animal care protocol compliance)

  • Other duties and responsibilities as assigned.


  • Bachelor of Science and 5-7 years of experience or equivalent combination of education and experience is required.

  • Advanced degree in law, contract negotiation or related field preferred.

  • Previous Pre-Award experience working with federal/nonprofit grants/contracts required.

  • Strong organizational skills required.

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills required.

  • Ability to work independently, under the pressure of deadlines, demonstrate attention to detail and a proactive work style.

  • Experience with non-federal sponsors and University guidelines/policies is strongly preferred.

  • Work effectively in a highly matrixed and decentralized environment with the ability to navigate through ambiguity and demonstrate appreciation and support for diversity, inclusion and belonging in a constantly evolving academic/higher education environment.

Please include a cover letter and resume with your online submission. The expected target salary for this role is between $80,000 – $110,000 based on the relevent experience, skills and overall qualifications of the candidate for the role.

Job Location – City, State

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School

Division of Finance

Pay Range

Salary offers are made based on the candidate’s qualifications, experience, skills, and education as they directly relate to the requirements of the position, as well as internal and market factors and grade profile. 

Affirmative Action Statement 
Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements 
Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

University Benefits

  • Health, Life, and Flexible Spending Accounts: Penn offers comprehensive medical, prescription, behavioral health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits to protect you and your family’s health and welfare. You can also use flexible spending accounts to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.

  • Tuition: Take advantage of Penn’s exceptional tuition benefits. You, your spouse, and your dependent children can get tuition assistance here at Penn. Your dependent children are also eligible for tuition assistance at other institutions.

  • Retirement: Penn offers generous retirement plans to help you save for your future. Penn’s Basic, Matching, and Supplemental retirement plans allow you to save for retirement on a pre-tax or Roth basis. Choose from a wide variety of investment options through TIAA and Vanguard.

  • Time Away from Work: Penn provides you with a substantial amount of time away from work during the course of the year. This allows you to relax, take vacations, attend to personal affairs, recover from illness or injury, spend time with family—whatever your personal needs may be.

  • Long-Term Care Insurance: In partnership with Genworth Financial, Penn offers faculty and staff (and your eligible family members) long-term care insurance to help you cover some of the costs of long-term care services received at home, in the community or in a nursing facility. If you apply when you’re newly hired, you won’t have to provide proof of good health or be subject to underwriting requirements. Eligible family members must always provide proof of good health and are subject to underwriting.

  • Wellness and Work-life Resources: Penn is committed to supporting our faculty and staff as they balance the competing demands of work and personal life. That’s why we offer a wide variety of programs and resources to help you care for your health, your family, and your work-life balance.

  • Professional and Personal Development: Penn provides an array of resources to help you advance yourself personally and professionally.

  • University Resources: As a member of the Penn community, you have access to a wide range of University resources as well as cultural and recreational activities. Take advantage of the University’s libraries and athletic facilities, or visit our arboretum and art galleries. There’s always something going on at Penn, whether it’s a new exhibit at the Penn Museum, the latest music or theater presentation at the Annenberg Center, or the Penn Relays at Franklin Field to name just a few examples. As a member of the Penn community, you’re right in the middle of the excitement—and you and your family can enjoy many of these activities for free.

  • Discounts and Special Services: From arts and entertainment to transportation and mortgages, you’ll find great deals for University faculty and staff. Not only do Penn arts and cultural centers and museums offer free and discounted admission and memberships to faculty and staff. You can also enjoy substantial savings on other goods and services such as new cars from Ford and General Motors, cellular phone service plans, movie tickets, and admission to theme parks.

  • Flexible Work Hours: Flexible work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal commitments. These approaches involve use of non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures.

  • Penn Home Ownership Services: Penn offers a forgivable loan for eligible employees interested in buying a home or currently residing in West Philadelphia, which can be used for closing costs or home improvements.

  • Adoption Assistance: Penn will reimburse eligible employees on qualified expenses in connection with the legal adoption of an eligible child, such as travel or court fees, for up to two adoptions in your household.

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