Program Officer, Higher Education Initiatives (2-year term)

Overview of ACLS

Formed a century ago, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is a nonprofit federation of 78 scholarly organizations.  As the leading representative of American scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences, ACLS upholds the core principle that knowledge is a public good. In supporting its member organizations, ACLS utilizes its $179 million endowment and $34 million annual operating budget to expand the forms, content, and flow of scholarly knowledge because we value diversity of identity and experience.  We collaborate with institutions, associations, and individuals to strengthen the evolving infrastructure for scholarship.  In all aspects of our work, ACLS is committed to principles and practices in support of racial and social justice.

ACLS’s strategic plan outlines four strategic priorities: encouraging scholars and scholarship responsive to diverse audiences; strengthening relationships among our core constituencies within the academy and our partners beyond the academy; lifting the public profile of humanistic knowledge; and empowering staff and partners to work responsibly and inclusively.

Job Summary

ACLS seeks a Program Officer who can support our work with colleges, universities, and other higher education organizations designing and/or implementing institutional change and reform that show promise of strengthening the humanities and interpretive social sciences. In addition to working on projects, the Program Officer will compile examples of reform initiatives and increase our capacity as a network of networks to share lessons learned. Crucial traits for this role include demonstrated interest in the working of institutions; strong writing and speaking skills; trust building skills; ability both to take the lead in implementing projects and to work as part of a team. This is a two-year term position.

ACLS works with a range of individuals and institutions throughout higher education, including faculty, department chairs, deans, and other administrators; grant-making agencies; research groups; disciplinary and other higher education associations. Prioritized projects include initiatives undertaken in the Luce Design Workshop as well as:

  • Current approaches to improving 1) graduate education, training, mentoring, and preparation for diverse careers, and 2) faculty reward systems, so that they better capture mentoring, DEI work, and the exploration of new research methodologies and formats.
  • Current discipline or program-specific policies that are successfully advancing local change, including efforts to diversify faculty composition and improve curricula at all levels.
  • Identifying the best ways to disseminate recommendations widely with the aim of gaining broad endorsement from scholars, administrators, disciplinary groups, and/or boards.
  • Development, with partners, of improved criteria for peer review and recognition that include contributions to, research collaborations, research integrity, public engagement, broader impacts, and inclusive practices of teaching and mentoring.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to: 

  • Apply a structured methodology and lead change management activities
  • Identify and manage anticipated resistance
  • Support and engage campus teams and other constituencies working on change initiatives
  • Define and measure success metrics and monitor change progress
  • Contribute to the management and reporting of project output and outcome information through a common entry point
  • Construct cases which initiate change, understanding and projecting specific benefits to come from these changes
  • Advise on stakeholder engagement and change program accomplishments as well as determining long term changes to the institutions
  • Communicate results to stakeholders within and outside of the institution
  • Serve as a point of contact for institutional partners


  • PhD in the social sciences or the humanities
  • Understanding of the higher education sector and the dynamics that affect change initiatives
  • Excellent personal organizational and priority-setting skills
  • Experience in monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment and in project management and partnership roles
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including skills in clear writing, dynamic presentation, and active listening
  • Capability both to work independently and with initiative and to be an effective team player
  • Value the sharing of information and continuous improvement in a cooperative atmosphere of constructive evaluation and learning
  • Proactive, self-starting, deadline-oriented, and with strong attention to detail; ability to follow through on multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment
  • Understanding of analytical concepts: hypothesis development, designing tests/experiments, analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and developing actionable recommendations
  • Strong ability to plan and manage numerous processes, people, and projects simultaneously
  • Capacity to build and maintain long term relationships with institutional colleagues 
  • Flexible, resilient, and tenacious; able to work in ambiguous situations
  • Problem solving and root cause identification skills
  • Able to work effectively at all levels in an organization
  • Candidates will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated (including booster) against COVID-19 upon commencing employment. Reasonable accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis for exemptions to this requirement in accordance with applicable law.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Field experience in managing/participating in quantitative evaluations
  • Experience working with and creating databases and dashboards; working with partners to prototype reporting systems and using data and performance metrics to inform key decisions
  • Experience conducting behavioral and institutional studies or knowledge of behavioral statistics
  • Knowledge of faculty productivity measures and systems, in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities 
  • Change management experience, including communications, engagement, behavioral and cultural change
  • Oversight of change management projects, including research, implementation, and assessment
  • Experience working in a multidisciplinary and multicultural environments to solve problems and achieve shared goals
  • Considerable knowledge of higher education policies and procedures; considerable knowledge of principles and techniques of systems analysis

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