At a glance
Location: US-AZ-Tucson Map
Posted: 09/20/2019
Closing: 10/19/2019
Degree: Not Specified
Type: Full-Time
Experience: Not Specified
Job description

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a leading US organization in ground-based, space-based, and solar astronomy, is seeking a Finance and Administrative Division Chief to lead AURA's Central Administrative Services (CAS) Division. The selected individual will build on and enhance a collaborative team for AURA's financial arm through a period of significant change as AURA embarks on an expansive new mission in US astronomy.

AURA is a consortium of 46 US institutions and four international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA's role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the Gemini Observatory, the National Optical Astronomical Observatory (NOAO), the National Solar Observatory (NSO), and the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.

The Finance and Administrative Division Chief is responsible for working with her/his leadership team to develop and execute financial and administrative strategies in support of AURA's NSF funded ground-based astronomical observatories which are being integrated into a new national nighttime ground-based astronomy Center. Combined with the solar and space-based programs run by AURA on behalf of NSF and NASA respectively, the financial portfolio AURA manages totals $180 million for operations in the United States (U.S.) and Chile.   The selected individual will also be responsible for supporting the overall business plan and strategic direction of the organization, specifically in the areas of financial operations; procurement and contracts, financial planning, reporting and analysis; tax and compliance, accounting business systems, and logistics administration.

This position will have the unique opportunity to lead CAS through substantial change at AURA. In collaboration with the NSF, effective October 1, 2019, AURA will integrate the operations in the United States and Chile of the Gemini Observatory, NOAO, and LSST operations into a new organization called the National Center for Optical-Infrared Astronomy (NCOA). NCOA will be the preeminent U.S. facility enabling breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics.

The Finance and Administrative Division Chief will play a key role in ensuring the tools, procedures, and staff to enable NCOA and NSO's financial and administrative success.

The position is based in Tucson, Arizona with occasional travel to Chile and to locations in the U.S.


  • Provide management and leadership to the finance and administrative functions by overseeing the CAS departments of Procurement, Accounting Operations, Financial Reporting, Sponsored Programs Administration, Compliance and Logistics.  The team totals 53 staff across the U.S. and in Chile.
  • Develop and implement a strategic vision and overall plan to support the achievement of the overall business operations objectives.
  • Establish and maintain strong collaborative relationships with senior leaders in the ground-based observatories to identify their needs and deliver a robust range of business and financial solutions.
  • Establish, continuously improve, and direct related processes, procedures and internal controls in compliance with AURA policies, US GAAP, Federal Uniform Guidance, laws, regulations and other industry best practices.
  • Responsible for ensuring financial reporting is adequate, accurate, timely and in compliance with FASB Accounting Standards Codification.
  • Manage AURA's independent audits of financial statements and Federal compliance (Single Audit) for ground-based observatories.  Manage incurred cost, business systems and accounting system audits directed by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • Support forecasting and budget processes for ground-based observatories and the Corporate offices.
  • Establish an environment that recognizes and respects the diverse nature of the workforce and assures fair and inclusive opportunities for all with respect to job assignments, career growth, promotion opportunities and recognition. 
  • Lead cash management processes in compliance with Federal standards, ensuring funds are available to meet operational needs.
  • Develop strong working relationships with staff from the NSF and serve, along with the Corporate Chief Financial Officer, as one of the primary liaisons with external Federal and state government agencies.
  • Continuously analyze and evaluate the services provided by the CAS function to ensure activities achieve and surpass agreed upon levels of service along industry best practices.

Requirements and Qualifications

  • A minimum of eight years of management/leadership experience with an established record of technical expertise and experience in the finance, accounting, procurement and administrative functions. 
  • Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Accounting, Finance or related field.  Advanced degree and CPA strongly preferred.   
  • Broad knowledge of accounting, procurement and information technology functions with a strong knowledge of all aspects of generally accepted accounting principles.
  • Expert experience with Federal awards, Uniform Guidance, and indirect cost proposals.
  • Strategic leader who is well versed leading through change and experienced in a complex operation, matrix environment.
  • A proven leader in Finance and Administrative operations with a strong track record identifying and implementing best practices and utilizing technology to enhance internal controls and create operational efficiencies.
  • Proven record of strong collaboration with a wide variety of administrative, technical and scientific personnel in the accomplishment of organizational goals.
  • Ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.  Fluency in Spanish preferred but not required.
  • Team builder who can effectively identify areas to improve processes, build consensus, and implement solutions.

If you wish to pursue this opportunity, please submit an application containing a resume; information on skills, experience and accomplishments as they relate to the position; a personal statement on diversity and inclusion; and the names of three professional references (PDF files preferred).  Review of the applications will begin on October 4, 2019, and the position will remain open until filled.  Please name any attachments with the following format:  LastnameDocname.  Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [Click Here to Email Your Resumé]

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at