Director of Data Science & Decision Support

Michigan, United States

Full Time Senior-level / Expert USD 114K to 124K
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University of Michigan
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How to Apply: 

A cover letter is required for consideration and must be attached as the first page of your resume.

The University of Michigan Development Community is committed to attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse and thriving workforce, and demonstrating respect and inclusivity for all.

To be considered for this position, apply directly here:

 To learn more about our development community, including other opportunities, visit:

Note: Currently, all interviews are being conducted virtually. In addition, while work arrangements are flexible with regard to work location, all new employees are expected to be in commutable distance to campus, unless stated otherwise in the job posting.

Market Title: Statistician Lead (100927)

Working Title: Director of Data Science & Decision Support

Reports to: Assistant Vice President - Development Services & Strategic Solutions

Supervises directly: Data Analyst(s) Data Engineer(s)

Position summary:

The Director of Data Science & Decision Support oversees the daily operations and vision planning of the Data Science & Decision Support program. The Director leads the team’s mission to build a data science and artificial intelligence-driven decision engine that provides reliable and timely high-level insights supporting the strategic planning and operational effectiveness of key fundraising programs, including annual, major, principal, and planned giving, as well as marketing. Specifically, the Director of Data Science & Decision Support studies internal and external data and employs data mining, machine learning, and statistical analysis techniques to help identify, classify, understand and cultivate prospects capable of making philanthropic contributions to the University of Michigan as well as to provide assessments of program effectiveness. Additionally, the Director plays a senior role within the Development Services and Strategic Solutions leadership team.

Characteristic Duties and Responsibilities:

Data Science & Decision Support Program Leadership (40%)

● Assist the Assistant Vice President - Development Services & Strategic Solutions with the development, implementation, and management of a comprehensive Data Science program, providing data-driven intelligence to aid in determining University-wide and unit fundraising goals. Provide vision, strategic direction, and ongoing administration.

● Devise and develop machine learning and artificial intelligence-based data products for senior leadership and the development community to improve the efficiency of fundraising and marketing strategies.

● Lead efforts to collaboratively work with all University staff (inside and outside development) as an internal consultant to define quantitative analytics needs and guide team to meet those needs.

● Work with the AVP of DS3 to actively seek and collect marketing and benchmarking data that supports the business processes/outcomes of U-M’s fundraising efforts.

● Supervise and train Data Science and Data Engineering staff. Oversee and coordinate collaborative interdepartmental advanced analytics projects within the Office of University Development (OUD). Updated 8/31/2021 1

● Help lead collaboration efforts with marketing, annual giving, and major gift fundraisers to offer decision and data support and to promote the cultivation of prospects at the appropriate levels and through the appropriate channels.

● Actively seek and collect benchmarking data from peers and industry sources that supports the business processes/outcomes of U-M’s fundraising efforts.

● Lead efforts to promote and support data-driven decision making within the development community.

● Serve as a senior member of the Development Services and Strategic Solutions team. Serve on internal committees and attend relevant meetings, as needed.

● Lead efforts to plan and set Analytics Department goals that assist in meeting DS3’s overall strategic plan. Participate in efforts to tie Analytics and to DS3 and OUD’s strategic plans.

● Lead efforts to position the Data Science & Decision Support team as an industry leader and work to build collaborative partnerships with peers that allow us to collectively identify, inform, and solve strategic problems that face our institutions.

Modeling, Statistical Analysis, and Fundraising Strategies (20%)

  • Use software tools (Excel, PowerPoint, R, Tableau, SQL Server, Python, Spark, and Databricks, among others) to analyze and present the data analysis relative to specific development -related needs. Techniques used include regression, classification, segmentation, text mining (sentiment analysis, stemming, and topic modeling), clustering, social network analysis, and association rules mining.

  • Work with department colleagues in major giving, annual giving, planned giving, marketing, and school, college and unit partners, in developing fundraising strategies, including filling the major gift pipeline, portfolio optimization, efficient staffing, and donor acquisition, targeting, and retention. Develop propensity and predictive behavioral models to help develop engagement strategies.

  • Gather and segment large datasets for the purposes of classifying and refining constituent pools for fundraising activities. Identify overall trends and patterns in giving, volunteerism, and event participation and search for explanations and underlying causes.

  • Summarize information and share results through written reports, maps, charts, graphs and presentations using the best practices of persuasive data visualization.

  • Participate in market research, data mining and modeling activities to determine trends and provide increased understanding and hypothesis testing of patterns in alumni and donor behavior, identifying and forecasting growth opportunities and addressing challenges.

Systems Analysis and Development (10%)

  • Manage development of user-friendly data products by creating wireframes and prototypes. Work with OUD Development Services to develop these data products following best practices in software development.

  • Use a working knowledge of current technologies for "big data" (Microsoft Azure, Spark, Databricks, etc.) and stay up-to-date with new and developing technologies.

  • Use tools such as regular expressions, web APIs, and scripting languages (e.g., Python) to develop custom programs for scraping, cleaning, and standardizing unstructured sources of data such as websites, text documents, and entity relationships.

Data Acquisition and Management and Information Retrieval (10%)

  • Work with DS3 teams, and other relevant University and external data and business intelligence resources, to obtain data sources needed for market analysis and strategic planning projects. Participate in the identification, evaluation, and selection of vendors of demographic data and wealth or interest screening services. Coordinate efforts to acquire and append demographic, marketing, predictive modeling, and affinity screening data from data providers/vendors to enhance analysis and segmentation.

  • Leverage available data sources and retrieve and append data from various data sources such as electronic screening services, census records, surveys, focus groups, demographic studies, and marketing data.

Strategy Development (10%)

  • Assist the AVP of DS3 in the development of strategies to maximize the usage of data by the development community.

  • Working with the OUD Leadership Team members and development teams in OUD and across campus, identify specific fundraising issues for review and analysis and develop solutions.

  • Assume primary responsibility for assessing and meeting the prospect identification and information needs of a specifically assigned portfolio of development officers, schools, colleges and units, helping them meet fundraising goals. Initiate regular communications with these individuals, keeping informed about their current fundraising initiatives.

Knowledge Building and Management (5%)

  • Stay abreast of current and emerging trends in philanthropy, fundraising, higher education, business intelligence, data science, and artificial intelligence; communicate to department and senior leadership as appropriate.

Perform other duties as assigned (5%)

Required Qualifications*

  • Master's degree or equivalent combination of education and experience required, with demonstrated competencies in data analysis, business intelligence, applied marketing research, sales or marketing analysis, social science research or similar fields.

  • Minimum of 5 or more years of prospect research, development, fundraising, and market research or relevant experience. Preference given to candidates with understanding of and competency with the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) Advanced Skill Sets.

  • Proven research and analytical techniques, emphasizing the ability to evaluate and summarize complex sets of data from multiple sources and present information in a clear manner in multiple settings, to audiences of varying backgrounds.

  • Expert level fluency in computer technologies, including high level of proficiency and understanding with data management, data mining, machine learning and statistical software tools (Excel, PowerPoint, R, Tableau, SQL Server, Python, Spark, and Databricks, among others). Knowledge of current technologies for "big data" (Microsoft Azure, Spark, Databricks, etc.) and their applications to advanced analytics pipelines, data engineering, and the construction of data lakes. Proficiency with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database software programs a must. Experience in SQL programming and reporting using MS-SQL Server or related experience a must.

  • Supervisory experience required; ability to mentor and train others; willingness to share skills and techniques with peers and colleagues.

  • A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

*Additional responsibilities and qualifications are listed in the full job description, please click here to learn more.

Additional Information

For additional information about this position and to review other current openings in Development, please visit our website at:

Application Deadline

Although the Posting End Date may indicate otherwise, this job may be filled and closed anytime after a posting duration of seven calendar days.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

U-M COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

COVID-19 vaccinations are now required for all University of Michigan students, faculty and staff across all three campuses, including Michigan Medicine, by the start of the fall term on August 30, 2021.  This includes those working or learning remotely.  More information on this policy is available on the Campus Blueprint website or the U-M Dearborn and U-M Flint websites.

Job region(s): North America
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