Director – Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Santa Cruz, California

Summary of Position      

The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) is seeking an experienced leader to serve as the next Director of the Seymour Marine Discovery Center (SMDC). SMDC, whose mission is to educate “people about the role scientific research plays in the understanding and conservation of the world’s oceans,” serves as the public outreach arm of UCSC’s Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) and a bridge between UCSC and the surrounding community.

SMDC is experiencing a moment of renewal after a period of internal analysis. As part of that analysis, SMDC underwent an in-depth organizational assessment that identified SMDC’s strengths and central challenges; the resulting recommendations position SMDC for future growth and change.

The next SMDC Director will build upon the organization’s significant strengths while providing a new vision for the future that will grow and deepen visitor engagement, strengthen ties to UCSC administration and students, and ensure long-term financial sustainability.

About SMDC                    

SMDC serves as the outreach and public education component of IMS at UCSC. SMDC is charged with educating people of all ages about marine science research and ocean conservation. Its overarching goal is to instill in its visitors a deep and lasting appreciation of the role research plays in understanding and protecting the world’s oceans and coasts.

SMDC consists of a 17,500-square-foot facility with additional outdoor features on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean located on the UCSC Coastal Campus. Its exhibits focus on research conducted by scientists at UCSC. In FY19, the Seymour Center had approximately 65,000 visitors, including nearly 9,000 students, teachers, and adult chaperones from transitional kindergarten through community college participating in educational programs grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards. In FY19, the center’s operating budget was $1.4 million with a staff of almost 20 FTEs and 250 active volunteers.

About Santa Cruz and UCSC                         

UCSC is located in Santa Cruz County at the north end of Monterey Bay on the Central California Coast, approximately 75 miles south of San Francisco, 32 miles east of San Jose, and 35 miles north of Monterey. Santa Cruz County has a population of more than 260,000 and is known for its moderate climate and natural environment, including its coastline with 29 miles of beaches, surrounding mountains, and redwood forests.

UCSC is committed to serving a student body and hiring faculty and staff who reflect the diversity of the State of California; responding to the needs of a diverse society; and to maintaining principles of equity and inclusion. UCSC has earned national distinction as a university with high-impact research and a commitment to teaching and public service. The campus has world-class facilities and one of the most visually spectacular settings in higher education. Commitment to environmental stewardship and community engagement are central to UCSC’s core values. Over 19,100 students pursue course work in 66 undergraduate majors in the arts, engineering, humanities, physical and biological sciences and social sciences; and 40 academic programs for graduate students.


The Director reports to the Dean, Physical and Biological Sciences Division (PBSCI), and has full administrative authority and responsibility as the chief executive officer of SMDC. Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Serving as a highly visible leader, spokesperson, and advocate for SMDC, and an effective bridge between UCSC and the surrounding community
  • Initiating and implementing a strategic plan, resulting in renewed vision, mission, and priorities for SMDC
  • Shaping the direction of SMDC programming and ensuring it reflects the evolving needs of both UCSC and the public
  • Directing SMDC in keeping with UCSC’s mission of public service, teaching, and research
  • Maintaining close collaborative relationships with UCSC leadership, including IMS, PBSCI, and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor 
  • Building connections with UCSC faculty and integrating relevant research into the SMDC visitor experience in compelling and contemporary ways
  • Providing direction and leadership to the SMDC staff in support of the organization’s mission, vision, and goals; ensuring a supportive work environment
  • Working with and supporting a large, well-trained volunteer group to implement SMDC’s education vision
  • Developing, managing, and growing the annual operating budget to effectively support SMDC’s operations and programming
  • Diversifying sources of revenue by increasing contributed revenue and evaluating earned income potential in support of operating and programming goals
  • Working closely with the Friends of the Seymour Marine Discovery Center Board of Directors to enhance their role in support of SMDC
  • Building awareness of SMDC through effective marketing and outreach
  • Implementing the re-opening of SMDC’s facility to the public when public health directives and UCSC policies allow

Ideal Candidate Characteristics                 

The ideal candidate will possess the following:

  • Demonstrated ability to effectively lead and manage a self-funded, mission-based organization or center
  • Deep knowledge of museum practices and standards
  • Record of success in financial management, fundraising, community relations, marketing, and Board development
  • Ability to work collaboratively and productively with professional staff, volunteers, and constituents to foster a positive and cooperative work environment, and enhance SMDC’s profile on- and off-campus to enhance the center’s impact
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and collaborative leadership
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively with diverse groups
  • Ability to establish and cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships that will enhance SMDC’s impact
  • A core commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Experience in strategic planning


A minimum four to six years of leadership and management experience in progressively more responsible positions in a nonprofit or museum setting. Possession of a Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience is required; a Master’s degree in a related field is preferred.         


Compensation will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. An attractive benefits package will also be provided.

Application Procedure     The search process for the SMDC Director position is being led by Museum Management Consultants, Inc. (MMC). Individuals applying for this position must submit a letter of interest and resume to UCSC using this link (please note, the official UCSC job description is posted at this location). MMC will follow up with applicants directly after submission of materials.

Position is open until filled

Categories: Job Postings