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Brown University, a private coeducational research university and member of the Association of American Universities, seeks a bold, accomplished, and strategic leader to serve as Assistant Vice President of Employee and Labor Relations. This newly elevated role entails leadership and oversight in all matters of employee and labor relations across the University.

The Position

Reporting to the Vice President of Human Resources, the Assistant Vice President of Employee and Labor Relations (“AVP”) will plan and manage Brown University’s labor and employee relations programs in support of the university’s commitment to maintaining a positive, productive, supportive workplace for all employees and student employees at Brown. The AVP will provide guidance and coaching to other senior officers, University Human Resources staff, department managers, and local supervisors and Human Resources representatives regarding labor and employee relations issues at all levels, and will provide leadership on the development and application of Human Resources policies, the negotiation and administration of collective bargaining agreements, and compliance with applicable employment and labor laws and regulations. In addition, the AVP will work with UHR and campus partners to create and sustain an effective and efficient student-employment model that holistically promotes positive experiences and outcomes for our students (unionized and non-unionized) at Brown and that supports the University’s belief that employment experiences are an additive part of student learning.

Additionally, the AVP will advance the work of the Performance Management Enhancement Committee, which has been charged with the goal of identifying and recommending best practices in this area for Brown.

The AVP will be an unbiased relationship-builder who will manage a complex portfolio of agreements with the university’s unions and with numerous unique employee relationship models. To that end, the AVP will be an approachable, interactive leader who will strive to promote and create positive work environments across union and non-union employment areas with the goal to lower grievances, strengthen morale, and increase operational efficiencies. The AVP should be an effective coach who can work with managers and bargaining units on negotiation and arbitration best practices.

Furthermore, the AVP will be a visionary and strategic leader who will keep abreast of national employee and labor trends and will look to innovate and improve employee and labor models across Brown as needed. Internally, the AVP will be a creative problem solver and change management leader who will look to improve operational efficiencies, increase the usage of analytics and modeling, and implement best practices and procedures to the employee and labor relations function and to the broader HR community at Brown.

The AVP is responsible for the overall leadership, direction, and coordination of four professional staff.


  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university
  • A minimum of 10 years of progressive Human Resources and/or legal experience, including significant experience in a position that requires knowledge and application of the principles and practices of labor and employee relations
  • Expertise and knowledge in navigating complex unionized employee and student-based work environment and negotiations
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience of employee relations, employee counseling, performance management, dispute resolution, negotiation strategy, applicable employment, and labor laws
  • A demonstrated ability to lead labor contract negotiations in a large college, university, or similarly complex organization
  • Cultural architect and positive change agent with exceptional interpersonal skills and ability to work collaboratively with university leadership, campus partners, and faculty and staff
  • Strong analytical, oral presentation, and report writing skills
  • Demonstrated expertise in the use of creativity, initiative, and independent judgment to problem-solve effectively and efficiently and to produce desired outcomes
  • A demonstrated ability to work effectively with university Human Resources staff, management, legal staff, union representatives, and individual employees
  • Demonstrated commitment to implement initiatives that can help managers foster a culture of diversity, inclusion, equity, justice and belonging
  • Demonstrated success in implementing employee and labor relations operational efficiencies, case management tools, and robust data analytics reporting
  • Certification as a Certified Labor Relations Professional (CLRP), PHR (Professional in Human Resources), and/or SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certification (preferred but not required)
  • An advanced degree or Juris Doctor (preferred but not required)
  • Professional experience in an institution of higher education or academic medical organization (preferred but not required)
  • Knowledge of Rhode Island labor and employment laws and regulations (preferred but not required)

To Apply

Brown University has engaged Opus Partners to support the recruitment of this position. Craig Smith, Partner, and Chris Stadler, Associate, are leading the search. Confidential inquiries, applications, and nominations should be submitted by email to Chris at [email protected].

A complete application will include a resume and cover letter. Brown University values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and seeks a leader who is committed to promoting these values throughout the organization. We encourage candidates to address in their cover letters how they might promote these values as the Assistant Vice President for Employee and Labor Relations and to highlight past professional support of initiatives designed to remove barriers and to increase participation by historically under-represented groups.

Brown University is committed to diversity and non-discrimination and supports the employment of qualified individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Brown will comply with all federal and state laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Brown University is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and encourages applications from Minority/Female/Differently Abled/Veteran individuals. Brown University is also an E-Verify employer.

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