Recruiting exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations.




Vice President for Strategy, Innovation, and Operations Oakland, CA

Samuel Merritt University (SMU), an innovative and dynamic multi-campus health sciences university dedicated to educating impactful, community-based health care professionals, seeks a seasoned financial leader to serve as the Vice President for Strategy, Innovation, and Operations (VPSIO). A truly mission-driven institution, SMU produces graduates who work across multiple fields to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities for all members of a community. Together with dedicated staff and a new and evolving leadership team, the VPSIO will take on a tremendous opportunity to strengthen and expand the university’s financial and physical footprint, leveraging its location in a dynamic region of the country, Northern California, to chart a strategic path for continued growth and development. 

Founded in 1909, Samuel Merritt University has spent more than a century preparing outstanding nurse, physician assistant, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and podiatrist practitioners and leaders through immersive learning, community engagement, and a deep commitment to transforming health care through diversity and inclusion. Today, SMU enrolls over 2,700 hundred students on the Oakland, San Francisco Peninsula, Sacramento, and Fresno campuses as well as online. 

SMU stands at an exciting moment in its institutional development. The University welcomed Dr. Ching-Hua Wang as its President in November 2018, and Dr. Fred Baldini as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in July 2019. The University is pursuing a bold strategic plan to amplify its position as a leader in delivering innovative health sciences education, ensuring a first-rate student experience, and supporting an outstanding, passionate faculty and staff. Simultaneously, SMU is developing plans for a new campus, a rare moment of significant expansion of an academic institution in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The ambitions of the institution to increase its local and national impact is an unparalleled moment of opportunity for all members of the Samuel Merritt community, to which the expertise and leadership of the incoming VPSIO will be essential. To be successful and achieve the University’s goals, the VPSIO will: 

  • Chart a strategic path for SMU’s continued growth and development
  • Secure SMU’s financial foundation to further the University’s strategic and programmatic aspirations
  • Guide SMU’s infrastructure expansion, including the upcoming acquisition and establishment of a new campus 
  • Lead a robust and externally-oriented financial enterprise in support of a dynamic, forward-looking university
  • Inspire and empower a team of talented professionals to manage a robust operational portfolio 
  • Further develop SMU’s relationship with Sutter Health and other health care organizations to provide the top health sciences education to students 
  • Enhance engagement with the local Oakland community and promote opportunities for new and strengthened partnerships

David Bellshaw is leading this search with Ludi Chow and Jaime Morgen.

Samuel Merritt University has an institution-wide commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We strive to build a welcoming and supportive campus environment, and acknowledge that diversity is an educational imperative to achieve excellence.


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