ann10024 — Announcement

Director of IAU Office for Astronomy Development

30 July 2010

As a first step in the implementation of the decadal strategic plan “Astronomy for the Developing World – Building from the IYA2009”[i], the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has selected the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Cape Town as the location for the Office for Astronomy Development (OAD). The OAD will be a joint venture between the IAU and the SAAO to lead and coordinate the development activities of the IAU globally.

We now seek an outstanding individual to fill the role of Director for the OAD to provide the necessary leadership and spearhead the effective implementation of the IAU strategic plan. The success of this important initiative will be critically dependent on the performance of the OAD and its Director, whose drive and commitment will be essential in building up the ambitious programmes envisaged by the IAU. The successful candidate can be expected to satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  • An honours degree or equivalent in astronomy or a closely related field (and a strong affinity with astronomy). 
  • Proven track record in education and capacity building activities at an international level.
  • Demonstrable strategic vision and experience of change management.
  • Managerial experience, including people and financial management.
  • Demonstrable record of leadership and achievement, as well as a strong international reputation.

Experience in fundraising will be a significant advantage.

The tasks of the Director will include:

  • Worldwide management, coordination and evaluation of IAU programs in the area of development and education and establishment of their annual budgets.
  • Liaison with the chairs of relevant IAU program groups/sector task forces and other relevant stakeholders in planning and implementing the relevant programs.
  • Build up IAU regional astronomy development nodes, liaison with the IAU regional coordinators and nodes in planning and implementing relevant programs.
  • Implementation of new activities, as outlined in the IAU decadal strategic plan.
  • Managing the OAD and its staff, including recruitment, establishment and control of the OAD budget, interfacing with the SAAO as host organisation and appropriate regular reporting.
  • Proactive coordination and initiation of fund-raising activities for astronomy-driven capacity building activities.

The successful candidate will be expected to have an established network of contacts relevant to the tasks described above.

The Director will report to the Director of the SAAO.  The activities of the OAD will be overseen by a Steering Committee comprising nominees of both the IAU and the SAAO.

The SAAO is a facility of the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) and provides a stimulating astronomical environment with a proven record of capacity building located in one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the world. The Director will be appointed according to normal conditions of service of NRF employees, with a salary commensurate with their background and experience. This is a contract position for 5 years. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and full CV, including the contact details of at least 3 references, by email to both the IAU General Secretary, Ian Corbett (, and SAAO HR Manager, Linda Tobin ( The selection process will begin after 30 September 2010.

Prospective candidates may obtain additional information from the IAU General Secretary, Ian Corbett.

Further correspondence will be conducted with short-listed candidates only.

SAAO is committed to employment equity and redress.

About the Announcement