August 10, 2021
Universities Research Association, Inc. (URA), a consortium of more than 90 leading research universities responsible for the management and operation of research facilities in the national interest, has announced the selection of John C. Mester, Ph.D., as its next Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. He will officially begin his tenure on September 1, 2021.
In this new role, Mester will assume overall leadership and strategic direction of URA, building on the organization’s more than 55 years of service to the science community. He succeeds Dr. Marta Cehelsky, who announced her retirement earlier this year after successfully guiding the organization since 2011.
Mester was selected by the URA Board of Trustees in consultation with a seven-member search committee comprised of select members of the Board and industry leaders. His hire followed an extensive national search supported by the WittKieffer executive search firm.
Mester brings to the role a wealth of experience gained from a variety of previous leadership roles. Most recently he served as Associate Vice President for Research and professor in the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona. Prior to that, Mester was Vice President for Science and Programs at Associated Universities, Inc., which manages the $864 million cooperative agreement for the management and operation of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, an effort funded by the National Science Foundation.
“We are pleased to have John Mester as our next Executive Director,” said Eric Barron, President of The Pennsylvania State University and Chair of the URA Board of Trustees. “John has the vision for the future of science combined with the strategic and collaborative approach needed to fulfill and build on URA’s commitments to its partners. The Board is confident that John will carry on URA’s standards of excellence while helping the organization continue to innovate and grow.”
“This is truly a unique opportunity for me,” noted Mester. “It is the culmination of many years of a commitment to advancing excellence in science. I look forward to working with the URA Board of Trustees and the executive team to carry out URA’s mission in service to its strategic partners and members on behalf of the future of science and in the interest of the nation.”