Position Opening: Visiting Program Officers

SPARC has two Visiting Program Officer openings: VPO for Textbook Equity and VPO for Open Education Leadership.

Position Descriptions

SPARC is seeking two Visiting Program Officer (VPO) candidates to join our team working to advance open and equitable practices in education. SPARC’s VPO program offers library professionals the opportunity to gain valuable, national-level experience working alongside our experienced team on critical issues that impact SPARC’s member community. While serving at SPARC, VPOs remain fully employed at their current institution with .25 FTE of their time dedicated to SPARC work. The positions require a 1 year commitment from the VPO’s institution starting in July or August, and candidates may apply for one or both openings:

  • Visiting Program Officer for Open Education Leadership
  • Visiting Program Officer for Textbook Equity

VPO for Open Education Leadership

For the last six years, SPARC has offered the Open Education Leadership Program, supporting more than 125 academic professionals through an intensive curriculum to build open education expertise and leadership skills. As SPARC takes a year off from running the program, we seek to continue facilitating opportunities for leadership development among the Leadership Program alumni, SPARC Open Education Form (LibOER), and broader open education community in order to advance open educational resources and practices. SPARC believes in a strengths-based approach to leadership development and believes working in community is key.

The VPO for Open Education Leadership will work with the SPARC open education team to facilitate programming and opportunities for open education leadership development. Activities will include:

  • Conducting outreach to the SPARC open education community and developing relevant programming that meets current interest and needs (may include community calls, webcasts, a community of practice, etc.)
  • Collaborating with team members to design a pilot mentorship program based on the mentorship component of the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program.
  • Contributing to special projects related to the Open Education Leadership Program community and other resources that support open education leadership.
  • Participating in SPARC’s organization-wide team meetings, strategic discussions, and equity work.

Note that graduates of the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program are especially encouraged to apply for this position, but this is not a requirement.

Reports to: Director of Open Education  

VPO for Textbook Equity

The landscape for course materials in U.S. higher education is changing rapidly as the textbook industry pushes new models for automatically billing students for digital textbooks. Known by terms such as “Inclusive Access” and “Equitable Access,” these models are gaining traction at a fast pace, threatening to inequitably increase textbook costs for students and reverse more than a decade of progress on the adoption of open educational resources. SPARC seeks to mitigate the negative impacts of these programs and support practices that genuinely advance equitable access to course materials.  

The VPO for Textbook Equity will work with the SPARC open education team to expand our work to advance more equitable digital course material models. Activities will include:

  • Researching information about “Inclusive Access” and other digital textbook programs in order to identify strategic needs and best practices.
  • Identifying key information gaps within the community and successfully developing programming and/or resources on these topics.
  • Assisting in efforts to educate the community about how to advance equity in access to course materials, including through presentations and workshops. 
  • Participating in SPARC’s organization-wide team meetings, strategic discussions, and equity work.

Note that this position will primarily focus on the U.S. context.

Reports to: Director of Open Education  

Candidate Profile

VPO candidates are generally library professionals currently employed at an institution that agrees to dedicate .25 FTE of the VPO’s time to SPARC work, while continuing to support the VPO’s full salary and benefits. The ideal VPO candidate has the following qualifications:

  • Committed advocate for open and equitable systems of research and education. 
  • Knowledge of the subject matter of the applicable VPO role (Inclusive Access/digital textbook models or open education leadership).
  • Strategic thinker with strong communication and writing skills.
  • Experience developing programming and/or facilitating groups.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

If you are unsure if you meet the qualifications above but believe you can perform the responsibilities as described, we encourage you to apply. 

How to Apply

Interested institutions should have their VPO candidate complete the online application, which involves submitting a CV/resume and responses to short answer questions. Candidates should also be prepared to state whether their library/institution is likely to support their participation in the role. Applicants are welcome to apply for either or both positions.

Applications are Closed

More Information

About SPARC’s VPO Program

SPARC’s Visiting Program Officer program provides opportunities for library professionals to contribute to special projects and programs in order to advance SPARC’s work on key issues. The program provides a valuable professional development opportunity to gain experience working at a national level alongside SPARC’s experienced team. SPARC’s VPO program also serves our membership as a whole by extending our capacity to undertake additional activities and by embedding perspectives from the SPARC community in our day-to-day work.

Under the VPO program, the expectation is that the candidate’s library (or other employer) continues to support the salary and benefits of their staff person designated as a VPO while dedicating .25 FTE of the VPO’s time to SPARC projects as an in-kind donation. SPARC will provide funding for any relevant travel or other VPO project-related expenses. SPARC is seeking a 1 year commitment at .25 FTE for each of the posted positions. This initial term may be extended upon mutual agreement between SPARC and the candidate’s library. 

Candidates do not need to be based at a SPARC member institution in order to be considered. Furthermore, institutions who are not in a financial position to donate their employee’s time are welcome to contact us for more information. Please note that a VPO agreement is between SPARC and the candidate’s institution, not an individual.


SPARC is a non-profit advocacy organization that supports systems for research and education that are open by default and equitable by design. We believe everyone should be able to access and contribute to the knowledge that shapes our world. As a catalyst for action, our pragmatic agenda focuses on driving policy change, supporting member action, and cultivating communities that advance our vision of knowledge as a public good. From the local to the global level, SPARC works to address the ways in which our knowledge systems exclude people due to racism, colonialism, and other legacies of injustice.  

Hiring Statement

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is a project of New Venture Fund (NVF), a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. NVF is committed to attracting, developing and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding and enables each of us to realize our potential. NVF’s work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.

COVID-19 Policy 

To center the safety and well-being of its employees, New Venture Fund requires that any employee who is required to conduct in-person activities for their job must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within four weeks of their start date.  This position may require candidates to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  Accommodations may be sought and approved in accordance with the law by contacting human resources at [email protected]


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