Skip to content


Ryan Hays has been doing strategy work for more than two decades at some of the nation’s leading academic institutions. During this time, he has provided strategic counsel to multiple university presidents and governing boards and coauthored several strategic plans.

Hays currently serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer at the University of Cincinnati. He leads the Office of Innovation, including the 1819 Innovation Hub and the Cincinnati Innovation District. He oversees the University’s Department of Marketing + Communications, in addition to serving as Senior Advisor to the President and the Board of Trustees.

From 2012 to 2022, Hays served as the President’s Chief of Staff, overseeing the Office of the President and the Office of the Board of Trustees. Hays was the primary architect for the University’s strategic direction Next Lives Here, in addition to the past strategic plan Creating Our Third Century. In 2019, he served as Interim Director of Athletics. In 2020, he co-led the University’s enterprise-wide response to the pandemic.

Hays served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the University of Cincinnati Research Institute (UCRI), the precursor to the Office of Innovation, from 2014 to 2022. In 2016, he secured a $40 million investment to create the 1819 Innovation Hub. In 2017, he hired the University’s first Chief Innovation Officer. In 2020, he helped establish the Cincinnati Innovation District.

Prior to UC, Hays was Assistant Dean of the Faculty at Princeton University. At Princeton, his duties spanned all four academic divisions of the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. He co-managed a $600 million faculty budget. He facilitated the appointment of approximately 500 lecturers and visiting professors. He oversaw the appointment of all faculty leaders of academic centers, institutes and programs, as well as members of departmental advisory councils.

Prior to Princeton, Hays staffed the Board of Trustees at Emory University. His work focused on strategic planning, trustee recruitment and board development. At Emory, Hays taught in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts (ILA), the oldest interdisciplinary doctoral program in the country. Prior to Emory, Hays served as special assistant to the Dean of the Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College. In 1997, Hays helped launch the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future under the direction of Retired General Colin Powell.

Hays received a BA from DePauw University and a PhD in psychoanalytic studies and postmodern theory from Emory University. His dissertation on Sigmund Freud has ranked among the Top 25 most-accessed scholarly works on ProQuest, an electronic library of more than 2.1 million dissertations and theses.

Ryan Hays, PhD