ScienceWorks is conducting a nationwide search beginning today for a new director who can continue the successes of the past two years, under Mark DiRienzo.

ScienceWorks is conducting a nationwide search beginning today for a new director who can continue the successes of the past two years, under Mark DiRienzo.

DiRienzo, current museum director, seeks to continue his career in real estate management, which he put on hold to lead ScienceWorks starting in late 2008.

Under his leadership attendance, membership, income and customer satisfaction all reached record highs, said Sharon Javna, a museum founder and member of the board of directors.

"His business skills were a great fit to lead us through the downturn," she said. "We feel that ScienceWorks is the best it's ever been and this will enable us to hire a very high-level candidate for the director position."

The museum hopes to hire a new director by July, when DiRienzo will hand over leadership. Afterward, he will serve on the board of directors.

Museum leaders have yet to release specifics on what qualifications they are seeking in a new director, but Javna said they want someone who is knowledgeable about both business and science.

"It could be somebody who's led a science center before or it could be somebody who's just really strong on both the business end of things and in science and education," she said. "You really need both to do this well."

The museum hopes to continue DiRienzo's gains and grow further, Javna said.

"The next step is really sustainable long-term success and that has to do with sustaining our earned income at about 60 percent and our contributed income at about 40 percent of our budget," she said.

Under DiRienzo, attendance increased by more than 46,000 people, up 16 percent from 2008. Already in 2011, attendance at the museum is up 5 percent over last year, he said.

Membership increased 23 percent, to 1,655 members, under his leadership. Earned income also rose to $400,000 in 2010.

ScienceWorks "operated in the black for 2009 and 2010," DiRienzo said. "We have no debt, and had cash in the bank at year end, all while many nonprofits are going out of business."

DiRienzo also oversaw the opening of several new exhibits, the creation of an after-school science program and the upgrade of museum facilities.

In the next five years, DiRienzo envisions ScienceWorks expanding the demographics it serves and building new exhibits, including a dome digital theatre and planetarium.

"ScienceWorks is becoming much more than a children's museum," he said. "I expect it to continue maturing into a true science center servicing early childhood education needs all the way to seniors participating in life-long learning opportunities."

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.