The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Pitt-Bradford) invites applications, nominations, and expressions of interest for the Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Advising position.

Founded in 1963 as a regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh and set in the heart of the scenic Alleghenies, Pitt-Bradford is a four-year baccalaureate institution enrolling approximately 1,200 students. Pitt-Bradford offers high-quality teaching, supported by the resources of a world-class research university, in a supportive, friendly, inclusive, and student-focused academic environment that is ideal for students who want to earn a world-renowned degree in a personalized atmosphere. Working closely with the institutional leadership, divisional staff, and colleagues across campus, the successful candidate will help lead the institution’s Division of Academic Affairs in providing an outstanding student experience.

The Position


Reporting to the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs and serving as a member of the Academic Affairs management team, the Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Advising provides comprehensive guidance and direction for advising, retention, academic support, and other success initiatives for all students. The Assistant Dean serves as the director of Pitt-Bradford’s advising program and oversees the Advising Center, Academic Coaching and Tutoring Center, First-Year Seminar program, and TRIO Student Support Services. In support of the students’ personal and academic needs, the Assistant Dean develops and maintains collaborative partnerships with faculty and administration; manages the department’s daily operations and strategic planning initiatives; and ensures policy compliance and implementation. The Assistant Dean oversees, administers, and coordinates a departmental budget of $282,000, managing and analyzing all expenditures, calculating and verifying budgetary figures, approving purchases, and planning and authorizing all departmental functions. The Assistant Dean directs and supervises a team of seven dynamic professionals, including four direct reports, as well as a group of contracted tutors and student employees.


The new Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Advising must possess a broad understanding of academic practice and theory, demonstrate experience in direct student engagement, and have extensive proficiency in academic administration, advising, or other student success initiatives. The Assistant Dean should be a dynamic and respected leader who has had success building and advancing a progressive program at another institution, capable of managing multiple priorities and departments, and equipped to contribute at both a strategic and operational level to the vibrant, student-centered environment at Pitt-Bradford.

It is essential to identify a competent and visionary individual who can promote and develop the staff in the department, set and implement strategic priorities, implement best practices, and work in tandem with the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, other members of the administration, and the Academic Success and Advising staff to move the program forward progressively, innovatively, and comprehensively. The following were identified as possible opportunities, priorities, and challenges that will face the Assistant Dean upon arrival.

  • This is an exciting time to join Pitt-Bradford and a great occasion to strategically build a contemporary, 21st century, future-centric, and student-focused Academic Success and Advising department. As priorities are developed and plans are initiated, the Assistant Dean should be prepared to work with the staff to identify programs and services that are working effectively, as well as those areas that are not as efficient or successful, and be willing to add, enhance, and sunset programs as necessary. With great excitement and expectation around this position, the Assistant Dean should be prepared for a fast pace and energized environment at all times. As the first individual to serve in this new position, there is a unique opportunity for the Assistant Dean to make their professional mark on the program and the institution, to grow professionally with a great deal of support, and be able to implement a variety of new and creative ideas along the way.
  • Pitt-Bradford is wholeheartedly committed to building strong, healthy, and mutually supportive relationships as a foundation of the campus culture, and collaboration across the institution is an absolute necessity to ensure success. It will be crucial that the new Assistant Dean quickly reach out internally and across campus, particularly with the faculty, to begin the process of building solid and mutually beneficial relationships that foster ongoing positive interactions. These connections are essential to assess the current environment and its needs, provide exceptional academic support programs and services for the student body, and ensure that the department is known for its student-centered approach. At their earliest convenience, the new Assistant Dean should conduct internal and external “listening tours” to connect to department and campus stakeholders, understand their needs, and establish a baseline for strategic and operational plans in the future.
  • The scope of responsibilities for this role is broad and highly impactful on the student experience, so the Assistant Dean will need to quickly become familiar with all aspects under their purview to develop a comprehensive list of priorities. The Assistant Dean will need to prioritize a great deal of time upon arrival for learning the nuances and priorities of the campus, discovering the internal needs of the staff and the department, and beginning the process of establishing themselves as the “expert” on issues related to student success and retention. A fast pace can be expected, with many entities wanting this person’s attention simultaneously, so the Assistant Dean must be an effective multitasker and a diplomat at all times. With this hire coming mid-fall semester, it will be imperative that the Assistant Dean immediately begin preparation upon arrival for the advising process for the spring semester.
  • The ability to grow, develop, and mentor a dynamic professional staff, while building a solid and dedicated academic support team, will be critical for success. To succeed in this area, the new Assistant Dean must be a strong motivator with high-level supervisory and staff-development skills. Support for the staff is critical, and professional development at all levels is expected. Navigating through the current team’s needs, meeting with each unit individually, getting to know the people who comprise each unit, and spending quality time in each area will be essential tasks for the new Assistant Dean.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential parts of the Pitt-Bradford community, and the Assistant Dean must be a leader in supporting, understanding, embracing, and nurturing these concepts. There are many underrepresented populations within the institution (a higher percentage than currently exists on the main campus in Pittsburgh), and Academic Success and Advising needs to be a model for maintaining a strong sense of equity and an unbiased environment at all times. The new Assistant Dean should quickly become familiar with the campus climate and proactively participate in campus initiatives for engaging in conversation and action around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The Assistant Dean will be expected to be very visible and engaged with staff and students and subsequently serve as the expert on and the “face” of Academic Success and Advising at Pitt-Bradford. Working side-by-side with the professional team promotes unity, camaraderie, and a sense of community within the department. Also, it shows the students that the Assistant Dean, a high-level administrator, is willing to work on their behalf no matter the situation or circumstance. The Assistant Dean should prioritize getting out of the office and being seen, attending student events, participating in official Pitt-Bradford activities, collaborating across academic and student life, and spending quality time within the campus community. To accomplish this, the Assistant Dean should have excellent communication skills and be able to articulate the “story” of Academic Success and Advising across the University. Because the role also requires close interaction with students, the ability to be empathetic, understanding, and transparent in all student encounters is essential for success.
  • Innovation is a focal point for continually improving the student experience at Pitt-Bradford. There will be great support for working together to implement new ideas, cutting-edge technology, and national best practices. While funding is not unlimited and not all new proposals can be undertaken, the Assistant Dean will find that well-researched ideas accompanied by comprehensive data analysis will be considered and given thorough vetting. The Assistant Dean should seek out successful academic support and advising programs and services at other institutions, determine available professional benchmarking opportunities, and be involved in NACADA or other national or regional associations to remain current on trending issues in advising and academic support.
  • Stakeholders unanimously agreed that the area around Bradford is ideal for the outdoor enthusiast, with hiking, fishing, golfing, biking, camping, and skiing opportunities, to name a few, within a short distance from campus. Buffalo, NY, and Erie, PA, are approximately 90 minutes from Bradford, and Pittsburgh, PA, and Toronto, CN, are within a three-hour drive, so there is relatively easy access to larger urban areas if needed. Pitt-Bradford and the Town of Bradford have a positive and synergistic relationship, so there are opportunities for town and gown involvement. These same stakeholders also adamantly indicated how much they enjoy working at Pitt-Bradford, the collegiality that exists throughout the institution, and the support they all expect and receive from each other, particularly in times of need.


At an appropriate interval after joining Pitt-Bradford, the items listed below will initially define success for the Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Advising.

  • Retention and persistence statistics are strong and rising.
  • The students are increasingly utilizing the resources available through the department, and, through effective marketing and communication, the campus is progressively more aware of the programs and services offered through Academic Success and Advising.
  • Faculty are fully engaged in the mission and goals of Academic Success and Advising, strong partnerships are being facilitated across all areas of Academic Affairs, and communication between the department and faculty is open, transparent, and abundant.
  • Predictive analytics, performance metrics, and intentional data analysis are being used to strategically enhance the ongoing evolution of Academic Success and Advising.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion are evident in all decisions, policies, and procedures emanating from Academic Success and Advising.
  • The Pitt-Bradford stakeholders recognize the Assistant Dean as the “face” of advising and an “expert” on student success, the Assistant Dean is visible across campus attending student programs and official Pitt-Bradford events, and collaborative partnerships have been formed in support of student success initiatives.
  • The Academic Success and Advising team is working together collaboratively, professional development is prevalent, the Assistant Dean meets and interacts with the staff of each unit regularly, the vision for the team is clear, and the staff feel empowered and view the Assistant Dean as the trusted leader of the department.
  • The Assistant Dean is engaged and enthusiastic, their goals and objectives are charted, the department’s successes are communicated across campus, and the Assistant Dean is linking their progress to the greater Pitt-Bradford goals and mission.
  • The advising program at Pitt-Bradford is recognized as comprehensive and student-friendly, communication between students and faculty/academic departments is robust and frequent, and qualitative surveys show that student satisfaction with advising is at a high level.
  • The Academic Coaching and Tutoring Center has a full cohort of tutors, and satisfaction levels regarding the services provided are high.
  • The TRIO program’s resources are effectively utilized, and cohort numbers are being met and exceeded.
  • Innovative ideas and new best practices are being suggested and implemented as much as possible, and the “needle is being moved upward” on student success in ways not previously attempted.


In the summer of 2021, Academic Support, including TRIO and Academic Advising, moved from Enrollment Services to Academic Affairs. During the fall of 2021, the academic leadership determined the need for a new position in academic support and advising. Initially formulated as an interim role as the specifics of the position were determined, the Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Advising is now a permanent position, and Pitt-Bradford has enlisted Spelman Johnson to assist in the search process for this newly-created but crucial role.



A master’s degree in higher education, educational leadership, or counseling, with progressively responsible experience in higher education, is required. The successful candidate will possess a high degree of professionalism; interpersonal and public speaking skills; working knowledge and understanding of best practices and industry standards in supporting students; and initiative, creativity, and organizational skills. The ability to articulate a vision and effectively lead faculty and staff from a collegial position, as well as a high level of sensitivity and confidentiality when dealing with student issues, is also required. The successful candidate will possess demonstrated programmatic and supervisory experience in student services, including undergraduate academic and personal advising, case management, accessibility and learning support services, and student support.

In addition to the minimum academic and experiential requirements indicated above, other desired characteristics, skills, actions, and abilities noted from discussions with campus stakeholders include:

  • A solid academic advising and administration background, including substantial student success and student engagement skills in support of a learning-based organization.
  • The ability to build collaborative partnerships in all facets of the role.
  • Strong and inspirational leadership skills, emotional intelligence, charisma, and a strategic vision, with the ability to effectively push an agenda forward and obtain buy-in.
  • Demonstrated ability to understand and connect deeply with faculty, enhance the connection and partnership between Academic Affairs and Academic Success and Advising, and transparently communicate how this department supports the University’s academic mission.
  • An excellent communicator with the ability to reach all levels of the University, especially in telling the “story” of Academic Success and Advising.
  • Empathy, compassion for, and a deep focus on the advising needs of students, with particular attention paid to undeclared majors in the exploration of their goals and objectives, as well as a continuous drive to improve the Pitt-Bradford advising system.
  • A willingness to serve as the “face” of the department and consistently advocate for the needs of the staff and units in the portfolio.
  • An innovator and scholar-practitioner with a futuristic orientation, intense curiosity and confidence, and someone willing to try new opportunities, remain informed on recent trends and cutting-edge ideation, and lead effective change processes as necessary.
  • Knowledge of retention initiatives, with demonstrated excellence in creating best practices around student retention.
  • Energy and passion for the job and the institution.
  • A commitment to promote and support the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as an interest in the specific needs of traditionally underserved student populations.
  • The ability to listen carefully, ask knowledgeable questions, learn the department and its intricacies, accept input from staff, and then make well-informed decisions.
  • The ability to process and manage information effectively and follow up systematically.
  • A willingness to be visible on campus, participate in campus life, practice a “hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves” attitude, and engage students and staff on all levels.
  • A strategic and data-informed decision-maker with solid assessment skills who can also collect and analyze data and implement initiatives based on this data.
  • An ardent supporter of students, with the ability to relate to, engage, and connect on all levels, as well as understand the changing needs of today’s post-COVID student body.
  • Demonstrated experience in embracing and utilizing new and innovative technology, with Peoplesoft and Pathways Advising experience being plusses.
  • A commitment to professional development in both themselves and the staff.
  • The ability to make difficult decisions, when necessary, conduct difficult conversations when pertinent, listen to all sides of an issue, and build consensus across multiple constituencies.
  • An understanding of and experience with TRIO programs, providing exhaustive support for the staff in writing and implementing the TRIO grant.
  • The ability to review major processes, policies, and procedures to look for efficiencies and opportunities to combine, collaborate, share, develop, or discard antiquated functions and practices.
  • Approachability, relatability, and a positive, optimistic, and enthusiastic attitude.
  • Organizational development and problem-solving skills, with an orientation toward details in all aspects of the position.
  • An understanding of the University of Pittsburgh’s brand name and the access to resources that this relationship allows.

Institution & Location


The Office of Academic Affairs oversees the academic component of life at Pitt-Bradford, including course scheduling, curriculum review and planning, faculty hiring and development, educational student support services, and academic-related campus programming.


David Fitz – Interim Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs

David Fitz has served in higher education for 29 years. He began his career as an assistant professor of political science and taught full-time for ten years before moving into higher education administration. Fitz previously served as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Campus Dean (where he oversaw Academic and Student Affairs and Enrollment Management), and Vice President for Community Engagement and Institutional Integration. He has worked at private liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and two- and four-year, state-related institutions. Fitz has worked for the University of Pittsburgh at the Titusville and Bradford campuses since 2011, currently serving as Interim Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs.


Pitt-Bradford was established in 1963 because there were no colleges or universities in the northcentral region of Pennsylvania. In the early years, most of its students came from the local area. Since then, the campus has grown significantly.

The Pitt-Bradford students come from nearly every county in Pennsylvania, more than 20 states – as far away as Alaska and California – and many countries, including China, India, Nepal, Philippines, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, and Pakistan.

The 470-acre campus has developed into a vibrant learning community where students are challenged to discover more than they imagined; nurtured to help them grow into happy, healthy people; and encouraged to go beyond their comfort zones and achieve more than they thought possible.



The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is an inclusive, student-focused community with outstanding faculty and staff who equip graduates to be engaged citizens who value and embrace diverse perspectives in a globally connected and sustainable world. Pitt-Bradford creates opportunities for innovation and transformation regionally, nationally, and globally through collaborations with key stakeholders and diverse communities.


Pitt-Bradford will be a campus of choice, equipping students, faculty, and staff for success in their field and as strong community advocates and committed global citizens striving to solve the world’s challenges.


  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • Innovation
  • Service
  • Sustainability

Strategic Plan

Pitt-Bradford has a long and successful history of strategic planning. The Plan for Pitt-Bradford will build upon the successes of its previous plans and help chart its course for the future, assisting the institution in reaching new heights on campus, in the local community, in the region, and beyond.

This planning process will be comprehensive and collaborative, involving the campus community members and the neighbors in the region and beyond.


  • Academic and Global Careers – We aspire to prepare students to live and work in a globally interconnected world.
  • Whole-Person Learning – We aspire to be a university that fosters holistic student growth through equitable opportunities that address students’ intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
  • Inclusion, Equity, Justice, and Access – We aspire to be a university community that embodies access, inclusion, equity, and justice.
  • Community Impact and Beyond – We aspire to be a university that respectfully, inclusively, and collaboratively engages with our communities to strengthen our region, nation, and the world.
  • Building Foundational Strength – We aspire to be a university that supports success through a healthy foundation of strong creative entrepreneurial culture, a robust capacity to partner, and an outstanding infrastructure that complements our natural environment and effective operations.

To read more about the Plan for Pitt-Bradford:


The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) was established in 2015 to help build the University into a world-class model of diversity and inclusion defined by inclusive excellence and an environment that allows everyone to thrive.
ODI is committed to maintaining an environment free from harassment and discrimination, fostering diversity and celebrating differences, educating the community on the benefits of diversity, promoting equity, eliminating discrimination, and advancing equal access to all opportunities at the University.
Given the size, complexity, and collegial nature of the University, ODI does not do this alone. The campus community contributes to the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through the work of faculty, staff, and students at all levels of the University.


  • Total Enrollment: 1,159
  • Men: 42.3%
  • Women: 57.7%
  • White: 67.5%
  • African American: 14.8%
  • Asian: 3.7%
  • Hispanic: 5.9%
  • Two or More Races: 4.4%
  • Race Unknown: 1.7%
  • Non-Resident: 1.5%
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: .4%
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: .1%

Student/Teacher Ratio: 17:1

Typical Class Size: 19 students

Number of Majors Leading to Baccalaureate Degree

  • 41: BA, BS, BSN
  • 19: pre-professional programs

Number of Majors Leading to Associate Degree: 5 (AS, AA)

Number of Graduate Programs: 4

  • Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Social Work are offered on campus by the graduate school at Pitt-Oakland.
  • Master of Education and Master of Science for Clinical Nurse Leader are offered online from Pitt-Oakland.


Rick Esch – President

President Rick Esch is a proud Pitt-Bradford and Pitt graduate with deep roots both in the university community and the surrounding community. He began his career at his alma mater in 1995 as the Director of Auxiliary Services. In 1999, he was named Chief Business and Administrative Affairs Officer and was promoted to Vice President for Business Affairs in 2003. In 2012, he was named Vice President for Business Affairs at Pitt-Titusville.

After serving as Interim President for a year, he was appointed President on July 1, 2022.

In June 2021, he received Pitt-Bradford’s Staff Recognition Award for his leadership in helping the campus navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. For nearly 18 months, in addition to overseeing several campus departments, including Budget and Financial Reporting, Auxiliary Services, and Facilities Management, he has represented Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville on the Chancellor’s Resilience Steering Committee and has worked closely with Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office. He also has collaborated with local, regional, and state agencies, including the McKean County and Crawford County Emergency Management agencies, UPMC, and Bradford Regional Medical Center.

He also assembled and continues to lead a COVID-19 Mitigation Response Team, which included representatives from most offices at Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville. Under his leadership, the team successfully implemented many changes on campus, including testing asymptomatic students weekly; isolating and quarantining symptomatic students; adapting the physical plant, including the dining hall and classrooms, to enable physical distancing; purchasing masks, signage, and other materials; and identifying vaccinations sites.

President Esch is very active in the Bradford community. He is a board member and immediate past chairman of Journey Health System, is President and a charter member of the Tuna Valley Trail Association, a board member and Managing Director of the Bradford Educational Foundation, and a board member and Vice Chairman of the Bradford Economic Development Corp.

President Esch received his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business Executive MBA Program in 1998, and his Bachelor of Science, Environmental Science, from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in 1983.

Benefits Overview


  • Education
  • Health & Wellness
  • Faculty/Staff Assistance Program
  • Leaves of Absence
  • Notices
  • Retirement Savings Plan
  • Time Off
  • Defined Dollar Benefit

For more information:

Application & Nomination

Application and Nomination

Review of applications will begin September 2, 2022, and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to J. Scott Derrick at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

Visit the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford website at

 The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. EEO/AA/M/F/Vets/Disabled.