The Position


Reporting to the dean for student wellbeing and a leader in the student wellbeing & flourishing community of practice (SWP CoP), the assistant dean of student health, counseling, and wellness provides vision, leadership, and management of student health, counseling, and health promotions areas. The assistant dean sets strategic direction, develops high-impact practices, and innovative approaches informed by the Gonzaga University ethos of cura personalis (care of the whole person), and prioritizes student wellbeing as a foundation for student success. The assistant dean guides the department’s daily operations, assessment, service management, and partnerships in service to overall student wellbeing at Gonzaga University.

The assistant dean ensures that departmental initiatives incorporate inclusive approaches to best serve an increasingly diverse generation of Gonzaga students. The assistant dean’s administrative portfolio includes budgetary management of $1.5M and oversees approximately 20 staff, providing programs and services to meet students’ health needs, support overall wellbeing, foster community, and align with the university’s mission. The assistant dean serves as a member of the student affairs leadership team.

Additional responsibilities of the position:

  • Oversee the strategy and implementation of comprehensive student health, counseling, and wellness initiatives supporting student wellbeing and flourishing.
  • Collaboratively design, deliver, and evaluate innovative, theory-based, and evidence-informed programs and interventions to support increasingly diverse students.
  • Provide flexible, identity-conscious, and culturally competent approaches in supervision and mentoring for direct and indirect reports to optimize results.
  • Conduct ongoing internal and external reviews of relevant higher education trends that ensure strategies, practices, policies, and programs align with best practices.
  • Develop long-range planning goals for student health, counseling, and wellness, and report annual progress.
  • Implement comprehensive assessment of student health, counseling, and wellness initiatives, analyze, and disseminate data to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Steward department, programmatic, and capital expenditure budgets from various sources, effectively and appropriately.


A master’s degree in public health, hospital administration, higher education, or a related field and significant, relevant, and progressive leadership experience with a record of success are required. The successful candidate must demonstrate the ability to work with a complex and diverse student community, experience articulating and implementing relevant best practices and collaborative models of care, and a strong commitment to creating equitable and inclusive campus environments, systems, programs, and policies.

Additionally, stakeholders identified the following capabilities and attributes of a successful candidate:

  • Fosters a welcoming, inclusive environment for students, staff, and university colleagues and engages with others as thought partners and collaborators.
  • Develops innovative solutions and continuously improves programmatic, service, and operational efforts to achieve outstanding outcomes in higher education.
  • Aligns practice with intention, mentors and empowers staff in establishing congruent and proactive mechanisms to improve student flourishing and retention.
  • Models wellbeing, builds relationships, and demonstrates a commitment to collaboration and inclusion.
  • Exemplifies the institutional culture recognizing that feeling valued and respected is critical to meeting the needs and expectations of a diverse student body.
  • Is invested and engaged in current research, trends, and best practices; able to bring multiple perspectives to discussions.


The assistant dean for student health, counseling, and wellness is a reconceptualization of two director positions (student health & counseling and health promotion) designed to integrate student health, counseling, and public health (health promotion) into a single wellness unit.


The student affairs division at Gonzaga is innovative, fostering a culture of open dialogue and curiosity. Consistent with the Jesuit tradition, it seeks to align purpose, practice, and impact through holistic and learning-centered initiatives. The new assistant dean is a vital link connecting wellbeing and learning and has a significant opportunity to create more unity and integrate services towards a whole health model.

The following represents noteworthy opportunities, priorities, and challenges for the new assistant dean of student health, counseling, and wellness:

  • The clinical operation of counseling and health services will each be led by a director reporting to the assistant dean, who will prioritize threading units together, department planning, team effectiveness, campus engagement, and wellness education/promotion.
  • A successful whole health model must leverage expertise, data, collaboration, and education to empower the community to identify strategies to proactively intervene before students are in crisis and strengthen responses to emergent issues.
  • To address increasing mental health challenges and ensure support to all students, Gonzaga seeks to employ a strategic approach to putting tools of emotional health in the hands of the students through a variety of initiatives, such as intentionally engaging students, grassroots efforts, and collaborating with faculty. The new assistant dean must seek creative partnerships to facilitate this effort.
  • Robust professional development must be designed for student affairs staff and the university community to mobilize more individuals to support students and effectively create integrated education and interventions.
  • Data and technology are essential to the strategic vision to strengthen student wellbeing and flourishing. The health and counseling areas supervised by the new assistant dean have integrated HIPAA systems. However, other information systems utilized by student affairs partners are not integrated with the HIPAA systems, limiting the ability to draw inferences or create projections. The new assistant dean must be conversant in data systems and components of leading risk indicators to fully take advantage of the untapped potential of information drawn from these systems.
  • The new assistant dean must thrive in a dynamic environment, be knowledgeable, and develop and identify new partnerships, inspiring the community through communication, advocacy, and networking to create buy-in regarding a new organizational structure and a whole health model in an educational environment.
  • Gonzaga is growing in enrollment and student population diversity, increasing demand for student support services. The new assistant dean must advocate for students’ interests and utilize numerous strategies to cultivate more robust support systems, including growing staffing and other resources to address a student body with increased needs.


The items listed below will define the new assistant dean’s success throughout the first year of employment:

  • Staff reports the demand for student support is manageable and sustainable and that initiatives have successfully created proactive interventions reducing load and need for crisis response.
  • Assessment of student experience indicates a high level of satisfaction with support, advocacy, and resources.
  • Staff feels more interconnected, and the assistant dean is known for cultivating a sense of unity, community, and belonging.
  • Health promotion, student health clinic, and counseling staff are engaged and retained.
  • People across the university know and understand the whole health model and organizational structure and readily refer students for support.
  • The department is known for “best in class” inclusive and equitable policies and procedures.
  • The assistant dean is recognized for establishing partnerships and collaborative innovations.

Institution & Location


The division of student affairs at Gonzaga University is responsible for facilitating and supporting learning, living, and thriving outside of the classroom. The professionals who work in student affairs are committed to helping all students create lives of leadership and service for the common good.

Under the leadership of Dr. Kent Porterfield, the division of student affairs underwent a reorganization in January 2022, adopting a “community of practice (CoP)” model to describe three groupings of functional areas. The CoPs are based on three pillars that guide the division’s work; these pillars were selected based on the belief that the skills and experiences they represent are integral to fulfilling a Jesuit education and will support students in maximizing their experience. Each person in student affairs is responsible for infusing the divisional pillars into their work. The three divisional pillars are:

  • Diversity, equity, & inclusion
  • Integrated approach to student learning & development
  • Student wellbeing & flourishing

The three CoP groups are named after the three pillars described above. For Gonzaga, the CoP model acts as an organizational tool, cementing the divisional commitment to advance each pillar. Each of the communities of practice is led by a dean who guides the team to deepen their knowledge and expertise in their practice.

Learn more about the communities of practice in student affairs at Gonzaga University here.


The areas supervised by the assistant dean fall within the student wellbeing & flourishing community of practice (SWF CoP). In addition to student health, counseling, and health promotions, the center for cura personalis (student outreach and support) and the resolution center for student conduct and conflict comprise the SWF CoP. This community of practice advances the care of the whole person, prioritizes student wellbeing and flourishing as a foundation for student success, and works collaboratively to meet the ever-changing needs of an increasingly diverse generation of students. They demonstrate expertise while working across the university and the Spokane community to further university initiatives and student affairs goals for student learning and success.

A national search for the next dean of student wellbeing to lead this community of practice is underway. The new dean will participate in the search for the assistant dean role. Together, they will build an organization to enhance the whole health model at Gonzaga. These areas already offer robust education to the Gonzaga community. Health Promotion activities include more than 60 annual requests for training and presentations, a series of workshops and health hut activities, and strong social media presence. Counseling engages in more than 30 outreach presentations and support groups. The health clinic and counseling center saw over 7,000 students during the current academic year.

To build on the accomplishments of these areas, the assistant dean has opportunities to develop new staffing models for the office of health promotion and further integrate health and counseling services, moving towards more integrated models of care, prevention, and education. Applicants may learn more about each area’s vision, mission, and structure through the referenced links and the working organizational chart for student affairs and the wellbeing and flourishing community of practice.


Dr. Kent Porterfield, Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Dr. Kent Porterfield was appointed vice provost for student affairs in July 2020. He oversees the student affairs division and promotes an educational experience that emphasizes the whole student’s intellectual, spiritual, cultural, physical, and emotional development. As a first-generation college student, Porterfield experienced the transformative power of higher education. He appreciates having mentors who believed in him and helped him grow. This support inspires his work today; he believes his purpose is to help students to find their purpose, voice, and passions and to prepare themselves for lives of significant meaning, devotion, and fulfillment. Porterfield strives to foster a climate at Gonzaga University where every student feels respected and valued and has a deep sense of belonging. He calls on the student affairs division to cultivate an educational experience where students will come to know themselves better, learn about the views and experiences of others, and take action that builds just communities; he envisions student affairs as the place where life and learning unite.

Porterfield’s career in higher education spans three decades, including nearly 23 years as a senior student affairs officer. In his previous role, Porterfield served as vice president for student development at Saint Louis University, a Jesuit, Catholic research university in St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to Saint Louis University, he served as vice president for student affairs at Northwest Missouri State University. Porterfield is a national leader in the student affairs field, having served as president of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) from 2014-2015. He is also a past president of the Missouri College Personnel Association. He is a recipient of ACPA’s Annuit Coeptis Senior Professional Award, Diamond Honoree recognition for outstanding contributions in the field of student affairs, and the Outstanding State Division President Award.

Porterfield’s professional presentations and publications have engaged a range of student affairs topics, including leadership; diversity, equity, and inclusion; rethinking student affairs practice; student learning; retention; and student success. In his career, he has overseen many areas of student life, including athletics, campus ministry, campus recreation, cross-cultural center, career services, dean of students office, health and counseling services, housing and residence life, international services, multicultural affairs, service and community engagement, disability services, student union/center, student academic success, student conduct, student involvement, parent and family programs, and auxiliary services.


Paula Smith, Acting Dean of Student Wellbeing

Paula Smith serves as the interim dean of student wellbeing while a national search for a permanent leader advances. A lifelong Midwestern flatlander prior to moving to Gonzaga and the Pacific Northwest, Smith is humbled by how family sacrifices and first-generation access to higher education has changed her life. University administrators were instrumental in encouraging her sense of belonging and meaning-making beginning when Smith was a student employee. These influences led her to pursue a professional career in higher education. Smith believes in creating conditions in which students are seen, valued, and heard, and she is called to accompany students during times of challenge and growth while advocating for their needs.

Smith earned her BS in Education from Eastern Illinois University and her MA in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green University. Smith is currently enrolled in the MA in Public Health at Eastern Washington University and is completing a graduate certificate in Social Emotional Learning at Rutgers University. Smith enjoys cooking, bluegrass music, visits to the desert, and being outside with family and friends.


Gonzaga University is a private liberal arts university established in 1887 in Spokane, Washington. The university is rooted in its unique identity grounded in a Jesuit, Catholic, and humanistic tradition, where students, faculty, and staff seek to serve the common good. The Gonzaga mission encourages an experience that fosters a commitment to the dignity of the human person. The Jesuit-inspired, liberal arts-based tradition of reflection and action ensures the development of the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. Gonzaga offers 75 undergraduate majors and programs, 26 master’s degrees, and several PhD programs to over 7,200 enrolled students. Gonzaga calls students to live, learn, and explore, centering community as the cornerstone of the student experience.

Mission Statement

Statement of Affirmation

Strategic Planning


Thayne McCulloh, President

Dr. Thayne McCulloh holds a BA from Gonzaga (1989) and was awarded a PhD in experimental social psychology from Oxford University, England (1998). He began working at Gonzaga in 1990, and from his roots in student affairs, has remained fundamentally focused on students. He is deeply committed to a broadly based liberal arts education that prepares students to be critical thinkers, outstanding professionals, and living exemplars of the Jesuit imperative to be men and women with and for others.

McCulloh’s tenure has been marked by initiatives related to community engagement, institutional sustainability, and an increase in institutional prestige and recognition. More than $200 million in new construction and campus improvements have been completed since his inauguration in 2010, including major projects such as the Boone Avenue retail center (2013), the John J. Hemmingson Center (2015), the Stevens Center for Tennis and Golf (2014), the Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement (2017), the Woldson Performing Arts Center (2019) and the Della Strada Jesuit Community (2017). Gonzaga University launched its most ambitious fundraising effort to date, the $250 million “Gonzaga Will” campaign, in October 2015. Gonzaga closed the campaign in 2018, raising $355 million from more than 40,000 donors to support student scholarships and academic and student programs, as well as significant campus improvements.

A committed leader in Catholic and Jesuit higher education, McCulloh currently serves as vice chair of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), is vice chair of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), and has been recognized by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators as Region V and VI president of the year for his unwavering commitment to students and their development. Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between Gonzaga University and the local Spokane community, McCulloh has been actively involved in the University District Public Development Authority and Development Association, has served as a member of the Providence Health and Services board, and is a member of the Nazareth Guild board of directors, among other organizations.



Total enrollment (fall 2021): 7,295

Male: 46%

Female: 54%

Retention rate: 94%

White: 66%

African American: 1%

Asian: 6%

Hispanic: 12%

Two or more races: 7%
Race unknown: 3%
Non-resident: 2%


The anticipated hiring range is $110,000 to $115,000 annually, commensurate with education and experience.

Gonzaga offers a competitive benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, life insurance, disability insurance, flexible spending, retirement, tuition benefits, and other University provided benefits.

Additional benefits information is available here on the Gonzaga University website.

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin May 25, 2023 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. Please email nominations for this position to Kara Kravetz Cupoli at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email 

Visit the Gonzaga University website at 

Gonzaga University is a Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic institution, and is therefore interested in candidates who will contribute to its distinctive mission. Gonzaga University is a committed EEO/AA employer and diversity candidates are encouraged to apply. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to their disability status and/or protected veteran status.  

Diversity affirms our faith-inspired commitment to an inclusive community where human differences thrive within our living, working and learning environment.