The Position


Reporting to the dean for student development, the assistant dean for the residential experience is a newly inspired position designed to enhance the residential student experience. The position provides vision, direction, and leadership for a 3,000-bed, on-campus housing department. This portfolio includes housing operations (assignments, contracts, keys, conferences), residence life (living-learning communities, educational programming, crisis management and response, conduct, student leadership), and financial management. The assistant dean will develop a comprehensive strategic direction inclusive of budget development, programmatic innovation, and risk management approaches informed by Gonzaga’s Jesuit Catholic mission and the priorities of the division of student affairs.

The assistant dean supervises the director of residence life and the associate director of housing operations. The department employs 12 additional full-time professional and 120 undergraduate paraprofessional staff. The assistant dean leverages a $4.7 million budget to support a positive residential experience for Gonzaga students, who are required to live on campus for their first two years.

Additional responsibilities of the position:

Departmental Leadership and Planning

  • Develop long-range planning goals for housing and residence life and report on progress toward departmental goals.
  • Conduct ongoing internal and external reviews of industry trends to align department strategies, practices, policies, and programs to best practices.
  • Work with colleagues, direct and indirect reports, and students in ways that foster cultural fluency, recognizing that feeling valued and respected is foundational to meeting the needs and expectations of increasingly more diverse student, staff, and faculty populations.

Staff development and leadership

  • Provide culturally competent supervision and mentoring for direct reports, including adapting approaches and styles to achieve results.
  • Focus on recruitment and retention practices within the department in ways that support the university and student affairs goal of increasing representation from historically marginalized populations.
  • Foster a welcoming environment throughout housing and residence life that is inclusive to current and prospective students, families, department staff, and university community members.

University engagement and collaboration

  • Collaborate with university partners in developing intentional curricular and co-curricular programs and support for first- and second-year student experiences.
  • Cultivate and maintain collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships in auxiliary enterprises, athletics, advancement, human resources, plant and construction services, and university finance.
  • Serve in the housing and residence life leadership and student affairs divisional on-call rotations, providing emergency and crisis response as appropriate.

Finance, facilities, and policy administration

  • Collaborate with campus partners in student affairs, business administration and finance, and enrollment management to assess university housing occupancy, retention, and projection trends.
  • Ensure departmental residence hall student policies and expectations align with all applicable university policies, including the student code of conduct.


A master’s degree and eight years of progressively responsible leadership in housing and residence life are required. A demonstrated commitment to creating equitable and inclusive living, learning, and working environments that accelerate the success of students and employees is essential to lead a diverse team in a department with complex functions. Qualified candidates must have foundational budget and finance experience and knowledge of national trends and best practices in campus housing, residence life, and student affairs.

A successful candidate will have an advanced understanding of occupancy management and enhancing revenue opportunities. Additionally, previous experience in Jesuit or other faith-based or mission-oriented higher education, which values the on-campus residential experience to develop the whole student, is ideal. Experience successfully implementing faculty partnerships, residential education models, living-learning communities, and other co-curricular approaches to student learning is strongly favored. A terminal degree is preferred. Additional characteristics of a successful candidate:

  • Build and develop a strong team within housing and residence life and create synergy among the various units within the department.
  • Prioritize future-oriented thinking while also supporting the staff through current challenges and successes.
  • Serve as primary liaison with plant and construction services to ensure facilities are well maintained and meet residential student needs.
  • Seek innovative possibilities and take actionable steps to bring those ideas to fruition.
  • Focus on integrating mission aspects into establishing a residential life program, and develop the residential experience to be a purposeful component of students’ time at Gonzaga University.
  • Serve as a vital member of the division of student affairs who is responsive and timely, especially regarding important issues impacting students.
  • Represent the housing and residence life department at important institutional functions such as new student and family orientations, fall family weekend, and preview days.


The assistant dean for the residential experience position was formerly the senior director for housing and residence life; the position is held by Dennis Colestock, who will retire at the end of May 2023 after 23 years at Gonzaga University. The revised position description accentuates the importance of the student residential experience at Gonzaga, including an increased focus on integrated learning experiences, such as living-learning communities and a connection to the university core curriculum. Director Colestock will stay in the role until the end of the fiscal year with the goal of transitional support with overlap between the outgoing director and the incoming assistant dean.


The new assistant dean will have an excellent opportunity to join Gonzaga when there is a great appetite for innovation to shape the residential experience. With a dynamic vision for the future of the student affairs division, Gonzaga University will expand its impact on students through a holistic, learning-centered approach to community and purpose. Finding a leader who views education as a transformative experience will be paramount.

Additional opportunities and challenges for the assistant dean for the residential experience are as follows:

  • Gonzaga University has approved a new housing master plan, which reimagines on-campus living for second-year students. A new assistant dean will be central to this unique and strategic project and must actively participate with the university’s strategic housing planning and implementation committee. These committees are charged with creating new student housing, renovating certain existing housing, and demolishing or reusing certain facilities over the next ten years.
  • Plant and construction services provide facilities and custodial support to housing and residence life. In turn, the assistant dean must maintain a strong partnership and transparent communications with them to maximize their positive impact on the student experience through maintenance, cleaning, renovations, and furnishings that meet student needs and demands.
  • With a strong divisional focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, the assistant dean can build upon a social justice-focused mission by cultivating a more inclusive living, learning, and working environment for students and staff in housing and residence life.
  • The new assistant dean will be able to strengthen and enhance the purpose and outcomes of the academically linked living-learning communities within housing and residence life. As these living-learning communities are reimagined to meet the needs of a diverse student body, collaboration with faculty and academic units across campus will be critical.
  • The new assistant dean will find a supportive and eager team of colleagues across the various pillars in student affairs with whom to partner to enhance the residential experience.


After an appropriate timeframe, the following items will define the success of the new assistant dean for the residential experience:

  • They have become a leader within the division of student affairs and the student development Community of Practice (CoP). They are innovative in their approach and the kind of colleague that pushes others towards excellence.
  • The assistant dean represents housing and residence life in all aspects and is considered an expert on the campus for the residential experience.
  • Housing and residence life continues to prioritize students and upholds the values of social justice.
  • A stronger synergy between the different units within housing and residence life is developing, with the understanding that the interconnectedness of all housing units is paramount to creating a seamless residential experience.
  • New ideas and opportunities for team and professional development are being implemented, and supportive recognition efforts are being constructed.
  • A more profound culture of collaboration, engagement, and empowerment is beginning to take shape within the housing & residence life organization.

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 three 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:

  1. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  2. Integrated Approach to Student Learning & Development
  3. Student Well-being & Flourishing

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

Housing and residential life is part of the integrated approach to student learning and development CoP, alongside Gonzaga Outdoors, new student and family programs, outdoor collaborative partnerships, campus security and public safety, and student involvement.

Housing & Dining | Gonzaga University

Student affairs communities of practice and pillars

Student affairs organizational chart

Housing & residential life organizational chart


Dr. Kent Porterfield, vice provost of 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 development of the whole student—intellectual, spiritual, cultural, physical, and emotional.

As a first-generation college student, Porterfield experienced the transformative power of higher education. He was blessed to have 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, ACPA’s Diamond Honoree recognition for outstanding contributions to student affairs, and the outstanding state division president award.

Porterfield’s professional presentations and publications have engaged various 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.


Dr. Matthew Lamsma, dean of student development

A firm believer in experiential education, Dr. Matthew Lamsma currently works as the dean for student development at Gonzaga University. In his current role, Lamsma works alongside the talented staff and student leaders in the center for student involvement (CSI), campus security and public safety (CSPS), Gonzaga Outdoors, housing and residence life (HRL), immersive outdoor learning (IOL), new student & family programs (NSFP), and student media. Lamsma is guided by a professional philosophy that values experiential education, a sense of belonging, institutional integrity, and collaboration. These values inform his work on projects and committees that integrate the in-class and out-of-class experiences for all students.


Established in 1887, Gonzaga University is a private liberal arts university 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

Visit Spokane


Thayne McCulloh, president

Dr. Thomas McCulloh is in his 11th year as president of Gonzaga University. He received a bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University (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, he 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, academic and student programs, and 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 NASPA for his unwavering commitment to students and their development as region V and VI president of the year. 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.



Total enrollment: 8,902

Male: 3,861

Female: 5,051

Retention rate: 94%

White: 72%

Underrepresented minorities: 22%

Race unknown: 4%

Non-resident: 2%


See here for the benefits offered at Gonzaga University.

The salary range for this position is $100,000-110,000.00.

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin April 7, 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. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Julie A. Leos at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

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Gonzaga University does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, military status, or any characteristic protected by local, state, or federal law, or any other non-merit factor in employment, educational program, or activities that it operates.