RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the vice president of student life and dean of students, the associate dean of residential and community life will serve as the senior housing officer for the campus and lead a comprehensive residential program where on-campus living is a cornerstone to student learning and development. The associate dean will oversee housing operations, residential curriculum, crisis management, student behavior, and a $500,000 departmental budget.
As part of the division of student life leadership team, the associate dean will collaborate across the campus to promote student development and be the voice for the residential experience on campus. This role will focus on leveraging the strengths of Wellesley’s intercultural education to support students’ backgrounds and intersectional identities as they seek to uphold Wellesley’s community values.
The associate dean for residential and community life will serve on the vice president for student life and dean of student’s cabinet and will work with the cabinet to contribute to a thoughtful divisional approach to the student experience. Further, in close partnership with other student life colleagues, they will define and execute the residential curriculum as a part of the strategic planning initiatives at Wellesley.
The new associate dean will lead a team of educators to support students on campus. They will directly supervise two associate directors of residential life, the office manager and housing coordinator, and six master’s level community directors.
Other primary responsibilities of the position:
- Plays a central role in developing and implementing strategies to support the three pillars of the Wellesley residential curriculum.
- Leads the overhaul of the new student conduct system that incorporates the historic Wellesley Honor Code and uses integrated restorative justice and conflict resolution practices for the campus.
- Works collaboratively with campus partners in facilities, dining services, campus police, and other divisional and college partners to oversee residence halls’ daily operations and ensure a safe, comfortable living environment for residents.
- Leads and develops a team of confident educators to serve students throughout all phases of their on-campus experience.
- Participates in the campus emergency on-call system. Serves as the point person for residential crisis response and oversees the emergency response for residence life staff concerning response times, protocol, post-incident assessment, and all training related to relevant crises.
- Leads the operations area for residential life, which requires reviewing and implementing comprehensive policies, procedures, and protocols in line with best practices.
- In partnership with the associate dean of students, develops a comprehensive departmental assessment program focused on the student experience and departmental effectiveness.
- Maintains high visibility within the residence halls and the campus community by dining with students, supporting community student events, and actively engaging in committees and campus programs.
- Stays current on research in the field and continually works to enhance the student experience in ways that maintain cultural relevance and student growth and development.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
Ten years of progressive leadership experience in residential life and a master’s degree in higher education, educational leadership, or a related field are required. Doctorate preferred. The successful candidate must have experience in housing operations or expertise in developing new housing options for residential students.
The new associate dean must have strong interpersonal communication skills and a demonstrated track record of building caring and trusting relationships with students and staff while also developing inclusive learning—and relationship–centric—environments for a diverse student population to thrive. A strong educator with experience designing, implementing, and sustaining a residential curriculum is preferred.
In addition to the qualifications stated above, key stakeholders identified the following capabilities and attributes of a successful candidate:
- Proven skills in training, supervising, and developing diverse professional and student staff teams.
- Experience with housing and student case management software—preferably Maxient.
- A confident communicator with strengths in written and electronic communications and effective use of social media.
- Comprehensive knowledge of student development theory and a genuine interest in the development of undergraduate women.
- Demonstrated successful track record implementing assessment strategies to improve the residential experience.
- Experience maintaining a fiscally responsible budget.
- Understands the goals of a liberal arts education and can create a seamless living and learning environment within the residential program.
- A keen ability to be a confident decision-maker with a calm demeanor in times of crisis and discord.
- Experience in crisis response and management on a college campus and in a residential setting.
- Brings a relational approach to their leadership style and seeks to build trust and confidence at every level of the organization.
- An advanced understanding of how to build and sustain learning–centric environments.
- A commitment to an open and transparent communication style that supports students’ need to feel understood and informed.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
Helen Wang joined the Wellesley College community as director of residential life and housing after a national search in April 2018. As the role evolved, the title was reclassified as the associate dean of residential and community life. The position is vacant as a result of Wang’s recent appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) into an elevated senior housing officer position. Catherine Bickel, the retired associate director of housing and residence life at Ball State University, currently serves as the interim associate dean of residential life and community development at Wellesley as they search for a permanent leader is advanced.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
Wellesley College is committed to a vibrant and inclusive campus community led, in large part, by the experience students have as on-campus residents. The nature of the small liberal arts residential campus provides an environment for an educator to create important moments for students. The associate dean’s expertise will be respected and valued as a vital member of the Wellesley community.
In transitioning to Wellesley College, the associate dean of residential and community life will encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by key campus stakeholders:
- A robust residential curriculum at Wellesley has gained significant strides and recognition across the college over the past five years. The impact of the residential curriculum has been recognized by the board of trustees, the university president, and other key stakeholders as a significant strategy in the approach to the campus experience at Wellesley. A new associate dean must be willing to grow and strengthen the reach of the current residential curriculum.
- Wellesley College is launching a new strategic educational campaign called Constructive Dialogues, which aims to open communication lines for students and staff around important and often difficult topics. The new associate dean must find ways to incorporate the tenets of the new initiative into the residential program to promote the campaign across the residential community.
- The student body at Wellesley College demands a high level of communication, empathy, and knowledge from their administrators. The associate dean will encounter a population of residential students accustomed to high levels of engagement with and from the associate dean.
- The next associate dean will be intimately involved with campus partners to determine the direction of the next stage of renovations for the historic residence halls on the Wellesley campus.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The items listed below will define the new associate dean’s success throughout the first year of employment:
- They have purposefully built relationships with student leaders in residential life and are beginning to understand the needs of this population of students.
- The associate dean is known across campus by students for their welcoming approach, and students are seeking them out for support, collaboration, and mentorship.
- They have focused strategically on implementing the new student conduct code and have successfully incorporated restorative justice and conflict resolution practices into the process for students.
- The associate dean has built solid and collaborative relationships with key stakeholders across the campus, and they are known for being a strategic and supportive partner in creating a positive student experience.
- They have become a leader within the division of student life, serving as the trusted voice for student housing on the Wellesley campus.
- They have understood the pillars, outcomes, and strategies for the current iteration of the Wellesley residential curriculum and are determining the next best steps to strengthen its impact.
OVERVIEW OF THE DIVISION OF STUDENT LIFE
Led by the vice president and dean of students, the division of student life includes the office of the dean of students, residential life, student involvement, academic support, accessibility and disability resources, inclusion and engagement, the office of religious and spiritual life, student employment, international study, and student wellness.
Sheilah Shaw Horton, Vice President and Dean of Students
A seasoned administrator with over 25 years of experience, Dr. Sheilah Shaw Horton has been the vice president and dean of students at Wellesley College since July 2017.
At Wellesley, Horton serves on the senior leadership team and oversees a division of ten different departments, spanning the areas of residential life and housing, counseling, health, wellness, public safety, academic advising, intercultural education, services for students with disabilities, and other student support areas. Prior to Wellesley, Horton was vice president of student affairs at Loyola University of Maryland and at Boston College, where she served in several roles, including associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students. Horton knows student life from many vantage points by teaching undergraduate and graduate students and serving as a trustee of her alma mater, Emmanuel College. She holds a master’s degree and a PhD in counseling psychology from Boston College.
Learn more about the division of student life here.
Learn more about the department of residential life here.
Wellesley College is known for the excellence of its education, its gifted faculty, the beauty of its setting, and the uniqueness of its campus culture. But most of all, Wellesley is known as the preeminent women’s college in the United States and for the thousands of accomplished, thoughtful graduates it has sent into the world since 1870. As a private, highly selective, non-profit liberal arts college for women and member of the Seven Sisters Colleges, Wellesley has a lively academic community that places a high value on rigorous, probing inquiry and creative, cross-discipline thinking. Wellesley enrolls a diverse student body of approximately 2,400 students from every state in the United States and more than 80 countries. Students can earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in one of over 50 majors with an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Wellesley College has a rich tradition of excellence in all aspects of the student journey, and on-campus living is a fundamental pillar of the student experience. With 98 percent of students living on-campus in a unique learning environment, it is easy to understand why, at Wellesley, the student voice is valued in decision-making; students serve on major board of trustees’ committees, participate in faculty search processes, and contribute to campus strategic planning.
Located just outside Boston, Massachusetts, the breathtaking natural environment in which the campus is thoughtfully sited distinguishes Wellesley’s physical setting in the classic New England town of Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Mission and Values
The Student Body (Fall 2022 data)
- Total enrollment: 2,353
- Average class size: 17 to 20 students; 8:1 student-faculty ratio
- Majors: More than 50 departmental and interdepartmental majors
Wellesley was founded on the radical idea that women have an equal right to the best education in the country, believing the boldest ideas, the brightest solutions, and the healthiest communities are drawn from a range of voices, perspectives, and experiences.
Wellesley is dedicated to ensuring that all students have an equal opportunity to flourish, no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, physical ability, or any other category that can be used to divide people.
To learn more about Wellesley College’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through the lens of Inclusive Excellence, click here.
Paula Johnson, President
Paula A. Johnson is a pioneer with decades of experience in academic medicine, public health, and higher education. Since joining Wellesley in 2016, Johnson has placed the college at the forefront of STEM education for women and has led the creation of the school’s new strategic plan, which places inclusive excellence at the heart of the Wellesley experience. President Johnson has held several leadership roles in her career as a physician-scientist. She most recently served as the Grayce A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School and as a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Health. In addition, she founded the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Johnson is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has received several honorary degrees and numerous awards for her contributions to science, medicine, and public health.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Johnson attended Harvard University, earning her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. She also trained in internal medicine and cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the leading Harvard teaching hospitals. Dr. Johnson has served on several national and international boards, and she currently serves on the board of directors for Rockefeller University, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and Johnson & Johnson.
To learn more about Wellesley’s senior leadership, click here.
Wellesley College offers a wide variety of benefit programs and resources to its employees. For more information, click here.
Application and Nomination
Review of applications will begin immediately 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 and questions about the status of the search may be emailed to Julie A. Leos at email@example.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about salary is available by contacting Julie A. Leos at email@example.com.
Visit the Wellesley College website at https://www.wellesley.edu.
Wellesley College is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to the diversity of the college community and the curriculum. Wellesley College and all its subcontractors shall abide by the requirements of 41 CFR 60–1.4(a), 60–300.5(a) and 60–741.5(a). These regulations prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals based on their status as protected veterans or individuals with disabilities and prohibit discrimination against all individuals based on their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. Moreover, these regulations require that Wellesley College and all of its subcontractors take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status. Candidates who believe they can contribute to that goal are encouraged to apply.
To learn more about Wellesley College’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through the lens of Inclusive Excellence click here.