The Opportunity

Founded in 1903, Western Michigan University (WMU) currently enrolls over 21,000 students on its five campuses in and around Kalamazoo. WMU is redefining what it means for a student to be successful in a changing world.  While historically a high GPA and academic performance would be strong evidence of preparedness for the world of work, they believe that the world is calling for a new kind of strength – the kind that comes from academic strength paired with a clear sense of purpose and the strength that comes from a focus on holistic well-being.

The Position

Role of the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students for Western Michigan University

Reporting to the vice president for student affairs, the associate vice president and dean of students (AVP/DOS) strategically oversees and provides administrative oversight for areas and initiatives focused on promoting wellbeing and student engagement, with a deep understanding and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This oversight includes a strong foundation of assessment and programmatic evaluation that leads to data-informed decision-making, with the focused intent of improving the student experience. The AVP/DOS provides leadership for the office of student conduct, office of student engagement, health promotion and education, the Sindecuse health center (which includes counseling services), and the student recreation center. In addition, the AVP/DOS serves as chair of the early intervention team, oversees the student emergency relief fund and collaborates with the office of student transitions to provide resources for families. The AVP/DOS plays a critical role in championing a collaborative approach to student wellbeing and works very closely with academic affairs colleagues in the provost’s office as well as academic advisors, student success staff, faculty and other academic administrators across the campus. The AVP/DOS oversees a $15 million budget and provides leadership for a staff of 51 full and part-time staff, 10 faculty and 174 student employees.

History of the Position

Dr. Suzie Nagel-Bennett came to Western Michigan University in 1997 and served as the director of the office of student conduct, associate dean of students and most recently as associate vice president and dean of students. She will retire from the university in the summer of 2021.

The portfolio of the position has been modified to provide a comprehensive focus on student well-being. The health center and student recreation center have been added as direct reports to the AVP/DOS and the student center has been shifted to the portfolio of the associate vice president for campus life.

Opportunities and Challenges of the Role

WMU has historically housed approximately 25% of the student population on campus. This remains true today with close to 90% of first-year students choosing to live on campus.  The university continues to enhance its residential character through programs targeting on-campus students and services that connect them to the residential experience.

WMU has a large, diverse student population. The university is deeply committed to cultural and ethnic diversity, support of international students, students with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ students, first-generation students and other underrepresented populations—and encourages a culture of equity and inclusion. The AVP/DOS staff will be expected to continue to develop programs and services that align with those broader institutional characteristics and values.

The AVP/DOS will need to champion a culture of assessment and the development of a comprehensive outcomes-based assessment program across all departments.  A coordinated data collection and evaluation program is being implemented across the student affairs division.

In transitioning to WMU, the AVP/DOS will also encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by university stakeholders in meetings with Spelman Johnson:

  • There is a strong culture of collaboration at Western Michigan. The AVP/DOS will need to build strong collegial relationships with key institutional leaders including academic colleagues.
  • There is a strong work ethic and positive energy within the student affairs leadership team due to a shared commitment to student success. The AVP/DOS will find a peer group and colleagues who are welcoming, promote open communication, emphasize an orientation toward service, and share a desire for a progressive and forward-thinking professional.
  • The next AVP/DOS will need to lead all levels of the staff in strategic thinking that acknowledges the resources of the university and the division. There is a desire for frank conversation as it relates to needs, issues, and challenges of the division, as well as a focus on current trends and best practices—and how they might be woven into the fabric of WMU. The AVP/DOS is expected to be a well-informed advocate for the resource needs of the offices in the portfolio.
  • The direct reports to the AVP/DOS have changed as departments have been added to the portfolio. As the AVP/DOS transitions into the position, it will be important to develop a strong sense of staff “team” and build working relationships that emphasize a collaborative work environment. Transparency, communication, accountability and flow of information were themes that repeatedly arose.
  • The AVP/DOS will be expected to emphasize professional development of staff to enhance broader leadership skills, promote dialog regarding trends and best practices, and encourage participation in professional associations.

Measures of Success

The associate vice president and dean of students will work with the vice president for student affairs to determine specific measures of success and related timetables. Campus stakeholders offer the following general metrics for the position:

  • The AVP/DOS has established strong working connections with all members of the vice president’s leadership team.
  • The AVP/DOS has thoroughly and thoughtfully assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the department’s operational and fiscal infrastructure and has developed a set of recommendations to move the department to its next best iteration.
  • The AVP/DOS has formulated and articulated a clear vision that focuses the work of all functions in their portfolio on student success and advocacy.
  • The staff and functions who report up to the AVP/DOS feel supported and are able to connect their work to the broader vision of the department and division.
  • The AVP/DOS has established themselves as a knowledgeable and trusted partner with stakeholders across campus.
  • The AVP/DOS is visible and engaged and has earned credibility and respect with students.

Qualifications and Characteristics

A master’s degree in higher education administration, student affairs, or a related field and at least seven years of increasingly responsible experience and success in student affairs in higher education with specific experience in student engagement, wellbeing, crisis management, early intervention teams, student conduct, and/or student development initiatives are required. A doctoral degree in higher education administration, student affairs or a related field is preferred. The ideal candidate will be a transformational leader who is able to inspire a shared vision and enables others to engage in the process to develop the strategies and goals to operationalize the vision, and a highly relational leader who serves as an advocate and champion for student success with a demonstrated passion for working with college students. In addition, candidates should possess a contemporary understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion issues impacting students, especially those from marginalized communities and how these issues impact their wellbeing and overall success; experience in recruiting, selecting, on-boarding, supervising, retaining and providing professional growth opportunities for a diverse staff; and demonstrated success in implementing change based on data-informed decision-making processes.

Additionally, the following characteristics and attributes were identified by various stakeholders at WMU when considering the position of associate vice president and dean of students and informally shared with Spelman Johnson:

  • A passion for working with, and advocating for, students while developing a broad understanding of the total student experience at WMU.
  • Demonstrated record of leadership in managing crisis and student issues with the ability to remain calm, constructive, and sensitive to multiple constituents in response to crisis situations, while guiding others during these critical times.
  • A comprehensive understanding of student well-being.
  • An innovative administrator and manager who can assess processes and services while developing creative solutions within a complex organizational frame work.
  • An exemplary history of leadership in student affairs where responsibility for student development, wellness, the creation of a positive learning environment, and the engagement of students in the life of the campus community are a central focus.
  • A collegial, inclusive, and approachable style that invites collaboration, transparency, and mutual support.
  • A consummate team player and collaborator, able to build strong working partnerships across the university and with external constituencies.
  • Leadership that upholds a culture of support for staff through deliberate coaching and professional development opportunities.
  • Ideally, possessing experience with diverse student enrollments and an appreciation for the distinctive experience of a large public university.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead change and, along with other key stakeholders, shape the strength and character of the dean of students’ office.
  • Ability to maintain a highly engaged, trustworthy, accessible relationship with students and a visible profile throughout the campus community.
  • Extensive diplomacy, high-level tact, and persuasion in the discussion of key issues that have substantial impact on the university.
  • Strong human relations skills and the ability to make decisions in the midst of complexity and utilizing diverse perspectives.
  • Demonstrated collaboration with faculty in improving educational programs and services that improve student success.
  • Effective public relations skills and ability to communicate effectively with students and family members in crisis and under duress.
  • An understanding of, and ability to, articulate the role that student conduct plays within the mission of the institution.
  • Familiarity with classroom teaching and academic policies in order to liaison with academic officials and departments.
  • The ability to build external relationships and work with the local community.
  • Experience managing large, complex budgets and comfort with technological innovation.

Overview of the Division of Student Affairs

Mission

The mission of Western Michigan University’s Division of Student Affairs is to foster involvement, growth and development in safe, healthy and inclusive learning environments. All of the programs and services within the division are intentionally designed to support the academic mission of the University, create and sustain optimal learning environments both in and outside of the classroom, and provide appropriate challenge and support for students. A vital component of WMU, the division helps to guide development of students into responsible citizens and future leaders.

Diversity and Inclusion

As indicated in the Student Affairs Strategic Plan and Western Michigan University’s Diversity and Multiculturalism Action Plan (DMAP), we are committed to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. These values are central to achievement, success and a welcoming campus. In order to build intercultural capacity, staff within Student Affairs are expected to actively demonstrate and commit to training and professional development focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Administrative Services

  • Business Operations – Addresses the needs of WMU students, faculty and staff through marketing communications, facility space leases, financial planning, budgeting, and managing central services that support operations.
  • Facilities Services – Ensures that buildings in the student affairs portfolio are maintained to an acceptable standard.
  • Finance and Infrastructure – Advises, develops and oversees financial planning, budgeting, capital and infrastructure projects, and policy matters.
  • Information Systems – Provides technical support to the Division of Student Affairs.
  • Marketing Communications – Provides a variety of support services to units within the Division of Student Affairs, including communication, marketing and Web development, among others.
  • Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students – Coordinates services designed to enhance the overall quality of student life at Western Michigan University.

Early Intervention Team

The early intervention team’s primary function is to help keep the university community safe and connect distressed students to support services. EIT seeks prevention rather than reaction to students in distress. To do so, the early intervention team:

  • Gathers and manages reported information from concerned campus constituents to develop plans for responding to and supporting students in distress
  • Assesses the level of risk posed by a student’s behavior
  • Intervenes with students and connects them to support services on and off campus
  • Provides guidance and resources to concerned faculty, staff and students

Strategic plan

The Vice President for Student Affairs sets the vision and priorities for strategic planning and assessment efforts across the Division of Student Affairs. She chairs a Leadership Team, comprised of department directors, which meets bi-monthly to share information and review progress toward the goals and objectives. Directors of each department serve on the Leadership Team and work with their staffs to ensure that division-wide objectives and strategies are implemented and they also lead departmental strategic planning initiatives. The Student Affairs Assessment Committee builds awareness of and expertise in division-wide and departmental assessment efforts, evaluates current assessment efforts in order to coordinate and improve data collection and reporting, and rewards and recognizes assessment efforts in Student Affairs.

For a detailed look at the plan, visit https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u184/2017/2020StrategicPlanReport-A.pdf

Leadership of the Division of Student Affairs

Diane Anderson, Vice President for Student Affairs

Dr. Diane Anderson came to Western Michigan University as dean of students; was promoted to associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students in 1999; and in July 2002, became vice president for student affairs. Prior to her time at WMU, Anderson worked in student affairs at Lynchburg College in Virginia, University of Maryland at College Park, Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Michigan State University.

Anderson earned a Ph.D. in college student personnel administration from University of Maryland, an M.A. in higher education administration from Michigan State University, and a B.A. in literature from Wheaton College in Illinois. She is well versed in the operations of all student affairs functional areas and has extensive experience in supervision, organizational change, conflict resolution, and student learning and development.

Org chart for Student Affairs: https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u1461/2020/SA2021-009%20SA%20Org%20Chart%20%281%29.pdf

Institution & Location

Institutional Overview

  • Top 11% of universities nationwide – S. News & World Report
  • Top 15 most affordable, eco-friendly colleges – com
  • Excellence in Diversity Award recipient since 2013 – Insight into Diversity
  • Best for Vets. Ranked top 100 eight years in a row – Military Times
  • Top 10 producer of Fulbright Scholars 2017
  • Top 5% business schools worldwide
  • Top 3 aviation program
  • Top 3 jazz program
  • Top sales & marketing program
  • Only fully accredited fine arts college in Michigan
  • Top 100 in the nation for 7 grad programs – S. News & World Report
  • Top 10 Integrated Supply Management program – Gartner
  • 1 of only 2 aerospace engineering programs in Michigan
  • 1 of 185 public institutions classified as a high research university – Carnegie Foundation
  • Largest premiere blindness and low vision studies program of its kind in the world
  • Grand Cleaning Award + Green Seal
  • Autism Center of Excellence

With locations throughout Michigan, as well as online programs, Western Michigan University is always nearby, and ready to help students meet their educational goals, whether career-related or for personal fulfillment. Extended University Programs offers academic programs in these communities:

  • Online Education
  • AMP Lab @ WMU

Michigan Locations

  • WMU-Battle Creek
  • WMU-Grand Rapids, Beltline
  • WMU-Grand Rapids, Downtown
  • WMU-MetroDetroit, Clinton Township
  • WMU-Southwest, Benton Harbor
  • WMU-Traverse City

In addition to providing degree programs for adult learners, Extended University Programs also offers professional development and non-credit opportunities for many ages, as well as courses for older adults through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

About Kalamazoo, MI

  • Top 20 College Town – WalletHub
  • Top 15 Cities for TwentySomethings – Buzzfeed
  • #3 Best Places for Creatives – Smart Assets
  • 35 miles to the shores of Lake Michigan

Thriving arts and culture: From art hops and art fairs to festivals and farmers markets, to entertainment on stage and screen, Kalamazoo is bursting with can’t-miss culture all year round.

A city with character: Nightlife, festivals, eclectic eateries, unique shopping or invigorating outdoor recreation – Kalamazoo delivers.

Community commitment: The Kalamazoo Promise guarantees college tuition to graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools—the largest program of its kind.

Industry and innovation hub: Kalamazoo offers students an abundance of internships, jobs and experiential learning opportunities. It’s home to big players like Stryker Corporation, Pfizer, Bell’s Brewery and Zoetis.

Discover Kalamazoo: https://www.discoverkalamazoo.com/

Mission

Western Michigan University is a learner-centered, research university, building intellectual inquiry and discovery into undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in a way that fosters knowledge and innovation, and transforms wisdom into action. As a public university, WMU provides leadership in teaching, research, learning, and service, and is committed to enhancing the future of our global citizenry.

Vision

Nationally and internationally recognized, the University aspires to distinguish itself as learner centered, discovery driven, and globally engaged.

Learner centered

Western Michigan University is a university where every member of our community is responsive to and responsible for the education of our students. We challenge and engage all members of our community with a university experience that creates skilled, life-long learners.

Discovery driven

Western Michigan University offers experiences that enable discovery, and promote creativity and research. We are committed to pursuing inquiry, disseminating knowledge, and fostering critical thinking that encourages life-long learning. Our scholarship creates new knowledge, forms a basis for innovative solutions, leads to economic development, and makes substantial contributions to society.

Globally engaged

Western Michigan University impacts the globe positively. We are a community of learners committed to human dignity, sustainability, social responsibility, and justice. Our campus embraces a diverse population of students, faculty and staff who develop learners and leaders who are locally oriented and globally competent, culturally aware and ready to contribute to world knowledge and discovery.

Strategic Plan

The Gold Standard 2020 is an affirmation of the University community’s commitment to the values of shared governance, transparent and timely communication, and accountable and responsible behavior within an ethical, compassionate, diverse and respectful environment.

WMU has embraced the challenge of strategic planning to ensure that it will be a premier educational environment that provides opportunity for a diverse and globally representative community of learners. Those learners will be part of a setting in which discovery and innovation are used to enhance the economic vitality of the communities served and make the world a better and more hospitable place.

The Gold Standard 2020 Embraces Five Strategic Goals

The University Strategic Plan guides the way for the next five years and allows time for meaningful institutional goals to be achieved. Developing the goals, objectives and strategies that will serve the University community both now and in the future, demands that the University undertake honest, thorough and ongoing examinations of the challenges and risks the institution faces. This strategic plan acknowledges that both risk and opportunity must be balanced, assessed and reassessed and includes the mechanisms to meet those demands. Both risks and opportunities must be prioritized as time passes, and resources must be allocated according to that prioritization.  Objectives and strategies have annual benchmarks to measure progress and allow for responsiveness to internal and external changes impacting WMU. Institutional Effectiveness Measures will be used to monitor critical University functions, as well as provide evaluation for continuous quality improvement throughout the Strategic Plan’s implementation and resource allocation processes. Upon formal adoption of the strategic plan by the University’s Board of Trustees, the document will become Western Michigan University’s roadmap into the future. Annual monitoring to ensure benchmarks are met will take place. Each unit and vice presidential area are expected to integrate the goals and objectives of the strategic plan into daily work

The five strategic goals are

  1. Ensure a distinctive and supportive learning experience that fosters success.
  2. Promote innovative learning, discovery, and service.
  3. Progress as a Carnegie-classified higher research doctoral university that advances new knowledge and value-added discovery.
  4. Promote a diverse, equitable, and inclusive University culture to ensure social sustainability and accessibility
  5. Advance economic and environmental sustainability practices and policies.

For a detailed look at the strategic plan, visit https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u656/2016/The%20Gold%20Standard%202020.pdf

Leadership

Dr. Edward Montgomery, President

Dr. Edward Montgomery became the ninth president of Western Michigan University on Aug. 1, 2017. He came to WMU from Georgetown University, where he had served as founding dean and professor of economics at the McCourt School of Public Policy.

Since beginning as president, he has launched initiatives focused on student success, revitalizing the South Campus neighborhood, the development of a new budget model impacting all areas of campus, and the implementation of the revised core curriculum, WMU Essential Studies (WES). As part of his commitment to helping students complete their studies, Montgomery implemented a targeted grant program to assist financially at-risk students.

Montgomery earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, with honors, from Pennsylvania State University and both master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Harvard University. In 2011, he was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and was selected for induction to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the academy and the field of public affairs.

During a more than 35-year academic career, Montgomery has held faculty positions at Carnegie Mellon and Michigan State universities as well as the University of Maryland, winning teaching awards some five times over the years. During his tenure at Maryland, he served for six years—2003-2009—as dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

During President William Clinton’s administration, Montgomery held a number of positions including chief economist and deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. In the latter role, the department’s second highest position, he oversaw operations of a $33 billion federal department. During President Barack Obama’s administration, Montgomery was a member of the president’s auto task force and led the inter-agency White House Council for Auto Communities and Workers.

As a researcher, Montgomery has focused on state and local economic growth, wage and pension determination, savings behavior, productivity and economic dynamics, social insurance programs, and unions. For more than two decades, he has been a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and since 2006, he has been a fellow of Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality.

He has served as an advisor to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the National Science Foundation, and on the Comptroller General’s Educators Advisory Committee for the General Accountability Office. He serves on the board of directors of the Center for Law and Social Policy, First National Bank of Michigan, and Southwest Michigan First. He also serves on the Committee on Economic Statistics for the American Economic Association.

Montgomery and his wife, Kari, a Michigan native, have three grown children—Lindsay, Elizabeth and Edward.

Academic Programs and Faculty

Western Michigan University has 39.9% of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at Western Michigan University include: Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services; Health Professions and Related Programs; Engineering; Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies; and Visual and Performing Arts. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 79%.

  • Over 140 undergraduate programs of study at WMU
  • $25.8 million in research grants 2017-18
  • 100+ study abroad programs in 40 countries
  • 5 graduate programs ranked among the top 100 in the nation
  • The Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University is one of the nation’s first honors colleges and serves as the scholarly home to over 1,600 academically talented students. The LHC can provide students in all majors with opportunities for academic enrichment.
  • Academic Learning Communities are a great way to enrich your college experience by living on a floor with others who share your interests or major.
  • Study abroad is an experience that can greatly enhance your education. Western Michigan University students participate in study abroad programs in over 40 countries.
  • Over 800 faculty members
  • Student to faculty ratio: 17:1

The Student Body

Western Michigan University has a total undergraduate enrollment of 17,051, with a gender distribution of 51% male students and 49% female students. In sports, Western Michigan University is part of the NCAA I.

  • 3,307 first-year students who started in fall 2020
  • 8% of WMU students are international
  • 90% of first-time freshman live on campus

Benefits Overview

  • Health care benefits
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement and tax-deferred savings plans
  • Tuition discount and remission
  • Wellness program
  • Flexible spending accounts

For a detailed look at benefits, visit https://wmich.edu/hr/employees/staff

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin May 26, 2021 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 Mark Hall at mah@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the Western Michigan University website at www.wmich.edu

Western Michigan University prohibits discrimination or harassment which violates the law or which constitutes inappropriate or unprofessional limitation of employment opportunity, University facility access, or participation in University activities, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, protected veteran status, height, weight, or marital status.