A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University (KSU) is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. KSU offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 37,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties, entrepreneurial spirit and Division I athletics draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Ranked a top choice for students by U.S. News, Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only six percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status.

The Position

Role of the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Reporting to the vice president for student affairs, the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students (AVP/DOS) provides executive leadership to assist the vice president in the development and implementation of strategic planning and administrative oversight for specific functions related to co-curricular experiences, policy review and development, conduct and crisis management, budget planning and implementation, and collaboration with various internal and external constituents for the purpose of creating a vibrant, inclusive community focused on the success of every student. The AVP/DOS oversees the office of the dean of students, student conduct and academic integrity, parent and family programs, behavioral case management, policy and compliance, disability services and the CARE team. The AVP/DOS provides leadership and vision for the University’s strategic and integrated functions related to student advocacy, support, accountability, and intervention; oversees budget development and management for all units within the office of the dean of students and the student activities budget advisory committee (SABAC); and advises the management of the behavioral response team, which includes university-wide crisis/emergency management and support/advocacy for students and their families.

Additional key responsibilities of the position include:

  • Leads and directs staff and coordinates at the strategic and tactical levels with all University departments
  • Creates a collegial, team-building work environment, motivating staff, and cultivating productive, collaborative relationships with all constituent groups
  • Facilitates a work environment that encourages knowledge of, respect for and development of skills to engage with those of other cultures or backgrounds

Serve as University representative on various committees/projects, including representing KSU on the USG Regents Advisory Council for Deans of Students (RACDOS)

History of the Position

Michael Sanseviro served as dean of students for 16 years. He resigned in November, 2019 to accept the dean of students position at Georgia State University.

Opportunities and Challenges of the Role

President Whitten began her tenure in June 2018 and has brought a tremendous focus on student success to KSU. She is committed to building a “best in class” student affairs organization that will serve as a benchmark for similar institutions across the country. Eric Arneson came to KSU as vice president for student affairs early in 2020 to partner with the president on her goal of making the institution the most student-centered in the country.

In the past 20 years, KSU has evolved from a primarily commuter campus to one with a significant population of students living on campus or immediately adjacent to campus. The university continues to enhance its residential character through programs targeting on-campus students and services that connect them to the residential experience.

KSU 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.

Kennesaw State merged with Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) in 2014 creating an educational and economic powerhouse for the state of Georgia. The former SPSU campus is now the university’s Marietta campus and is home to a three of the combined schools’ colleges: the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, the College of Architecture and Construction Management and the College of Computing and Software Engineering.

In transitioning to Kennesaw State, 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 Kennesaw State The AVP/DOS will need to build strong collegial relationships with key institutional leaders, including academic colleagues on the student affairs leadership team.
  • 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 KSU.
  • 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, and flow of information were themes that repeatedly arose.
  • The AVP/DOS will need to focus on consistency of office management within and between units leading to an equitable work environment for all staff.
  • 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 for student affairs 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

The successful candidate will possess a master’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization and at least five years of progressive leadership experience in student affairs in higher education. A terminal degree, experience in senior student affairs leadership and a demonstrated commitment to serving students in a diverse and complex community are preferred. The ideal candidate will possess management experience in staff development, budgeting, research, and student success; a demonstrated ability to develop and maintain collaborative relationships with academic leadership, athletics, the university police department, and other university and community support organizations; and an ability remain competent and current through self-directed professional reading, developing professional contacts with colleagues, attending professional development courses, and attending training programs. The successful candidate will be a recognized leader with a proven history of being student-centered, collegial, accessible, inclusive, interactive and able to effectively advocate for students.

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

  • Highly collaborative—able to work effectively with senior officers, faculty, staff, students and partners in the broader community.
  • A creative, progressive, energized leader with a strong student-centered focus.
  • A commitment to ongoing efforts to enhance collaboration between student services and academic affairs that support student success and transformation.
  • An unwavering commitment to diversity, and ability to develop and maintain inclusive communities at KSU.
  • Strong problem-solving skills with an inclusive and collaborative approach to managing change.
  • A good listener who can synthesize information, get others on board and articulately explain divisional goals and initiatives to individuals outside of student services.
  • A commitment to support staff development and a strong team environment.
  • Strong understanding of contemporary student issues and values, and the ability to develop a natural rapport with students and student leaders.
  • An understanding of tools and approaches to increase student success and retention.
  • Use fact-based and data-driven decision-making and place additional focus on assessment.
  • Excellent crisis management skills and the ability to appropriately deescalate conflict situations.

Overview of the Office of the Dean of Students

The office of the dean of students oversees all student conduct, problem resolution, behavioral and crisis response, administrative emergency withdrawals, policy review and compliance, and student advocacy and support. In addition, the dean of students collaborates across all areas and constituents within the greater university community to enhance the student experience. This includes not only service to students but also collaborations with parents, alumni, community members, faculty, staff, and campus administrators.

A unique feature of the dean of students office is its collaboration with academic affairs in involving students in the democratic process. KSU is proud to be one of the founding institutions of the American Democracy Project (ADP). Now at more than 240 campuses, ADP strives to prepare students to be informed, engaged citizens who are active participants in democratic decision-making. With University College serving as its base, ADP plans and implements the annual Constitution Week festivities, Pathways to Peace lecture series, and a variety of events, activities, and advocacy opportunities.

Recognizing the importance of civic rights and responsibilities, the office of the dean of students coordinates nonpartisan efforts to simplify local voter registration and participation, emphasizing the many advantages to registering locally and getting involved in the greater Kennesaw and Cobb County community, even for students already registered at home addresses. The office also assists with managing the university’s Democracy Walls, permanent structures which serve as outlets for discussing civic issues, increasing communication across diverse audiences, encouraging thoughtful reflection, and increasing participation in the democratic process. Through the Democracy Walls students actively demonstrate their democratic values, heighten awareness, and encourage all voices to be heard. The Democracy Walls also serve as spaces that encourage idea-generation for proactive change–on campus, in the local community and across the globe.

In addition to the university’s commitment on campus and in the local community, Kennesaw State University is a national leader in civic learning and democratic engagement. KSU was selected in 2012 by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the leading organization for student affairs administrators in higher education worldwide, as a founding lead institution in an exciting new network focused on making civic learning and democratic engagement a part of every student’s college experience. KSU was among the first 25 institutions selected from across the country, and the network quickly expanded to 50 institutions during the first year. Into the second year of the program, the network expanded to 73 schools, with KSU serving as the sole institution in Georgia included in this national initiative.

Overview of the Division of Student Affairs

The division of student affairs oversees twenty-one departments and centers, including the office of the dean of students.


Kennesaw State University’s Division of Student Affairs prepares students for their future by fostering learning beyond the classroom through innovative and transformative experiences.

The Division of Student Affairs supports students and enhances their collegiate experiences by complementing academic pursuits with transformative living, learning and leading opportunities. We foster inclusive and welcoming campus communities that contribute to students’ holistic development and empower them to be engaged and ethical citizens.


The division of student affairs embraces the following values:

  • We will be honest, authentic and trustworthy at all times.
  • We will create and maintain a diverse community of learners that appreciates openness, equity, and equality.
  • We will enhance on and off campus engagement opportunities by strengthening relationships and creating shared experiences.
  • We will create a dynamic environment that nurtures students’ curiosity for self-exploration and lifelong learning.
  • We will foster awareness and appreciation of our commonalities and differences through meaningful dialogue and thoughtful action.

Learning and Development Outcomes

The division of student affairs offers out-of-class programs, services, co-curricular programming and individual interaction to ensure students are achieving the following learning and development outcomes:

  • Knowledge acquisition, integration, construction and application
  • Cognitive complexity
  • Intrapersonal development
  • Interpersonal competence
  • Humanitarianism and civic engagement
  • Practical competence

By keeping students engaged with the campus, the division of student affairs ensures students will be more successful academically, more likely to remain and graduate, and will possess a diverse portfolio of skills critical to success after college.

Leadership of the Division of Student Affairs

Dr. Eric Arneson, Vice President for Student Affairs

As the vice president of student affairs, Dr. Arneson provides leadership and direction for much of the co-curricular student experience at KSU. He serves as the chief student advocate and expert on campus and provides direct counsel to President Whitten and other key leaders in championing student success. Arneson fosters student engagement and success by oversight of divisional departments: Dean of Students, Cultural and Community Centers, Counseling and Psychological Services, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student-Athlete Support Services, Sports and Recreation, CARE Services, Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery, Military and Veteran Services, Parent and Family Programs, Student Leadership and Services, among other areas all dedicated to creating engaging, inclusive and supportive communities for students.

Arneson joined KSU in 2020 after serving as the vice chancellor for student affairs and campus climate at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He previously worked in high-level student affairs positions at Florida International University, University of Miami, University of Illinois and others. He has been very involved in professional associations in leadership positions and has facilitated workshops and trainings nationally on student affairs related topics such as leadership development, communication, creating inclusive communities and navigating career progression. He is recognized as an expert in student affairs and student engagement.

Arneson holds a doctorate in higher education from Florida International University, a Master of Arts in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Organizational Chart for the Division of Student Affairs



Institution & Location

Institutional Overview

About Kennesaw State University

With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. Chartered in 1963 by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia as a commuter school, Kennesaw State has become a destination campus, where more than 5,200 students live in eight distinctive residential communities in Kennesaw and Marietta. Students who reside on campus and those who commute have access to a full range of world-class facilities, resources and activities.

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. The university offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 38,000 students. KSU boasts the state’s second-largest business school and second-largest engineering college, and its award-winning academic programs produce the highest number of teachers and nurses in Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties, entrepreneurial spirit and Division I athletics draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Ranked a top choice for students by U.S. News & World Report, Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status.

About Kennesaw, Georgia

Kennesaw’s history begins in the 1830s when the Georgia Legislature authorized the construction of a rail line through Cobb County. Known as the Western and Atlantic Railroad, by 1846 its 20 miles of track stretched from Terminus (Atlanta) to Cartersville. The abundance of water and high ground adjacent to the railroad led to the construction of worker’s shanties near present day Kennesaw. This area became known as “Big Shanty Grade.” The high point of the railroad between the Chattahoochee and Etowah Rivers is the present day crossing in Kennesaw.

Big Shanty lay in ruins following the Civil War but by the 1870s the town began to recover. The Western and Atlantic Railroad was rebuilt and provided an important transportation artery for the town. The area continued to recover from the Civil War, and on September 21, 1887 a petition for incorporation was presented to the Legislature – the City of Kennesaw was born.

During the early 20th century Kennesaw prospered. Cotton provided a good source of revenue and the town served as an important shipping center. Unfortunately, Kennesaw was deeply affected by the depression and boll weevil virtually destroyed the cotton industry. The city did not fully recover until the 1980s.

As the economy grew, nearby construction of shopping malls and businesses put the City of Kennesaw into the Metropolitan Atlanta area. The city gained national attention in May 1982 when Kennesaw unanimously passed a law requiring “every head of household to maintain a firearm together with ammunition.” After its passage, the burglary rate in Kennesaw declined and today the city has the lowest crime rate in Cobb County.

In 2004, Kennesaw was designated a Preserve America Community. Established under President George W. Bush, Preserve America is a United States government program intended to encourage and support community efforts to preserve and enjoy the country’s cultural and natural heritage. Today, Kennesaw’s 35,000 residents enjoy the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park, the 17-acre Smith-Gilbert Gardens, the 42-acre Swift-Cantrell Park, and other city attractions. Residents know Kennesaw is a great place to live, learn, work and play. The city’s combination of small-town charm, a great location in northern Cobb County and plenty of parks, green spaces and cultural facilities offers an outstanding quality of life.

Institutional Mission and Vision

Mission Statement

At Kennesaw State, we serve as a powerful example of the impact a student-centered, research-driven university education can deliver. We help students succeed through exploration, collaboration, and rigor, uniting a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and talents. At KSU, students become the individuals who people want as colleagues and leaders.

Vision Statement

Kennesaw State will exemplify the power and promise of a student-centered, research-driven university. Authentically diverse, uniquely attainable and endlessly impactful, we will unleash the potential in every student we serve.

Strategic Plan

To read about the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan

Institutional Leadership

Pamela S. Whitten, President

Pamela S. Whitten was named Kennesaw State University’s fifth president on June 12, 2018 by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, following a nationwide search. Whitten began her tenure on July 16, 2018. As president, she has made improving the student education and experience her top priority, by enhancing the availability of in-demand courses, growing summer enrollment, initiating new faculty and advisor hiring, creating scholarships, and strengthening the research capacity of the university.

Previously, Whitten served as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia (UGA), from February 2014 to June 2018. As the chief academic officer, she was responsible for overseeing instruction, research, public service and outreach, student affairs and information technology.

Prior to serving as provost at UGA, Whitten was director for telemedicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center before she joined Michigan State University, where she worked her way through the faculty ranks and eventually served as dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.


An internationally recognized expert in the field of telemedicine – the remote delivery of health care services and information – Whitten has conducted research with funding from multiple state and federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has published two books and more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters.

Whitten holds a Doctorate in Communication Studies from the University of Kansas, a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Kentucky, and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Tulane University.

Academic Programs

Kennesaw State University’s mission is to provide educational programs that serve a diverse student body, which includes young adults who enroll as freshmen or undergraduate transfers and an equally large number of older adults who return or transfer to the university at different stages in their lives for undergraduate or graduate study. Evening and weekend programs are designed to accommodate experienced professionals seeking academic advancement. Faculty, staff and administrators are committed to providing a challenging and facilitative collegiate environment that fosters high-quality academic preparation, critical thinking, global and multicultural perspectives, effective communication and interpersonal skills, leadership development, social responsibility and lifelong learning.

Majors and Programs

The foundation for all undergraduate majors is a comprehensive and coherent general education program that promotes internationalized and connected learning in the liberal arts tradition. Kennesaw State offers more than 100 accredited disciplinary, interdisciplinary and professional undergraduate, baccalaureate degree programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, natural sciences, accounting, business fields, architecture, engineering, teacher education specialties, computing and information systems, and nursing. An expanding array of graduate degrees exists in education specialties, accounting, business fields, public administration, professional writing, conflict management and nursing. We also offer a number of applied undergraduate and graduate certificate programs, as well as numerous minors.

KSU Online

Kennesaw State University offers more than 70 fully online degree programs, certificate programs, hybrid online programs and more than 400 courses in online and mixed-model versions. Designed and taught by KSU faculty, online learning at Kennesaw State offers high quality degree options with online learning convenience and flexibility. Online courses and degrees at Kennesaw State University are fully accredited and held to the same learning standards, rigors, and expectations of quality that our on-campus courses and programs require.

Professional Education

The College of Professional Education serves students seeking professional development opportunities and skills for high-demand careers. The college offers more than 40 in-person and hybrid certificate programs and more than 350 online courses. Subjects range from culinary, HR and paralegal to technology, management, healthcare and beyond. Community programs include summer camps for rising 1st through 12th grades, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) for adults 50 and older and personal enrichment classes. CPE also partners with colleges on campus to help bring their prestigious non-credit programs to a wider audience. The college is housed in KSU Center, a comprehensive venue for conferences and employee training.

Benefits Overview

  • Medical and prescription drug plans
  • Dental plans
  • Vision plan
  • Health savings and flexible spending accounts
  • Accident, Hospital Indemnity and Critical Illness plans
  • Life insurance
  • Short- and long-term disability insurance
  • Legal plan insurance
  • Identity protection
  • Pet insurance
  • Retirement plan participation
  • Employee assistance program
  • Additional benefits

Application & 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 may be emailed to Mark Hall at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the Kennesaw State University website at

Kennesaw State University is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, protected veteran or disabled status, or genetic information.