The Position

ROLE OF THE POSITION

Reporting to the vice president for student affairs & enrollment management, the associate vice president (AVP) for student life and dean of students is responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of the Division of Student Life (DSL), which includes the Office of the Dean of Students, New Student & Family Programs, Student Activities & Events, Residential Life, Campus Recreation, and the Office of Student Conduct. The AVP also serves as the administrative liaison to Associated Students, Inc., the shared governance auxiliary organization for students at SF State. The Division of Student Life facilitates student-centered learning through personal, community, and academic engagement with transformative experience as its goal.

The AVP serves as the Vice President’s designee, as needed. As an integral member of the Student Affairs & Enrollment Management’s Executive Team, the AVP plays a key role in the development of university policy and participates in institutional planning, evaluation, and assessment. In addition, the AVP advances the educational mission of the University and supports Graduation Initiative 2025 by providing leadership for co-curricular programs and activities that foster student development and success; enhance student engagement opportunities; improve the quality of campus life; facilitate students’ holistic integration into university life; and promote positive campus climate.

The AVP provides institutional leadership for developing, delivering, evaluating, and refining a cohesive and coordinated vision for student life on campus that supports student access, learning, and success. This position advocates for a student-responsive institutional focus, fosters a culture of excellence and quality service orientation within all areas of responsibility, conveys the needs and interests of students in university decision-making, and advocates for students voices in institutional shared governance. The AVP meets with student groups and student leaders; responds to student crises, issues, and concerns; mobilizes campus resources to respond to emergencies, crisis situations, and disruptions that involve students; maintains a visible presence at activities and programs sponsored by student organizations; mediates conflict to promote outcomes that support student learning and well-being; guides, supports, and evaluates unit managers and office staff; facilitates assessment, program review, quality improvement, and the adoption of new technologies and strategies that are data-driven; manages budgets, personnel, and other resources in a manner that is efficient and demonstrates effective stewardship; and ensures compliance with applicable laws, policies, and regulations.

The AVP is expected to work some weekends and be on-call during campus closure dates. It is imperative that the new AVP be able to competently interact with a culturally and ethnically diverse population of students, faculty, and staff.

QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS

The successful candidate will possess a master’s degree in higher education administration, student affairs, or a related field and at least ten (10) years of progressively responsible and relevant experience in student affairs administration, preferably within a comprehensive university with a highly diverse student population. In addition, the new AVP will have a demonstrated track record of accomplishment and leadership; significant experience facilitating change, allocating and managing resources, supervising staff, and managing facilities; and evidence of a strong commitment and ability to uphold the educational equity goals of the University and it’s increasingly diverse ethnic, cultural, and international character.

Preferred qualifications include: an earned doctorate in a relevant discipline; understanding of the California State University, University of California, or other large public higher education system; experience and expertise in working with students in an urban university setting; familiarity working in a collective bargaining environment; demonstrated experience with advancing campus-wide initiatives that improve student success; record of effectively managing complex budget portfolios, including revenue-generating enterprises; and a demonstrated track record of responsible management of fiscal, facility, and personnel resources in a publicly controlled institution.

The successful candidate will embody the six roles of a leader:

  • Structuring work: effectively manage and direct workflow, create clear position descriptions, clarify roles and expectation and delegate work.
  • Managing Talent: hire, coach, and support employees.
  • Inspiring Performance: empower, appreciate, and communicate constructive feedback.
  • Building Teams: build trust and collaborate.
  • Using and Sharing Information: open communication and transparency.
  • Facilitating Change: encourage others to see opportunities for different innovative approaches to problems and opportunities; facilitating the implementation and acceptance of change within the workplace.

Further, the next AVP will also embody these core competencies:

  • Bias toward collaboration and teamwork.
  • Effective oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills.
  • Customer/client focus with an emphasis on problem solving and resolution.
  • Personal effectiveness and credibility as demonstrated by interpersonal and professional confidence.
  • Diversity and inclusion.

In addition to the above-stated qualifications and characteristics, SF State stakeholders identified the following characteristics as important for the position (in no particular order):

  • a passion for working with, and advocating for, students while developing a broad understanding of the total student experience at SF State with an unwavering commitment to student success;
  • serve as a true advocate and “face” for the entire department, positively representing their work and needs effectively to leadership and the campus community;
  • experience leading in a culture of change, with the capacity to motivate staff to accept and embrace change;
  • proven record of accessing organizations, revamping policies and procedures, and using technological advances to enhance efficiencies;
  • credible, engaging, supportive, and approachable supervisor with knowledge of the responsibilities of each staff member’s position, respect for their work and contributions, and a proficiency at advocating for the programs and other needs of staff and students;
  • possess a demonstrated record of cultural competence and high degree of emotional intelligence;
  • maintain an unwavering passion for serving students—including a deep interest in supporting the needs of underrepresented, marginalized, and first-generation students;
  • demonstrated collaborations with faculty and other campus departments in improving programs and services that enhance student success;
  • proven ability to deal with conflict, effectively work with staff members at various levels of development and knowledge, and demonstrate authenticity, passion, and care in all endeavors;
  • an exemplary leader in student affairs where responsibility for a broad spectrum of student development, wellness, the creation of a positive learning environments, and the engagement of students in the life of the campus community are a primary focus;
  • demonstrated leadership ability with excellent management skills and the ability to build a solid framework to effectively develop and manage a complex organization;
  • embrace innovation and creativity, and willing to try new services and/or approaches to most effectively meet the needs of the students;
  • strong team-building approach that continues to foster a positive relationship among the entire staff; capacity to equally hold staff accountable and celebrate accomplishments and positive contributions;
  • possess a deep understanding of principles of diversity and social justice, with the ability to enhance equity and inclusive communities with students and staff of various social, cultural, and educational backgrounds;
  • strong future thinker and collaborator committed to advancing student success to the entire campus community;
  • compassionate, accessible, transparent, ethical leader with excellent communication skills to clearly articulate vision, direction, and purpose and earn the respect and confidence of the faculty, staff, and students;
  • experience managing large, complex budgets and comfort with technological innovation;
  • demonstrate an understanding of metropolitan/urban living and the challenges facing individuals struggling with homelessness and food insecurities;
  • strong ability to build external relationships and work with the local community.

HISTORY OF THE POSITION

The Division of Student Life at SF State is very young; only existing for roughly 12 years. The Division was created with the purpose of facilitating student-centered learning through personal, community, and academic engagement, culminating in a transformative experience for all students.

This AVP position has experienced a great deal of instability over the past few years. The current contracted interim continues to do exceptional work with the staff and students while a national search is conducted.

SF State is searching for a dynamic leader to help the Division of Student Life realize all their potential. This truly is an outstanding team with a genuine passion for SF State and the students. They need an AVP to actively engage, support, empower and advocate for them and their services, programs, and initiatives.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE

The new AVP will encounter the opportunities and challenges listed below.

SF State has a large commuter student population including students living campus adjacent and others that are more removed from campus. While the institution continues to enhance its residential programs through initiatives targeting on-campus students and services that connect them to the residential experience, the needs of commuter students must also be equally addressed, as well as creating a means to bond the entire student community.

SF State 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 and their staff will be expected to continue to develop programs and services that align with those broader institutional characteristics and values.

The Division of Student Life is young and has struggled with consistent leadership. The staff is truly incredible with a steadfast dedication to their work and the students. There is a strong work ethic and positive energy within Student Life and the entire Student Affairs & Enrollment Management cabinet area due to a shared commitment to student success. The staff need an experienced leader to infuse new energy, innovative ideas, and build on the momentum that the division’s leadership team (the area Directors) has built over the last few years. In addition, the AVP 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.

In transitioning to SF State, the AVP will also encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by university stakeholders in meetings with Spelman Johnson.

  • The AVP will need to build strong collegial relationships with key institutional leaders including academic colleagues and the Associated Students Inc.
  • The AVP is expected to be a well-informed advocate for the resource needs of the offices in the portfolio. It would also be beneficial if the new AVP has grant or fundraising experience to help the division move forward with their great ideas. A clear expectation exists to do more with less.
  • This AVP’s portfolio includes many offices which serve on the front line during a crisis. The AVP must have a 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 through these critical times with a strong sense of empathy and care.
  • SF State needs to build a strong community identity which unites and inspires the entire community. The AVP will work with the division to create this unique SF State identity through the offerings of Student Life and other partnerships.
  • The AVP will embrace this mission of SF State and ensure that all programs, services, initiatives, and endeavors of the division align with and support this mission and the students of SF State.
  • The new AVP must have an exceptional student development background coupled with strong organizational management, supervisory skills, and the ability to strategically think and work on a broader scale well beyond the day-to-day functions. The AVP is expected to share in leadership decisions and initiatives focused on the future of not just the division but also the institution.
  • The AVP will have knowledge of and experience implementing best practices, technology, and strong policies, systems, and procedures to both increase efficiencies and improve staff and student satisfaction.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

At an appropriate interval after joining SF State, the following items will define initial success for the AVP.

  • The AVP has embraced the opportunity for innovative campus partnerships resulting in truly connected programming.
  • The AVP authentically and regularly communicates with students to better understand their needs and provides strategic, development support to facilitate their success.
  • The AVP is a caring person willing to authentically communicate to better understand the students’ needs.
  • The AVP has established strong working connections with all members of the Student Affairs & Enrollment Management’s Executive Team.
  • The AVP has thoroughly and thoughtfully assessed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the Division’s operational and fiscal infrastructure and has developed a set of recommendations to move the department to its next best iteration that serves the campus and is aligned with promising, progressive practices within the field.
  • The AVP has formulated and articulated a clear vision that focuses the work of all functions in their portfolio on student success, advocacy, and retention.
  • The AVP has built a strong team that feels supported, valued, empowered, and unified by a common direction, vision, and set of clear priorities; the staff feel as if they have a strong leader to provide stability and advocate for their needs.
  • The AVP with the rest of Student Life are working to establish a vibrant campus life with students by being involved, accessible, visible, and engaged in all aspects of campus life. The Division of Student Life has a clear and gregarious presence on campus.
  • The AVP is considered a knowledgeable and trusted partner with stakeholders across campus and in the broader community.
  • The AVP, along with staff, will be working on a multi-year strategic plan which supports both the division’s new strategic plan, as well as the institution’s.
  • The campus community knows all about Student Life, their programs, services, and how this division impacts student success.

Institution & Location

OVERVIEW OF THE DIVISION OF STUDENT LIFE & DEAN OF STUDENTS

Units reporting directly to the associate vice president of student life and dean of students include:

  • Office of the Dean of Students
  • New Student & Family Programs
  • Student Activities and Events
  • Residential Life
  • Campus Recreation
  • Office of Student Conduct
  • Associated Students – The AVP serves as an administrative liaison.

The Division of Student Life team at SF State facilitates student-centered learning through personal, professional, community, and academic engagement, culminating in a transformational experience.
SFSU works collaboratively with students, families, faculty, staff, administrators, and others to enhance the overall SF State student experience. As partners in the educational process they:

  • create opportunities for students to integrate curricular and co-curricular learning;
  • promote and support student inclusion in the University decision making process;
  • inform and educate students of their rights and responsibilities as members of the University, San Francisco, and global communities;
  • promote and educate students about social justice and equity;
  • network and collaborate with faculty to enhance the student learning experience;
  • provide educational programs, events, and job opportunities that focus on development of leadership competencies, career and life skills, wellness, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and crisis management.

Shared Values: The work in the Division of Student Life is guided and informed by a commitment to and support of SF State’s five core values:

  • Courage: Cultivate courageous conversations and daring leadership.
  • Life of the Mind: Stimulate integration of curricular and co-curricular learning.
  • Equity: Advocate for social justice, equity, and eliminating barriers.
  • Community: Create inclusive and caring communities of challenge and support.
  • Resilience: Celebrate individual and community tenacity and sustainability.

Leadership of the Division

Units reporting directly to the associate vice president of student life and dean of students include:

  • Office of the Dean of Students
  • New Student & Family Programs
  • Student Activities and Events
  • Residential Life
  • Campus Recreation
  • Office of Student Conduct
  • Associated Students – The AVP serves as an administrative liaison.

Vision: A campus community where every student belongs and the student experience matters.

Mission: The Division of Student Life believes that every SF State student should belong and matter, has the capacity to live a purposeful life, and can positively impact the world.

To that end, the Division of Student Life team at SF State facilitates student-centered learning through personal, professional, community, and academic engagement, culminating in a transformational experience.

We work collaboratively with students, families, faculty, staff, administrators, and others to enhance the overall SF State student experience. As partners in the educational process we:

  • create opportunities for students to integrate curricular and co-curricular learning;
  • promote and support student inclusion in the University decision making process;
  • inform and educate students of their rights and responsibilities as members of the University, San Francisco, and global communities;
  • promote and educate students about social justice and equity;
  • network and collaborate with faculty to enhance the student learning experience;
  • provide educational programs, events, and job opportunities that focus on development of leadership competencies, career and life skills, wellness, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and crisis management.

Shared Values: Our work in the Division of Student Life is guided and informed by our commitment and support of SF State’s five core values:

  • Courage: We cultivate courageous conversations and daring leadership.
  • Life of the Mind: We stimulate integration of curricular and co-curricular learning.
  • Equity: We advocate for social justice, equity, and eliminating barriers.
  • Community: We create inclusive and caring communities of challenge and support.
  • Resilience: We celebrate individual and community tenacity and sustainability.

Leadership of the Division

Pam Su, Interim Associate Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students

Major Areas of Oversight:

  • Strategic Divisional Vision & Direction
  • Supervision of Divisional Leadership & Office Teams
  • Divisional Budgeting & Staffing Management
  • Liaison to Associated Students & Project Rebound
  • Student Crisis & Campus Support
  • Student Success & Graduation Initiative
  • Time, Place Manner Co-Chair

The Division of Student Life 

INSTITUTIONAL OVERVIEW

A member of the 23-campus California State University system, San Francisco State University (SF State) is a major public urban university, situated in one of the world’s great cities. Building on a century-long history of commitment to quality teaching and broad access to undergraduate and graduate education, the University offers comprehensive, rigorous, and integrated academic programs that require students to engage in open-minded inquiry and reflection. SF State encourages its students, faculty, and staff to engage fully with the community and develop and share knowledge. The University has an ambitious plan to become a residential campus by 2035 by increasing its housing capacity.

Inspired by the diversity of its community that includes many first-generation college students and the courage of an academic community that strives to break down traditional boundaries, SF State equips its students to meet the challenges of the 21st century. With the unwavering commitment to social justice that is central to the work of the University, SF State prepares its students to become productive, ethical, active citizens with a global perspective.

With about 30,000 students, SF State is nationally recognized for its commitment to the community and toward diversity of ideas. SF State holds the distinction as being one of only 62 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement, Outreach and Partnership classification, recognizing SF State’s dedication to engagement.

Mission and goals

Vision

As a complex organization, SFSU is made up of many people and experiences. In order to encompass that complexity, they have developed visions for the future of SF State from four perspectives: the Academic Experience, the Student Experience, the Employee Experience, and the University and its Environment. These four visions, developed by a cross-section of the university community, represent our values and aspirations. Several common themes emerge. Though echoed in different ways in the various sections, they are key unifying elements in a comprehensive vision of the University’s future.

  • Academic excellence.
    The University best serves those who choose to study here by creating demanding and rigorous learning experiences that encourage students to grow. All students will have experiences that challenge them to integrate the knowledge they are acquiring and to apply it to solve problems in multiple real-world contexts in collaboration with colleagues.
  • Improved access and flexibility for diverse communities.
    The wide range of people coming to San Francisco State University in differing capacities necessitates a strong commitment to improved access and flexibility. This commitment will shape the way the University serves its students and delivers its academic programs; the access to resources it provides its employees; and the efforts it makes to meet the needs of the community by providing educational and other services to a wide audience.
  • Engaged and expanded intellectual community.
    The University encourages its members to engage fully with the community, to share knowledge, to move beyond traditional boundaries, and to develop new knowledge to meet new opportunities and serve the needs of multiple internal and external constituencies.
  • Institutional culture that supports change and innovation.
    To meet the challenges of a changing environment, SF State must continue to innovate. while endeavoring to create a university that welcomes innovation, whether it is in delivery of learning opportunities, streamlining of services, building of institutional spirit, or engaging with the community. SFSU will align its processes, procedures, incentives, and evaluation criteria with its central vision and mission.

THE STUDENT BODY

Enrollment — Fall 2021 data

Undergraduate 23,424
Post Baccalaureate/Graduate 3,475
TOTAL 26,899

By Gender
Male: 44.5%
Female: 55.5%

By Ethnicity (Undergraduate)
American Indian or Alaskan Native: 0.2%
Asian: 24.4%
Black or African American: 5.6%
Hispanic/Latino: 36.1%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.7%
White: 15.2%
Two or more races: 5.3%
Race/ethnicity unknown: 5.9%
Non-resident: 6.6

STRATEGIC PLAN

The new strategic plan is built around five values that reflect SF State’s shared heritage and aspirations – Courage, the Life of the Mind, Equity, Community, and Resilience. In pursuit of these values, the plan identifies a number of initiatives that the campus will undertake over the next several years as everyone works together to build the future of SF State.

To review the entire strategic plan, please visit: http://planning.sfsu.edu/

INSTITUTIONAL LEADERSHIP

Lynn Mahoney, PhD – President

Lynn Mahoney serves as the 14th president of San Francisco State University, one of the nation’s premier urban comprehensive universities. She leads more than 3,900 faculty and staff as they serve a student population of nearly 30,000. The first woman appointed to serve as the University’s president in a permanent capacity, Mahoney succeeded Leslie E. Wong, who retired in July 2019.

President Mahoney serves on the board of directors for both the Bay Area Council and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of the Bay Area Higher Education Council, the San Francisco Workforce Investment Board, and the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 Advisory Committee. Mahoney was also appointed to serve on San Francisco’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force.

President Mahoney has been recognized for her work in support of student success and academic excellence by the CSU Long Beach Office of Students with Disabilities, the Purchase College Student Government Association, and the United University Professions. In 2021, the California State Student Association (CSSA), the single recognized voice for more than 425,000 students in the CSU system, named her the Robert C. Maxson President of the Year.

Benefits Overview

For an in-depth look at SF State benefits, visit https://hr.sfsu.edu/benefits-pay.

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 and questions about the status of the search may be emailed to Heather J. Larabee at hjl@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.Visit the San Francisco State University website at https://www.sfsu.edu/.

San Francisco State University values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity for all persons regardless of age, color, disability, ethnicity, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other status protected by law.