Bennington College seeks an experienced, student-centered, and equity-minded student affairs leader and campus partner to serve as its next dean of student life. The expected start date is September/October 2021.

Bennington is an innovative and distinguished residential liberal arts college that has, since its founding in 1932, been a laboratory for new ideas and an intellectual home to countless artists, activists, and thinkers who have shaped contemporary culture. The college was the first to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education, and it is the only college to require that its students spend a term—every year—at work in the world. Bennington’s nearly 800 students (697 undergraduate and 102 graduate) work intensively with faculty and staff to forge individualized and hands-on educational paths around their driving questions and interests, and also devote themselves to a number of community outreach efforts, often tied to the endeavors they are pursuing in their coursework.

Bennington serves a diverse student population inclusive of members of ethnically/racially minoritized, international, LGBTQIA+, and disability communities as well as diverse gender identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, and political beliefs. 19 percent of undergraduate students identify as a person of color and 18 percent are international students representing 59 countries. Staff and faculty also reflect diverse and intersecting backgrounds and identities. All employees are expected to be respectful and responsive to these differences in the service of building community that promotes student and employee success. Each individual (faculty, staff and students) will be accountable for upholding these values. The College’s approach to pluralism and inclusivity—both as fields of inquiry and practice—is to prioritize flexible thought, and to invite the examination of access, value, power, and privilege through its institutional policies and areas of study.

Situated on 440 breathtaking acres in Bennington, Vermont, the campus is a convergence of creative minds, distinctive buildings, and expansive spaces. Bennington has been named one of ten college campuses with the best architecture by Architectural Digest. From campus, it is a short drive to MASS MoCA, Clark Art Institute, and other cultural offerings of the northern Berkshires in Massachusetts; Albany, New York; and many of Vermont’s top recreational centers. New York City, Boston, and Burlington, Vermont are all within three and a half hours by car.

The Position
Reporting to President Laura Walker and serving as a member of her executive leadership team, the dean of student life (dean) will serve as a campus leader and partner supporting the president’s steadfast commitment to the development of a distinctive set of strategic experiences beyond the classroom, creating the conditions for personal, social, and intellectual transformation. The dean will actively engage in dialogue with students in an effort to identify, understand, and respond to their evolving needs, and will work closely with Bennington’s executive leadership, student life team, and campus partners to integrate the academic, residential, and co-curricular spheres of students’ lives, connecting out-of-classroom experiences to the mission of the college.

The dean will be expected to have a thorough understanding of best practices in the field, and the flexibility and tenacity to develop a clear and inspiring mission and identity for the student life office at one of the preeminent liberal arts colleges in the nation. This senior leader will work particularly closely with the president; provost; vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and college diversity officer; and dean of the college to envision and build a progressive student life organization that centers the student experience and supports Bennington’s vision of becoming a diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist community. This role requires a leader who approaches their work through systems-level thinking, strategic collaboration, and steadfast advocacy for the student experience.

The dean will oversee an operating budget of $2.32 million and lead a team of 27 dedicated and talented student life professionals, including five direct reports, who support Bennington students through the following programs and services: campus safety; clubs, organizations, and recreation; community standards; health services; psychological services; residential life; student engagement; and student health promotion.

Qualifications
This position is an outstanding opportunity for a student affairs professional who is interested in building and nurturing an inclusive, progressive, and student-centered student life organization. Minimum requirements include a master’s degree and at least ten years of progressively responsible student affairs leadership experience in higher education. Experience at a residential institution of higher education, as well as a record of serving and contributing as part of a divisional or institutional senior leadership team is strongly preferred.

Bennington is seeking a compassionate, energetic, creative, and highly relational dean of student life who has a keen grasp of contemporary student issues and finds joy in connecting with students and helping them flourish on campus. The position requires a talented and experienced leader of people and programs who thinks strategically, manages resources wisely, acts with the highest degree of integrity, and inspires the confidence and trust of others. The ideal candidate will possess a record of accomplishment in promoting student well-being and engagement, residential community building, and anti-oppressive practices; a deep understanding of the integral relationship between co-curricular and academic life; an ability to forge partnerships with a wide range of campus and community stakeholders; highly refined skills and acumen to respond effectively to challenging student and community issues; and the ability to influence strategic decision making and investments.

The search committee particularly invites applications from individuals who have a passion for working with creative students, a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and an affinity for the distinctive mission and character of Bennington College. Applicants from diverse realms of interest, backgrounds, experience, and accomplishment are encouraged to apply.

Application and Nomination
Review of applications will begin Wednesday, June 30, 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 forwarded to Michel Frendian at mrf@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the Bennington College web site at www.bennington.edu and the Bennington Student Life web site at https://www.bennington.edu/office-of-student-life.

Bennington College is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination as defined under applicable state and federal laws, including but not limited to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. The College does not discriminate in its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV test, or any other legally protected status.